Remark puts thousands of human product experts into AI form

Shopping is fun, but deciding on one set of skis from thousands of options is not. That's true Remark comes in.

The two-year-old startup helps shoppers buy with more confidence, says Theo Satloff, co-founder and CEO of Remark.

It does this by connecting shoppers to high-quality product experts through an asynchronous live chat with one of 50,000 human experts – artists, musicians, stylists, golfers, ski instructors – who can discuss items just as a retail associate would.

And there's a twist: Remark also trains artificial intelligence models on these experts to create personas that can answer questions with the same style as their human counterparts. This way, the “expert” is always available, even if he or she cannot be physically present. Remark also gives the human experts a cut of every sale made through the platform.

By having both a human and AI persona, the 45 brands already using Remark can benefit from the experts, as well as blog posts and landing pages optimized for individual shoppers. The company receives a small commission on sales attributed to Remark. There are no platform fees and the company shares the profits.

“Our goal is to be the best possible guide for them in every e-commerce experience,” said Satloff.

Satloff and co-founders Ian Patterson and Carl-Philip Majgaard initially thought expensive purchases like those skis would account for most of the use cases. However, they realized that shopping, regardless of price, is an emotional affair, so customers used Remark for virtually every purchase, like socks.

For Darn Tough Socks, Remark's experts spoke to tens of thousands of customers and had hundreds of thousands of interactions with them, all to purchase socks.

“For us, that was an eye-opening moment because it told us that even something that is quite cheap is still a purchase that involves a lot of considerations and emotions,” Satloff said.

Example of Remark's asynchronous chat technology working with Embr's wearables site. (Image credit: note)

Remark currently works with clients in the outdoor, baby products, beauty and skin care industries. Customers see a 9% increase in sales and a 30% conversion rate, which Satloff called “amazing.”

He compares it to a physical experience: When you walk into a store, the retailer has about a 30% chance of converting that person into a buyer.

“Brands are looking at their websites as their new flagship experience, so they need the same kind of handheld exceptional guide that they use in brick-and-mortar retail on their own sites,” he said.

Remark's expert-assisted shopping goes a step beyond the AI-based algorithmic guides based on past purchases developed by companies like Amazon, Intercom with AI-first customer service, and startups like Shoptrue for fashion and Halla for groceries.

Satloff said some of these are more focused on post-sale customer service, while Remark focuses on support and guidance on pre-sale decision making. The company also has the advantage of community ownership, meaning Remark can generate new data forever and on the fly as needed.

“We are at the forefront of building character-based models, which means we are literally breaking new ground in new techniques and new approaches to role-playing and using multiple models at once,” said Satloff.

To further develop the product and technology, Remark recently raised $10.3 million in seed funding from an investor group including Spero Ventures, Stripe, Shine Capital, Neo, Sugar Capital, Visible Ventures and angel investors such as Dave Habiger, CEO of JD Power and chairman of Reddit; Jeff Barnett, former CEO of Demandware/CommerceCloud); and Varsha Rao, former CEO of Nurx.

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