Kingfisher has launched the first AI-powered assistant in the home improvement sector, harnessing the capability of generative AI to support customers with their DIY projects.
Launching initially at Castorama France, the virtual assistant answers customers’ DIY queries and provides step-by-step advice on a range of home improvement projects, as well as tailored product recommendations.
Customers can ask the assistant questions in natural language while shopping online – for example “how do I install a worktop in my kitchen” or “which saw should I choose to cut my worktop?”. The assistant will answer in a friendly and conversational way with relevant advice, drawing on a wealth of DIY and product knowledge.
As well as conversing with customers via text chat, the assistant will soon be able analyse photos to perform visual searches and answer visual queries. By uploading a photo, a customer will able to use the assistant to identify a particular part – for example “I want to replace this broken part of my sink but I don’t know what it’s called” or “I’d like to find another cushion like this one”.
The assistant will initially provide advice in relation to power tools, before being extended to cover Castorama’s full range of products.
The assistant is capable of operating in multiple languages, and if it proves successful, it will ultimately be rolled out to other banners across the Kingfisher Group.
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Tom Betts, Group Data Director at Kingfisher, said:
“Our new virtual assistant is designed to simplify the world of home improvement, making DIY projects easy and accessible for everyone. Whether you’re a DIY novice looking for advice getting started with a project, or an experienced DIYer in need of a technical answer quickly, our assistant will be on hand to support 24/7. We’re hugely excited by the potential of this technology and look forward to seeing the response from customers.”
To power the assistant and support other future applications of AI, Kingfisher’s data team has developed a proprietary AI orchestration framework, named Athena. This will manage prompting and interaction with a range of large language models, as well as other AI tools developed in-house. It incorporates a range of controls to ensure security and protect against sensitive or inappropriate content, helping Kingfisher to deliver the best possible AI experiences for customers.
The DIY assistant project builds on a wide range of initiatives developed by Kingfisher’s expert teams to harness the power of AI and data. Other examples include:
AI-powered product recommendation and personalisation engines at B&Q and Screwfix, which are already generating up to 10% of e-commerce sales.
AI-driven tools to optimise markdowns and clearance, with early pilots at B&Q delivering very encouraging gross margin improvement on clearance products.
An end-to-end supply chain visibility tool to support lower inventory levels and faster replenishment cycles. Live in France, Iberia and Romania, the tool is already showing early success in reducing inventory levels without impacting product availability.