Blog: Statup of the Week: Levia
Levia is a conversational commerce company that uses artificial intelliegence to power a selling assistant. By helping clients personalize shopping for customers, the technology aims to increase engagement and satisfaction across a wide range of platforms at a time when consumers can choose from a growing number of ecommerce stores.
“These kind of technologies create better user experiences,” says Levai cofounder and CEO Lara Rouyres. “Retailers want to build trust and loyalty. And these assistants of help because they can provide immediate responses any time of day.”
The company got started 4 years ago when the founders were developing retail technology that leveraged computer vision. The idea was to let consumers take a picture of something they saw in a magazine and help them find a way to buy it online. The result was a consumer app called Selectionnist.
But the focus shift in 2016 when Facebook created an API for Facebook Messenger. Rouyres says the team began to take its technology and place it in Messenger which eliminated the need for potential users to download an application. At that point, the company realized a bigger opportunity might would be to create a B2B service for other retailers. Even then, as the company evolved, it became apparent that consumers were looking for something more than just search.
“We began to build something that does visual search,” Rouyres says. “But very quickly what we noticed is that when you open a conversational channel, people will talk to you. Bascially, they start asking the robot the same questions the would ask a sales guy in a shop.”
At that point, the goal became to create a shopping assistant that could respond in a human-like way to requests like: “I want a wedding dress in a certain size.”
Today, Levia’s service works in Facebook Messenger but also on traditional websites. The company has used large data sets to train its algorithm around a range of specific shopping categories such as fashion, food, home decoration and cosmetics. As consumers type, Levia’s shopping assistant can autocomplete questions as soon as it understands the reuqest and then serve up an answer in a few seconds.
As the assistant becomes faster and more interactive, the company is finding that conversation rates soar. While ecommerce is growing rapidly, the online conversion rates are still only a small fraction of what they are for physical retailers, Rouyres says.
“Our mission is to help customers find relevant products effectively,” she says. Such an experience leads to repeat purchases online and increased trust when a customer knows they can get answers and immediate responses any time fo the day.
For the moment, Levia is primarily working with such French retailing giants as Carrefour, Galeries Lafayette, and Cdiscount. But it has also landed U.S.-based digital radio leader Pandora. Rouyres says the platform now works in 30 languages.
The team is still small, just 12 employees. It raised €2 million in venture capital back in 2016. Rouyres says the plan is raise another round later this year as the company prepares to expand its sales efforts beyond France.