Chicago-based worldwide e-commerce marketplace Groupon announced on 8 August that it had acquired Presence AI, an AI-powered text and voice communications tool that is working on a communications platform to automate business-to-customer (B2C) calls and messaging. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
According to a survey conducted by Bizrate Insights, consumers – especially millennials – vastly prefer messaging and chat-based communications over phone calls. Presence AI says it aims to enable merchants to respond to this trend by “offering a 24/7 business assistant that integrates with a merchant’s existing scheduling software”.
It will “accept and manage bookings, provide instant answers to customer questions, remind people when it’s time to re-book and much more”. The company already has some integrations with “popular booking software providers”.
Amazon’s Alexa Fund is one of the investors in Presence AI, which has so far raised US$20,000 in seed funding. The company was founded in 2015 in San Francisco and operates in the health, beauty and wellness space, which is one of Groupon’s largest categories. In 2018, it participated in the Alexa Accelerator, which “supports early-stage start-ups using voice to deliver transformative customer and business experiences”
As Groupon starts trying to move towards “universal bookability” for certain services, it hopes Presence AI’s technology will provide merchants with the capabilities to support this “booking vision”.
“We’re pleased to welcome the Presence AI team and their booking technology to Groupon,” Groupon Chief Product Officer Sarah Butterfass said in a statement. “Booking is a key part of our voucher-less initiative aimed at improving the redemption experience, providing always-on availability . . . opening up our marketplace to a broader range of merchants.”
“Presence AI’s technology is very complementary to what we’ve been building into our existing booking experience and will accelerate our roadmap with its text- and chat-based interface,” she added.
“We’re very excited to join Groupon and continue transforming client conversations through the use of artificial intelligence,” Presence AI co-founder and CEO Michel Meyer said. “With more than 3 million text messages generated last year, Presence AI is saving merchants time and generating additional revenues. We can’t wait to bring our technology to more businesses.”