The Mars Agency has partnered with speciality beverage retailer BevMo! to launch the next phase of testing for its voice-activated, digital SmartAisle shopper platform for retailers.

SmartAisle platform is one of the first voice-powered, in-store shopping assistants that provides information and educational tools at the point of purchase.

This patent-pending tool combines a voice-activated interface, an artificial intelligence (AI) engine and navigational LED shelf lights.

After asking shoppers about their whiskey preferences such as type, taste profile and price, SmartAisle identifies three recommended bottles and reads out the names and descriptions for each. The integrated shelf lights will highlight the locations of the each recommended bottle.

Shoppers can also inquire about specific bottles or brands and receive a recommendation of products with similar taste profiles.

The SmartAisle platform will be tested at BevMo! stores in California, including Oakland, San Jose, Santa Clara, Mira Mesa and Carmel Mountain until the end of March 2019.

“We believe Smart Aisle has the potential to transform the way people shop for products across a wide range of categories.”

The system will be housed in a stand-alone merchandising display in the lobby of each BevMo! store and will feature 50 whiskey bottles, an Amazon Echo smart speaker and custom signage.

SmartAisle also provides additional product information, whiskey facts and jokes to make the experience different each time.

In February 2018, Mars tested a similar SmartAisle whiskey selector in partnership with an independent retailer in Manhattan, New York.

This two-month pilot saw a 20% year-on-year sales lift for the featured bottles and positive feedback from shoppers.

BevMo! chief marketing and information officer Tamara Pattison said: “We’re excited to partner with the Mars Agency and test the Smart Aisle platform in our stores.

“This simply enhances our commitment to using technology to offer better customer experiences and this kind of forward-thinking, in-store solution is totally in line with our strategy.”

Mars Agency global CEO Ken Barnett said: “We believe Smart Aisle has the potential to transform the way people shop for products across a wide range of categories. We’re in discussions with several brands and retailers to turn that vision into reality.”