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How Shook uses AI to recommend the right beauty products to users

Auckland-based beauty tech startup Shook has received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback with over 2000 users visiting the site since it launched last March.

Shook co-founder and CEO Olivia Panzic said they were very pleased with the overwhelmingly positive feedback they have received from the users of the web-based app which uses artificial intelligence to help people find personalised cosmetics recommendations online.

“Users have been asking why such a platform hasn’t existed sooner and 100 per cent of those surveyed have said they would feel more comfortable buying cosmetics after using Shook,” Panzic said.

“People have also been sharing Shook widely with their friends and are telling us they’re excited to come back as new products are released.”

Shook looks at factors such as skin type and concerns to match users to products based on real reviews. Using conversational AI also means that no matter the user’s knowledge of makeup or lack thereof, the platform is trained to understand and help guide them to the right products.

Panzic said she came up with the idea for Shook after realising how difficult it was to research cosmetics online without the personalisation that comes from chatting to an in-store beauty expert.

“So many friends would try to find their perfect foundation online and then end up coming to me because the product they bought wasn’t working for them,” she said.

“They would hear about the ‘best foundation on the market’ but the problem is it’s designed for someone with oily skin, while they have dry skin.”

With co-founder and conversational AI designer Jonnie Cain, Shook was created using IBM’s Watson technology to replicate the in-store sales assistant experience.

The resulting platform not only helps people figure out their skin type and undertones, it also considers factors like the situation in which they will be wearing the product, so it can recommend products with SPF protection, for instance.

“We’re really proud that Shook can also help people discover products that are cruelty free and have inclusive shade ranges,” Panzic said. “That way our users can be reassured and know that the products recommended to them will fit all of their criteria.”

Panzic said although they haven’t worked with any individual beauty brands at the moment, as Shook is an independent research tool, they are exploring opportunities with retailers because they believe the platform can help them deliver a superior customer experience.

Panzic said most of the visitors to their site were from New Zealand and Australia but she made it clear that the app is available to all users globally.

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