10 October 2014, 13:30 PM
  • Court Farm Butchery & Country Larder in Upper Halling, Kent is installing a chatbot on their website to assist customers 24 hours a day
Farm Shop to Install Artificially Intelligent Bot

The robot, to be named Billy the Butcher, will be based on the farm shop’s real-life butcher, Will Reid.

The technology is being coded by the Devon-based software developers velmai, of which Tania Peitzker-Lingham is a co-owner and company director. The business is one of the first in the UK to explore this technology, and is raising money to do so via crowdfunding website CrowdCube.

Tania Peitzker-Lingham, the wife of farmer Andrew Lingham who owns the Butchery & Country Larder, said, “velmai’s chatbot is quite similar to Apple’s Siri function on iPhones, but as users know that is limited to search functions and our software shows more of an artificial emotional intelligence. We were looking for ideas with regards to rolling it out, and decided to do so via the farm shop.

“The concept developed from the idea of having an online shop. Compared to Australia, Germany and Switzerland, all countries in which I’ve lived, independent food retailers in the UK have struggled with selling online. Once we’d launched the e-shop, despite having over 1200 loyal customers who had previously said they’d be interested in buying from a website, that hasn’t happened.

We thought about what could be putting people off, and realised that it was the lack of the experience and service that a real-life employee can offer. Our chatbot isn’t replacing an employee who could have been helping a customer, it can simultaneously help all of our 1200 customers online. This will not only improve productivity and hugely increase sales, but provide consistent customer liaisons all day every day.”


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