Twilio Segment, Flex, and AI: Enhancing the retail customer journey

We explore the integration of Twilio Segment and Flex with artificial intelligence to enhance the buyer's journey in the retail industry.

By Lisa Zavetz, Jonathan Greenberg, Chris Feehan

“How are you using ChatGPT?”

It’s a question that comes up often in my friend group. Once reserved for the Watson’s of the world, artificial intelligence is now figuratively right at our fingertips. One of my friends uses it to highlight potential customer objections in his sales pitches. Another is using the bot to write cover letters based on job descriptions. I personally used ChatGPT recently to select a happy hour location for my team.

The possibilities are endless. And it’s not just individual users who are benefiting. AI can be used by businesses, across industries, to improve customer interactions. In fact, at Twilio Segment, we knew we had to integrate AI into our product to give customers a seamless experience.

This blog dives into the art of the possible as we explore how Twilio Segment and Flex, integrated with artificial intelligence, can improve the buyer’s journey in the retail space.

Meet Alice, shoe enthusiast

The value of AI integrated with Segment and Flex is how they work together to create a seamless experience for customers. We’ll take a storytelling approach to share what is possible.

Before we dive into the AI talk, let’s meet our protagonist, Alice. Alice is 35, a graduate of Louisiana State University, and she is training to run her first marathon. She’s a fan of the Owl Shoes company, having purchased her first pair of running shoes from them 3 years ago.

Owl Shoes uses both Twilio Segment and Twilio Flex to build a “golden profile” for each customer, complete with their historical information and populated with real-time data. This single source of truth of their customers means that those customers are treated to personalized messages and experiences throughout engaging with the brand.

Sharing personalized content is more important than ever. 57% of consumers think they’ll spend more on a brand with personalized experiences and 66% say they’ll stop using a brand if they have impersonalized experiences.

In exploring Alice’s unique journey with Owl Shoes, we’ll see how her customer profile builds with each interaction. Her journey will take us through three use cases where Twilio, integrated with AI, will take the stage in the retail industry:

  • A fully automated self-service shopping experience

  • An agent assisted shopping experience

  • A customer initiated order return

Let’s dive in.

Alice and AI

The first section will cover a scenario where Alice makes a purchase from Owl Shoes through Twilio’s integration with artificial intelligence.

Alice turns to the Owl Shoes website when she decides she needs new sneakers for her track workout but quickly discovers that the style she is looking to purchase is sold out.

She clicks on the webchat on the bottom of the Owl Shoes website and asks the bot if her desired shoe will be in stock any time soon.

Thanks to Segment, the webchat can provide a context aware response. It uses Alice’s historical profile, recent events, and real-time browsing history for a full view of Alice as a patron. Alice explains that she is looking for shoes that are out of stock, and the chat returns that her desired item is available on pre-order. Since Alice’s address and payment is on file from her previous purchases, Owl Shoes can set up Alice with an immediate pre-order.

In answering a series of prompts, Alice can select her desired size and color of the shoe (LSU purple, of course!), and in less than 60 seconds, she went from inquiry to purchase.

Screenshot 2023-05-05 at 11.35.00 AM

The chatbot uses Alice’s history to provide personalized messaging

Owl Shoes captured Alice’s interests and enriched her profile in Segment. This will help Owl Shoes provide a more customized shopping experience to Alice in future conversations.

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Alice’s events taken in Segment

Segment automatically sends Alice a purchase confirmation email. It also stores a record of Alice’s interactions with Owl Shoes, including her clicks on the website and interactions with sent emails.

Overall, because Owl Shoes uses Segment, they have a very strong and deep understanding of Alice as a consumer. They are able to provide her with tailored content and build her trust with their company.

Agents assisting Alice

This section will cover a scenario where Alice begins with an AI bot, then is transferred over to a live agent to complete the interaction. Both information from AI and the agent are added to Alice’s profile, furthering their understanding of her buying preferences.

As the weather is getting colder, Alice needs to buy some weather-appropriate running gear. She looks for a running jacket on Owl Shoes, and finds a hooded windbreaker she wants, but notices that they only have it in green. Alice really wants to represent her alma mater when she trains, so her heart is set on purple.

Noticing there is no purple in stock, Alice opens the chat window to check if the jacket, like her shoes, will be available on pre-order. Unfortunately, she learns that the item is out of stock and has been discontinued.

Screenshot 2023-05-05 at 11.52.43 AM

The bot can sprinkle facts about Alice into its conversation, noting that she has been a customer for 3 years and has VIP status.

At this point, the chatbot turns Alice over to a live agent, who can further help Alice find a corresponding piece of inventory she might be interested in. The agent can pull up Alice’s profile in Twilio Flex, which pulls her journey event data powered by Segment. In one screen, the agent can see Alice’s preferred ways of communicating, as well as her interactions with the Owl Shoes website.

Twilio Flex has a ChatGPT tab integrated within it. ChatGPT can provide a few options on how to reply to Alice. Each option contains context aware responses that the agent can select from to best guide Alice along her journey.

Screenshot 2023-05-05 at 11.59.02 AM

The agent uses ChatGPT to send an intelligent, empathetic, and solution oriented response geared towards finding Alice a solution.

The concierge tells Alice that the jacket is discontinued, but finds a winter sports beanie for sale in her favorite LSU purple color. The concierge can send the URL to the beanie directly in the chat, so Alice can click it and add to cart. Alice decides to purchase the hat, and is soon sent another email confirmation straight from Segment.

To ensure the context of this interaction is preserved in Alice’s profile, the concierge uses a ChatGPT summary from Flex to update Segment in a click in a button. With the ability to leverage the full lifecycle of events that occurred during purchase flow as well as the data sent from the summary to build a highly tailored, next step in the journey through Engage.

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Alice’s Segment profile is now updated with the agent summary, browsing history, items added to cart, and her completed order. This means that Owl Shoes can leverage her customer feedback, using keywords, historical traits and campaigns, to send her customized interactions.

It’s important to keep in mind that a customer journey is not necessarily linear. Alice may be in the middle of multiple journey steps with different products. This is where Segment’s comprehensive journey orchestration is game changing for Owl Shoes.

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Actions taken in Engage once a customer performs an action.

Using Segment’s Engage, Owl Shoes can cultivate more contextual nurture campaigns. They could create a flow that segmented all of their customers by their actions- in this case, those who completed a digital clientele experience summary completed with an agent summary. Owl Shoes has defined several key word scenarios and depending on if the user has completed a condition, they move on to a unique nurture campaign. For example, once a customer completes a summary with an agent, they may move into 1 of 3 branches: issues with the stock of the item, a conversation about making a return, or a conversation around canceling an order.

Screenshot 2023-05-08 at 3.03.59 PM

In Alice’s journey, we can see how her feedback routes into experience specific content, maximizing the upsell and cross sell offers that Alice actually wants. Since her desired jacket was out of stock, she was moved to the “Stick Issues VIP” journey and will receive relevant content moving forward.

The more Alice interacts with Owl Shoes, the stronger of a profile she will have. Segment’s Journeys allow any customer to move down a unique journey, based on specific keywords they have input via ChatGPT or an agent. This understanding of the customer makes them feel valued, and can improve their buying experience with your brand.

Alice and the initiated return

Our third and final scenario dives into what it looks like for Alice to make a customer initiated return.

Through Twilio, Alice was able to set her preferred mode of contact with Owl Shoes as an SMS message. A week after she received her order, Owl Shoes sent Alice an SMS message via Twilio Flex asking if she is happy with the beanie. Alice noticed that the message contained personal and unique details to her experience with Owl Shoes.

In the end, the beanie ended up being too large for Alice. The SMS from Owl Shoes reminded her of her need to return the beanie, so she began that conversation. With the SMS to Alice powered by Twilio, Segment, and Google CCAI, Alice is sent an AI reply that acknowledges that she would like to make a return and takes charge of the process, streamlining the information gathering and logistics required to process the return.

While the chatbot explains the online return process, Alice throws a curve ball and explains that she is close to a retail store at present, and would like to stop in, return the beanie, and maybe use the credit from the beanie to purchase another pair of joggers. There was no scenario for this in Journeys, so Alice is quickly passed along to a live support agent.

Looking her profile up in Flex, the agent has critical up-to-date information on Alice through her conversation history. The concierge provides Alice with a promo code that she can use to return the beanie in store, and exchange it for the joggers.

The agent remains available online until Alice confirms she completed the return. Once the conversation is finished, the summary is again passed back to Segment to continue to enrich Alice’s profile.


Throughout Alice’s interactions with Owl Shoes, she was able to create a stronger bond with their brand. The capabilities of Segment and Flex, and seamless integration with ChatGPT and Google CCPI, work together to deliver unparalleled customer experiences, while continuing to update her profile.

Harnessing real time data collection into a unified profile and leveraging AI powered communication summaries, Owl Shoes can offer Alice context aware support and personalized experiences at every step. Businesses can expect to see more improvement in customer satisfaction, conversion rate, and overall operational efficiency.

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