Of barks and bots: Woof revolutionizes pet care with AI chatbot powered by Google Cloud
Chief Technology Officer / Chief Product Officer, Woof
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As pet owners, we all want to make sure our pets are happy and healthy. But with so many different products and services competing for our attention, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones are best.
That's where Woof comes in. We are on a mission to revolutionize the pet industry by providing the best services and experiences for owners and local pet shops. In recent years, we’ve grown to become Brazil’s largest affiliate pet shop network connecting 100 million homes with more than 7,500 businesses through our website and app. Woof is now landing in the U.S. (the largest pet market in the globe) aiming at empowering local pet businesses and pet tutors.
But rapid growth brings its own challenges. How do you scale your knowledge base and infrastructure while continuing to provide personalized insights for customers? This is what sparked us to launch Woofer, a virtual canine consultant with his own personality, sense of humor, and understanding of pet behavior and health. By chatting with Woofer, our customers can get the very best products and advice based on personalized recommendations. Woofer is our answer to the universal question — if our pets could talk, what would they say? Ever wondered what it would be like if your pet could speak?
How to train your virtual assistant
To create a convincing personality, Woofer required sophisticated machine learning (ML) infrastructure. We looked closely at a number of cloud providers and selected Google Cloud as our development partner based on its ability to meet our scalability and functionality requirements. Google Cloud was also the most cost-effective choice compared to other options.
The project really took off when, in 2022, Woof joined the first Brazilian cohort of Google for Startups Cloud Academy, a three-month program in which startups work directly with Google Cloud experts and AI industry leaders to acquire new users, harness the power of data analysis to drive sales growth, and leverage Google AI/ML technologies. Working alongside Google mentors, we learned how to define our technology requirements, and benefited from Google Cloud’s guidance as our development team created a product roadmap and ran development sprints.
First, the marketing team set up Woofer’s profile and personality. This was a crucial first step based on our research which showed that a sense of humor and a unique identity trigger curiosity and desire in the customer. The team then set up Woofer’s first interactions, including how the chatbot would respond to queries about his personality and temperament, as well as recommending products and services relating to specific breeds and species.
It was a highly efficient process. With a clear, simplified development path and the Google Cloud technical support, we had our conversational AI ready in less than 20 days.
Where mutts meet ML
The success of the Woofer chatbot would not have been possible without the integration of advanced natural language understanding and processing capabilities. This is where DialogFlow CX, AutoML, Vertex AI and other solutions in Google Cloud proved to be invaluable.
DialogFlow CX enables Woofer to work 24/7, seamlessly switch between topics, handle follow-up queries, and operate across multiple channels. With AutoML, our developers were able to train Woofer using high-quality custom ML models with minimal effort and previous ML knowledge. As the final piece of the puzzle, we deployed Vertex to build and deploy ML models faster and more efficiently.
Other important Google Cloud solutions include BigQuery and Looker Studio, which we used to set up company-wide business intelligence dashboards that enable our entire team to monitor KPIs and performance in real time. We also use Firebase to control authentication via single sign-on between our apps and web platforms.
A different breed of chatbot
Sit, stay, accelerate growth! Woofer empowers our customers to make informed decisions about pet products and services. It’s also been great for local businesses because they can connect with customers and free up staff time by delegating repetitive FAQs and product questions to the Woofer chatbot.
We’ve also been impressed by the Google Cloud experts supporting us on our journey. We love working with them and they really feel like a core part of our team. Beyond helping us get the most out of the technology, they introduce us to the broader Google Cloud community and technical events that give us insights into future product releases.
We are now working with the Google Cloud team to apply similar technology to Woofer in other parts of the business. This includes sponsored campaigns, brand launches, and even a virtual investor relations officer who delivers key financial and operational data and dashboards.
With all the potential of running our AI on Google Cloud, we’re looking forward to letting Woofer off the leash to uncover new opportunities for U.S. and Brazilian pet owners and businesses.
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