The Entertainer has partnered with tech consultancy Red Ant to create an AI-driven online chat service with a difference.

From now, visitors to the toy specialist’s website can have a ‘live’ chat with Santa about the toys and games they are looking to buy this Christmas.

Santa – a costumed version of the retailer’s animated mascot Jack – will also tell jokes and proffer festive facts through both voice and text input.

The character asks browsers two profiling questions – age and price range – enabling it to give relevant and personalised responses to their queries. 

It may also direct shoppers to other helpful pages, such as the store finder or FAQ pages.

Using new data from the live chat logs, the festive service and its responses will be continuously refined. 

The Entertainer head of online and digital Rob Wood said: “We wanted something that was fun, relevant and genuinely useful, and Santa Chat is all three. It also paves the way for future connected retail initiatives.”

The retailer posted a healthy rise in sales at the half-year mark, bolstered by growth in its own-label offer and aggressive bricks-and-mortar expansion.