Mall of America and VNTANA, a mixed reality company, are collaborating to launch Ellie, Mall of America's Shopping Hologram Concierge, for the holiday season. Shoppers can give Ellie a general category like “teen" or "husband," and Ellie will follow up with additional questions to help determine the right gift for their needs.
"At our core, Mall of America is an experiential retail destination and we are thrilled to work with VNTANA to deliver this unique hologram experience throughout our holiday season," said Sarah Townes, VP of Marketing at Mall of America in a statement. "VNTANA's hologram technology is a great way to capitalize on our multi-channel chatbot we launched last year. It provides not only a fun interaction but also assistance to those searching for gift ideas this holiday season."
The software combines a chatbot with a 3D model to generate the experience, and is capable of connecting to platforms including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Alexa, IBM Watson and Satisfi Labs. In addition to suggesting gifts, the software can answer questions, schedule appointments, give directions and help with purchases.
Augmented and virtual reality platforms are part of the future of retail, and total spending on these products and services is expected to jump from $11.4 billion in 2017 to nearly $215 billion by 2021, according to IDC. As AR and VR become bigger parts of consumers’ lives, retailers will want to use these capabilities to their advantage.
“Augmented reality and voice are having a real impact on how consumers interact with brands,” said Kiran Smith, CEO of advertising and branding agency Arnold in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As we get more advanced from a personal device standpoint, retailers have to adjust the way they do business — including how they reach their customers, their payment systems and overall capabilities — to keep up. The brands that can create relevant and seamless interactions will win.”
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