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Retail technology

Mall of America launches elf hologram concierge to help guide gifting

Mall of America has launched an interactive hologram called “Ellie the Elf”,  which acts as a concierge and helps advise customers on which gifts to buy their loved ones this holiday season.

Activated via voice command, customers can interact with the hologram, which lives on a screen in the shopping center, by standing next to a small control board, and speaking into a microphone. 

The experience operates much like a chatbot, going down the route of a decision tree to get to suggestions for users. When users ask “Ellie, I’m looking for a gift for my mom”, for instance, it then responds by asking further questions to determine the perfect gift.

The aim of the experience, which was created in partnership with VNTANA, is to both ease the shopping journey for customers, and create a fun interaction.

“At our core, Mall of America is an experiential retail destination,” said Sarah Townes, VP of marketing at the company. “VNTANA’s hologram technology is a great way to capitalize on our multi-channel chatbot we launched last year and provides yet another interaction for guests to experience that not only offers a fun interaction but also assistance to those searching for gift ideas this holiday season.”

When approaching the hologram, customers are also invited to find gifts via different categories of suggestions. These are broken down into women, men, teens, kids and babies, for instance, after which new categories emerge such as “tech” or “experience”. 

The concierge can then also show customers where they can find the specific items they are looking for, by explaining on which level and area of the mall they are located.

How are you thinking about interactive retail experiences? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media technology

ICYMI: Mary Meeker’s internet trends, Balenciaga’s t-shirt meme, drones at Walmart

Balenciaga - ICYMI mary meeker internet trends meme
Balenciaga

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis [Recode]
  • Balenciaga heard you like shirts, so they put a shirt on a t-shirt for $1,300 [Mashable]
  • Walmart’s future may include in-store drone assistants and smart shopping carts [CNBC]
  • How Natalie Massenet’s new VC firm sees the future of retail [Pitchbook]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Blockchain can help authenticate ownership of fashion goods [WWD]
  • Blockchain and beauty go together, according to Tev Finger [WWD]
  • AmEx pilots blockchain-based loyalty rewards with Boxed [RetailDive]
  • Google is actually pretty good at identifying what people are wearing [Racked]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • ‘Need it, text it, get it’: How concierge service Jetblack is aiming to beat Amazon Prime [Glossy]
  • How OPI is hacking Amazon and data algorithms to improve its online site [Glossy]
  • Lululemon hits record high on revamped stores [Reuters]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Snapchat launches its first Lens that reacts to sound [Engadget]
  • How Macy’s is using its store employees and stylists as Instagram influencers to drive sales [Glossy]
PRODUCT
  • ALYX’s Matthew M. Williams reveals data-inspired Nike capsule [HypeBeast]
  • Zac Posen’s new Delta uniforms are the ultimate high-performance outfits [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • The Gucci-Gap divide: How luxury is winning the race for millennial spend [BoF]
  • J.Crew will relaunch this fall [Racked]
  • The changing face of fashion PR [BoF]
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e-commerce Retail technology

Target introduces AR and text-to-chat beauty concierge service

Beauty Concierge at Target

Target is upping its beauty game with a focus on personalized experiences through a series of digitally-enabled features both in-store and at the customer’s home.

The so-called Target Beauty Studio is a partnership between the US retailer and Perfect Corp.’s YouCam Makeup software, which allows users to virtually try on hundreds of makeup items using augmented reality on Target.com (desktop and mobile).

Meanwhile, the experience is also being trialled at 10 select stores across the country, with further roll out plans later this year. The feature is reminiscent of what many beauty brands such as Sephora and Bourjois have been doing in the try-on space in a bid to offer shopper more tools for discoverability and decision-making both on and offline.

Target virtual try-on powered by YouCam
Target virtual try-on powered by YouCam

“When it comes to shopping beauty, our guests love to explore,” said Christina Hennington, senior vice president of beauty and essentials at Target. “With the introduction of these new initiatives, which blend physical and digital to create an enhanced experience, we’re giving Target’s guests even more convenient options to find the perfect beauty items for their unique needs.”

Tapping into its younger consumer’s peer-to-peer messaging behaviour, Target is also introducing a text-to-get beauty advice service that will enable consumers to chat to Beauty Concierge representatives both on Target.com and via SMS. On the website users can click a ‘chat’ icon to type their questions and receive answers in real time, while on mobile users can text “BeautyChat” to a dedicated number to receive a response.

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social media

Tommy Hilfiger opens ‘social concierge’ service to 8 million+ followers for #NYFW

TommyHilfiger_spring14_socialconcierge

Tommy Hilfiger is opening up its social concierge initiative to its online following this fashion week season. First launched at its spring/summer 2014 show in September, this service enables users to request bespoke assets – pictures through to collection information – in real-time.

The aim is to provide immediate customised access to the collection and the show, in order to enable social media storytelling.

This was only offered to media and influencers physically in attendance in September, but Monday’s show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, will invite any of Tommy Hilfiger’s eight million followers on Facebook, 473,000 on Twitter and 155,000 on Instagram, as well as global media, to participate.

A staff of roughly 100 photographers – up from 30 in September – will be on hand to fulfil the personalised requests. They will be both on- and off-site, receiving requests via email and Twitter, and working to respond as quickly as possible.

“Efficiency is a top priority,” a spokesperson at the company told me. “Blink and the moment is over – media and consumers don’t want to wait to see coverage, and the social concierge facilitates that process.”

tommyhilfiger

While there’s no automation involved, it is perhaps inevitable many of the requests will be similar or the same, like a backstage make-up shot, or a picture of Tommy himself, maybe one of the model opening the show (last season Jourdan Dunn), or a detailed view of one of the pieces – therefore easing the load.

An image bank will be created accordingly for the team to draw from throughout the event, but they are also willing to gather more specific assets both backstage and front of house. Fans are actively encouraged to be as creative and original with their requests as they like. Last season saw bespoke deliveries ranging from a personal handwritten message from certain models to an image of Tommy with his thumbs up.

Avery Baker, CMO of the Tommy Hilfiger group, said: “This ‘beat-the-clock’ mentality is an important component of amplifying our brand message in the new digital age of fashion where coverage and commentary are happening in-the- moment before it’s on to the next!”

Tommy Hilfiger is also hosting a runway “Instameet”, inviting 20 local Instagrammers to join onsite on show day and receive a guided tour of the set, including backstage. The initiative is in collaboration with Brian Difeo (@bridif) and Anthony Danielle (@takinyerphoto), both influential New York Instagram users. The hashtags to follow include #tommyfall14 and #nyfwinstameet.