Mall of America, known for being America’s largest mall, has a new retail partner with a decidedly techie bent: The Minnesota-based mall operator unveiled a new location-based retail chatbot to offer recommendations and speed service during the hectic holiday shopping season.The brick-and-mortar giant worked with Satisfi Labs on the artificial intelligence program, which will make the bot available on the Mall of America’s website, app and Facebook, as well as through an Amazon Alexa skill.“They have the opportunity to ‘chat’ with us,” said Sarah Townes, vice president of marketing for Mall of America. “Guests can ask a variety of questions that are geared towards navigating around Mall of America, or more personal questions such as where to find a great gift for someone on their Holiday shopping list.” Using natural language, the bot can also provide directions based on the user’s location and convey which stores stock particular brands.If a complex request requires a human touch, she added, the customer can ask to connect with a customer service representative or concierge.“On top of location, the bot uses the source of the question [mobile, Alexa, etc.] as a context point to deliver a unique answer,” explained Justine Santa Cruz, vice president of strategic partnerships and alliances at Satisfi Labs.Though MOA’s retail location bot is the first of its kind for Satisfi, it’s not the firm’s first chatbot. “We’ve done work with other malls, such as the Irvine Company, where we launched an SMS bot called ‘At Your Service,’ which mall visitors can use to search for tenants, services and special events happening at their local mall,” Cruz said.The company also worked on Macy’s retail pilot program last year for “Macy’s On Call,” which responded to customer inquiries about in-store inventory, available brands, promotions and services at their local location, as well as bots for major sports leagues and entertainment like “Miss Saigon” on Broadway.With e-commerce surging and the number of malls dwindling, innovation takes on a more critical retail role. In recent years, MOA has been focused on its digital transformation, an initiative that previously culminated in a test with SoftBank’s humanoid robot, Pepper. The mall-based machine will support this latest AI chatbot sometime in early 2018.“Innovation is a key factor to Mall of America’s success,” said Townes. MOA recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and it “has seen the retail industry transform drastically over those 25 years. Right now, we look at the evolving retail landscape as an opportunity for Mall of America to really own the brick and mortar shopping, dining, and entertainment experience.”As many as 2,500 guests lined up outside MOA on Black Friday morning, “waiting for us to open at 5 a.m.,” she added. “This is great proof that guests are still craving that shopping experience.”
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ’Oh I can start my own company, oh I can lear to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing I want to do,” said @brooklyndecker ahead of her @sxsw talk for @createcultivate. The former model took the stage to share wisdom about networking and female-driven entrepreneurship. #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.