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Mall of America, Fashion Island tap IBM Watson for the holiday Fa-la-la-frenzy

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The holiday season is upon us and, for many, this represents the most hectic shopping period of the year. Whether you’re navigating crowded shopping centers or debating what gifts to buy, the in-store experience can be particularly overwhelming.

To help shoppers better manage their holiday shopping needs, we’ve teamed up with IBM to pilot Watson-enabled mobile concierges at both Mall of America, the largest commercial shopping center in the US, and Fashion Island, a coastal shopping destination in southern California.

Mall of America’s “E.L.F.” and Fashion Island’s “At Your Service” tap into the IBM Watson Conversation API to analyze shoppers’ inquiries and help them plan more personalized in-store shopping visits right from their fingertips.

These solutions follow the success of our first pilot with Macy’s called “Macy’s On Call and illustrate how the simplicity of building with Watson’s language APIs, particularly Watson Conversation, has enabled us to expand our technology in more meaningful ways to more shoppers.

Mall of America (Bloomington, MN) – E.L.F.

Mall of America has launched its Experiential List Formulator (coined ‘E.L.F.’), a holiday-themed chatbot that uses Watson to help guests plan more personalized shopping experiences. E.L.F, which leverages the AlchemyLanguage API, can understand guest inquiries and sentiments as they interact either through Facebook or the mobile browser on their phone.

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E.L.F. guides guests through a series of questions to understand the type of visit they want to plan (such as how much time they have to spend, or what activities they prefer), then presents a selection of retail stores, theme park rides and shows as tailored suggestions. If visitors have additional questions, E.L.F. can also prompt them to interact with one of the real concierges from Mall of America’s digital guest service team.

As more customers use E.L.F. and ask a variety of different questions, Mall of America and Satisfi will review the insights gleaned during this pilot to understand new ways to leverage cognitive computing to better serve guests.

You can access a version of E.L.F. for mobile or desktop browsing at elf.mallofamerica.com, or you can engage with it directly through Facebook messages via the Mall of America Facebook page at facebook.com/mallofamerica.

Fashion Island (Newport Beach, CA) – At Your Service

Also launched today is Fashion Island’s “At Your Service,” an SMS-based mobile concierge that uses Watson to help guests navigate the shopping center. Fashion Island’s goal was to elevate its customer service by offering guests seamless access to fast information, creating in essence an enhanced directory right from the palm of their hand.

For guests at Fashion Island who want to know where they can grab a burger or sushi, or where they can find a cocktail dress for their holiday parties, the answers are now available via text message. Guests simply text (949) 734-7364 and ask anything from “Where is Neiman Marcus located?” to “Where are the restrooms?” Shoppers can search by typing brand names or items, such as “Tom Ford” or “sunglasses,” and receive tailored responses to find the stores, facilities, items and deals they’re seeking.

at-your-service-fi-sms-screenshot

Like E.L.F., At Your Service also integrates the Watson Conversation and AlchemyLanguage APIs to enable natural language interactions that improve over time.

The power of Ai is introducing enormous potential for retail, and I’m excited about the growing role data will play in this transformation. As Michelle Peluso, IBM’s CMO, said in a recent Forbes interview, because of Watson, we’re able to put more and more unstructured data to use and build innovations that further improve the consumer experience. I, along with the Satisfi team, are eager to be part of this technological turning point and look forward to continuing our work to develop deeper and more natural engagements for today’s shoppers.

If you are shopping in Minneapolis or Newport Beach, I encourage you to check out E.L.F. or At Your Service today and see how Satisfi and Watson are transforming the shopping experience. Happy holidays!

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