- Mall of America debuted an augmented reality (AR) experience that lets shoppers interact with a holiday-themed story through their smartphones as they walk through the mall, according to an announcement.
- To participate, people can download AR browser XenoPlay. The app then guides users to discover dedicated locations throughout the mall, where they can take pictures and share on social media.
- Each AR experience tells a part of the holiday story and incorporates oversized toy décor throughout the 5.6-million-square-foot mall during the holiday season. Upon completing the story, mall guests can enter a contest to win a shopping spree.
Mall of America's holiday-themed AR experience adds to the entertainment value of visiting the massive shopping center during the holiday shopping season. Its partnership with XenoPlay is another example of how mobile technology can work with brick-and-mortar or experiential retailing to provide a more complete shopping experience for consumers. Because the experience is like a virtual scavenger hunt, it urges shoppers to visit all parts of the mall, increasing foot traffic for the building's hundreds of retailers and deepening engagement as people spend more time exploring the mall.
As many shopping centers have suffered during the "retail apocalypse" of the past few years, Mall of America's creative effort is a way to experiment with strategies to entertain shoppers through full-fledged experiences, encouraging people to visit in-person instead of buying gifts online.
Retailers this year have added AR features to their mobile apps to urge store visits or to help people make informed decisions about purchasing products such as cosmetics, home furnishings and fashion. Target this week added an AR feature to its mobile app to help shoppers find the right-sized artificial Christmas tree, and 360-degree views of "holiday rooms" that showcase home decorating ideas.
Worldwide spending on AR and virtual reality (VR) is set to surge 68.8% from this year to about $20.4 billion in 2019, according to the International Data Corporation. One of the most popular commercial uses for AR/VR technology next year is forecast to be online retail showcasing, with estimated spending of $558 million. The retail industry will spend $1.56 billion on AR/VR technology in 2019, IDC estimates.