This Christmas is shaping up to be the year of augmented reality (AR), with shopping precincts from London to the Gold Coast using the tech to bring their festive displays to life.
Coming after the runaway success of AR game Pokemon Go, which was released earlier this year, retailers are finding new ways to lure customers to bricks and mortar locations with special deals and experiences accessible through their phones.
London shopping precinct, Covent Garden, has been transformed for Christmas into the world’s first augmented reality (AR) shopping destination.
Over 140 stores and restaurants are taking part, in partnership with tech company Blippar.
Blippar chief operating officer, Danny Lopez, said Covent Garden is the perfect backdrop for demonstrating the potential of AR.
“This year we at Blippar will help digitally enhance the Christmas shopping experience and I’m thrilled that millions of visitors will be part of such an exciting event.”
Merging bricks and clicks, shoppers can expect digitally enhanced, interactive experiences from brands across beauty, fashion and accessories including Mulberry, Dior and Kiehl’s.
Visitors can also meet Santa in an interactive grotto and embark on an AR treasure hunt to catch reindeer hidden in the area, including a digital reindeer that will soar above the square.
A giant Christmas tree has also been decorated with special offers that shoppers can unlock using Blippar. For those unsure about what to get their friends and family for Christmas, Blippar has also teamed up with style editors from Esquire, Elle and Cosmopolitan to create fashion and beauty gift guides.
Capitalising on the added foot traffic its flagship location attracts over the Christmas period, iconic French department store, Galeries Lafayette, is using AR to promote an environmental cause.
The ‘Amazing Arctic Christmas’ tells the story of a family of polar bears who need to leave the North Pole due to melting ice caps. The bears finally end up at Galeries Lafayette’s store on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris.
Each year Galeries Lafayette produces amazing Christmas windows, this year created entirely out of recycled paper.
To bring the story to life, the retailer has launched an app in collaboration with Parisian start-up Sky Boy. This will animate a paper polar bear, showing it wandering through virtual snow in a 360 degree view.
Closer to home, Gold Coast shopping destination Pacific Fair has also unveiled a Christmas campaign that uses augmented reality (AR) to bring the festive season to life.
The ‘12 Days of Christmas’ experience features art installations that represent 12 Gold Coast icons including three sleeping koalas and eight shimmering seashells.
Shoppers will be encouraged to scan the pieces with their phones to see the figures come to life. Once all 12 have been animated through the app, visitors will be rewarded with a complementary ice cream voucher.
Pacific Fair’s centre manager, Steven Ihm, said the 12 Days of Christmas combines the old and new to delight visitors.
“This activation takes traditional Christmas decorations and merges it with new technology to give our shoppers a truly immersive and magical Christmas experience,” he said.
“At Pacific Fair and throughout AMP Capital Shopping Centres [which owns Pacific Fair] we are always looking for ways we can use new and emerging technologies to provide unique experiences for our customers; our 12 Days of Christmas app takes you on an adventure the whole family will enjoy.”
The initiative follows the release of a report from AMP, which found consumers are looking for more diverse experiences when shopping. It noted that 73 per cent of shoppers would spend as much or more if a shopping centre offered surprising experiences.
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