Minnesota’s massive mall and key tourist attraction is launching its own chatbot for the holiday season.
The bot available across various platforms, including Mall of America’s website, mobile app and Facebook page. It will let users ask questions so they can plan before they arrive. They can also ask for directions when they’re there, brainstorm gifts to buy, and learn about the mall’s deals or events. In addition to the text-based bot, the Mall and developer party Satisfi Labs created a voice-enabled skill to access the bot through Amazon Alexa.
“When you think about maybe visiting the mall for the first time, and you have your whole family with you, some kids maybe want to go see the rides, some might want to see a movie, and maybe your husband or your partner to go somewhere else and you want to go somewhere else. It’s quite overwhelming,” said Justine Santa Cruz, VP of strategic partnerships and alliances for Satisfi Labs. “You don’t even know where to park for something as big as that.”
To develop the app, the team used troves of the mall’s historical data about shoppers to understand their needs. Developers also analyzed communication with users on the mall’s Twitter and Facebook pages to get an idea of frequently asked questions—and how human customer service reps responded to those questions.
This isn’t the first time the Mall of America has developed a chatbot for holiday shoppers. Last year, it partnered with Satisfi Labs and IBM to create the Experience List Formulator (E.L.F. ), a chatbot that gave shoppers a personalized shopping experience.