Hammerson is trialling a voice bot at The Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham to help customers with directions, recommendations and shopping queries.
The voice bot is located in a pod near Selfridges and the trial will run for six weeks. It will build on the learnings Hammerson has made from its chatbot, which launched at the beginning of the year.
It is designed to instantly learn and deliver updated answers to shoppers on a real-time basis and has been programmed to recognise Birmingham slang.
Hammerson believes it is the first time an AI-enabled voice bot has been used in a retail destination to enhance the shopping experience.
The bot will complement two staffed customer service desks but is deliberately located a distance from them to encourage take-up.
Hammerson head of customer experience Kathryn Malloch said: “Incorporating AI technology into our shopping centres is a key part of our brand experience strategy and this innovative pilot will enable us to test shopper appetite for voice technology outside of the home and mobile devices.
“The Bullring is the perfect test bed for the trial and the data will help us understand how we can maximise this trend for retail environments. It is an invaluable way to enhance the physical shopping experience and provide insight for future opportunities for voice enabled technology such as parking assistance.”
The bot has been created in partnership with software company Web Spiders, and the pod that houses it was designed by creative production studio Sculptivate.
The pod has been designed to minimise background noise to ensure the bot can clearly hear the person talking to it.
Hammerson’s voice bot comes as it invests in digitalisation as part of its core strategy.
Other innovations include its Style Seeker visual search tool and Concrete, a tech plaform that supports start-ups in the property industry.