PYMNTS - Voice Technology - September 2023

Kohl’s, Simon Property and Klarna Sprinkle AI Magic to Boost Holiday Spend 

The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) is proving to be a holiday miracle for brands, retailers and even payment providers, reshaping the way they connect with consumers.  

Particularly during the holiday season, in a highly competitive environment where consumers are cautious with their spending and seeking genuine value, AI provides a unique opportunity to create immersive experiences. These experiences not only capture the interest of shoppers, but also foster brand loyalty.  

This effort is heightened by the recent “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report — The Savings Deep Dive Edition” by PYMNTS Intelligence and LendingClub, which details consumers’ outlook on the economy.  

The report indicates that consumers, particularly concerned about inflation, are becoming increasingly negative. They are gearing up for the possibility of enduring price pressures and approaching their spending decisions with increased caution.  

Moreover, the report indicates that savings have served as a resource for consumers to navigate the challenges posed by inflation. However, this pool of savings is dwindling.  

In response, businesses are actively seeking additional avenues to encourage consumers to spend whatever they can.  

Kohl’s AI-Driven Storybook

One illustration of this is Kohl’s most recent approach – the introduction of its AI-driven Kohl’s Storybook.  

With its storybook solution, customers can input information about themselves or their gift recipient, including favorite hobbies and interests. The gift generator then employs AI technology to generate a personalized story tailored to the recipient’s personality, adding an extra magical touch to their gifts this season.  

To foster additional touch points and elaborate on its holiday experience, Kohl’s is facilitating customer connections and is promoting the discovery of holiday favorites through collaborations with influencers and social media engagements.  

For example, Kohl’s is launching a series of cross-platform augmented reality (AR) lenses titled “Holiday Kohl’s or Coal,” featured on Snapchat, TikTok, and Meta. This lens guides users through selecting gifts and determines whether they will receive a Kohl’s gift or “Coal.”  

Moreover, aiming to streamline holiday shopping and foster meaningful conversations, Kohl’s is reintroducing influencer storefronts on its website. Influencers now have dedicated pages on the site showcasing their preferred holiday gifts from Kohl’s. Each page is unique to the creator, displaying social content with Kohl’s items and a customizable assortment that the creator can update in real-time with their preferred items.  

Additionally, to further aid shoppers in discovering the ideal gifts, Kohl’s is hosting eight livestreams throughout November and December. These livestreams, accessible on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, spotlight holiday favorites curated by Kohl’s influencers, associates, and Sephora beauty experts.  

Malls Look to AI

To assist shoppers in quickly finding the ideal gift this holiday season, Simon Property Group has introduced what it calls the next generation of gift shopping — a team of personal shoppers supported by Simon’s “HolidAI” gift-finding tool.  

Scheduled for release at Simon properties in New York and Los Angeles on Black Friday, November 24, a group of Simon “helper elves” will be present and prepared to aid shoppers with assistance from ChatGPT 4.0-powered technology linked to a database of retailer-specific gift ideas.  

“Shopping at our centers during the holiday season is always festive, and we are excited to make the experience extra special this year with our Simon ‘helper elves’ who will be using customized AI technology to make gift finding easier for busy shoppers,” said Lee Sterling, Simon Chief Marketing Officer in a statement. “As holiday shoppers engage with our lively, knowledgeable helper elves, they will experience the thrill of pinpointing just the right gift thanks to the latest advancements in AI.”  

BNPL Leverages AI

Finally, buy now, pay later (BNPL) solution providers such as Klarna have looked to integrate and provide consumers with AI-powered shopping feeds to encourage them to complete their purchases. This initiative aligns with the fact that more than a third (36%) of U.S. shoppers are said to be open to exploring AI to improve their shopping experience this holiday season.  

While Klarna launched its AI shopping feeding in April, the solution provider is discovering that consumers are increasingly turning to its shopping experience. PYMNTS notes that when evaluating the debt they are carrying and the associated servicing costs, consumers might be inclined to transition away from credit cards.