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Debenhams tries on augmented reality for holiday-themed mobile promotion

British department store chain Debenhams recently used an augmented reality app to let users shop virtual pop-up stores at five landmarks around Britain.

The geo-location app lets customers view, virtually try on and buy a range of 10 holiday party dresses available exclusive via the mobile app. The pop-up stores appeared between Oct. 27 and Oct. 29 at George Square in Glasgow, Centenary Square in Birmingham, Albert Square in Manchester, Cardiff Castle in Cardiff and Trafalgar Square in London.

“Augmented reality allows brands to interact with consumers on a very personal level,” said Bill Irwin, account manager at GoldRun Inc., New York.

“By mapping virtual and online elements to the real world – in this case placing virtual dresses in high-traffic, iconic locations – GoldRun transforms the impersonal action of online shopping into a social, fun activity,” he said.

Exclusive offer
The app was created by GoldRun.

To shop the virtual Debenhams stores, iPhone users first download the GoldRun app from Apple’s App Store and select “Debenhams” from a list.

Then, consumers go to one of the five locations where Debenhams has created a pop-up store and use the app to find the invisible 10 party dresses.

Users can take a picture of themselves “wearing” the virtual dresses and share them with friends.

Visitors to the Debenhams GoldRun app received an exclusive 20 percent discount code that could be used on the retailer’s mobile site.

Debenhams launched its mobile shopping site in September to address a surge in traffic to Debenhams’ traditional Web site from mobile phones. The retailer had previously introduced mobile apps (see story).

The campaign is being promoted through social media outreach as well as traditional media.

“As more and more consumers own and actively use mobile devices, many brands are searching for the best way to engage their fans in the mobile environment,” Mr. Irwin said.

“Through Augmented Reality, GoldRun uses behaviors that consumers are familiar with in an online environment, and shifts them to the real world, offering a rich platform for meaningful engagements,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York