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Gymboree Refreshes Brand With AR-Powered Mobile App

Gymboree, the San Francisco-based children's apparel retailer, launched a custom-made interactive mobile app called "Made You Smile" that animates its designs with a layer of augmented reality (AR), per a statement shared with Retail Dive's sister publication Mobile Marketer. The app also includes other features, such as a Smile Generator that creates emojis that are animated based on facial expressions.

The AR feature of the app, which was created by digital marketing agencies HelloWorld and Space150, also links to Gymboree's "Surprize Surprize Sweepstakes" instant-win experience, where customers have the chance to win prizes, such as a backyard playhouse, a $5,000 shopping spree or a new car, from July 16 to September 4. "The app is available for iPhone and Android users.

The app is part of a rebranding campaign Gymboree unveiled on July 16, which includes a new product line focused on quality fabrics, comfort and pieces designed to work together, and enhanced in-store experiences that cater to parents and children. The effort includes a full-length music video and cut-downs for in-cinema, connected TV and social and digital placements featuring kids performing Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."


Gymboree's "Made You Smile" app is part of the company's effort to rebuild sales and reach a new generation of tech-savvy parents and kids after emerging from last year's bankruptcy filing.

Gymboree's better financial condition isn't a guarantee of success, and the company's new mobile app is a sign of recognizing the importance of its digital sales strategy. About one-fourth of Gymboree's sales come from its websites, and the retailer is offering significant discounts to coincide with Amazon Prime Day, the e-commerce giant's annual online shopping event.

Going into the key back-to-school shopping season, Gymboree appears poised to woo shoppers with better value while using its mobile app to make the in-store experience more enjoyable for kids and parents. The app's AR functionality follows other retailers, including 7-Eleven and Zara, that have used the technology to drive customers to brick-and-mortar locations and build brand awareness and connections.

Like Toys R Us, Gymboree was acquired by private-equity investors who loaded up the company with unsustainable debt as consumers shifted their shopping habits to digital platforms. As major department store chains lost money and closed locations, shopping malls and specialty retailers were negatively affected by declining foot traffic. Gymboree Group closed more than 360 stores during its restructuring, leaving about 940 stores total for three brands in the U.S. and Canada. While Toys R Us shut down permanently this month, Gymboree managed to cut $900 million in debt and get out of bankruptcy on a sounder financial footing, per CNBC.