American Express Unveils AR Shopping for Small Business Saturday

American Express has announced its “Door to Shop Small” program for Small Business Saturday. The program by the global integrated payments company is an augmented reality shopping experience to help shoppers find and shop SMBs across the U.S. through physical and virtual shopping.

According to a newly released 2023 American Express Shop Small Impact Study, which polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults, 55 percent of SMB owners said Small Business Saturday will help contribute to their overall holiday sales this year.

Just over half of consumers stated that they will seek out SMBs over big-box retailers for gifting this season. Moreover, shoppers said they are seeking out SMBs to find unique and personal holiday gifts, with more than 70 percent of consumers saying they shop at SMBs for unique gifts that larger retailers cannot provide.

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For Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25, Amex has created pop-up doorways as art installations on Small Business Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local timings at New York’s Gansevoort Plaza, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Pioneer Court and Los Angeles Westfield Century City AMC Plaza to help bring visibility to SMBs.

Steph Hon, owner of Cadence

Cadence, Courant, Terminal B, Gray Malin, Paper Shoot Camera, Little Words Project, Made In, Sknmuse, Silked and Cut + Clarity have all partnered with Amex to virtually allow customers to “open the door” to their business, explore holiday season products and scan QR codes available to purchase products on a dedicated website.

Mobile shoppers can also visit to engage with the AR experience and buy curated products.

Steph Hon, owner of travel container product company, Cadence, said she is participating in Small Business Saturday because it celebrates SMB owners and gives the community a day to come together to support them and their businesses.

Chaz Pringle, head of partnerships at Sknmuse, a West African-inspired beauty brand, echoes this statement, noting that “most small businesses face major competition when it comes to getting on consumers’ radars, so it’s easy for us to get overlooked due to accessibility. Initiatives like these help level the playing field.”


In recent years, AR has been experimented with to allow consumers to do virtual try-ons for clothes, makeup, shoes, sunglasses and furniture — with the utilization of the technology within retail continuing to be a rapidly growing field.

The Amex report authors also found that 45 percent of Gen Z and Millennials would shop more at SMBs if they incorporated technologies such as AR.

“As a small business, capturing the attention of new customers can be a challenge, especially with a largely online presence and lots of competition out there,” Hon said. “We’re excited that we’ll be able to virtually show up in major shopping areas and allow even more people to walk ‘through our door’ and discover our products.”

While Sknmuse was aware of trending tech to help further its consumer reach in the beauty space, Pringle said the company was unable to figure out the ideal opportunity until they were approached by Amex. The AR technology integration has allowed to grow Sknmuse with more innovations and be introduced to customers with an accessible in-home shopping experience that was previously unavailable.

“We incorporated AR into Small Business Saturday this year to help get more shoppers across the country through the physical and virtual doors of small businesses, on one of the most important shopping days of the holiday season,” said Jessica Ling, senior vice president of global brand advertising at American Express. “The AR experience can engage with consumers differently than in a website experience. It’s also native to mobile, so the businesses we’re featuring will be able to reach shoppers across the country, not just those in their community.”

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