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Can a Robot Named Pepper Save the Shopping Mall?

Can a four-foot-tall talking, walking retail robot take on Amazon? One company thinks so.

Can a four-foot-tall humanoid robot with big eyes and a sly smile somehow lure Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report   -addicted consumers back into the shopping mall? One company thinks so. The robot, known as Pepper, is the creation of Softbank Robotics America, and she was on display at the National Retail Federation show in New York this week.

Developed in Paris, Pepper's home base is now San Francisco, where she's been deployed at two malls owned by Westfield.

"There's a couple things that we know about Pepper," said Chris Norris, head of marketing at Softbank Robotics America. "People will engage.  Pepper attracts people whether by curiosity or just to see what Pepper's talking about."

Yep, Pepper talks. At the National Retail Federation, she was trying to sell shoes by describing the products while they were being displayed electronically on a screen on her chest. Softbank Robotics said tests have shown Pepper has helped increase foot traffic by 20% and has boosted revenue at retail stores.