Retailers are goign through strutural changes as many proven formats are out dated and "showromming" is impacting many. The massive pentration of smartphones are driving showroomers for comparing prices and features. Amazon has even given users of its mobile shopping app the ability to simplify price lookups on its site by letting them scan product bar codes using their smartphone cameras. So we end up having 1/ the Amazons of the world where they have full range of products at a super competitive price of 2/ Experience-based stores that people that offers more than making a purchase. They provide a very different kinds of retail relationships with different brands and it is Cirque du Soleil meets Nordstrom.
There are no shortage innovations happening
in the word of retail design. Most aim to integrate online retail with the
traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ experience. Giant interactive screens, talking
mannequins and RFID tags are bringing the virtual into ‘real’ retail spaces and
tablet computers are turning up at pos’ from independent boutiques to
Stores such as Tesco in the UK have
introduced a ‘scan as you shop’ system that allows shoppers to bypass checkout
lines; SK Telecom, a South Korean mobile tech company, are trialing a ‘smart
cart’ a trolley complete with wi-fi enabled tablet computer that provides
product information and collects data as people shop; Nordstrom, Harrods and
Target are all trialing in-store navigation smart phone apps to give product
location and stock information.
And for those who don’t like trying on
clothes, there’s now a virtual answer: The AR Door prototype. UK high street
store Top Shop introduced the virtual change room to shoppers in Moscow last
year. Using Kinect motion sensor technology together with an Xbox console, the
prototype allows shoppers to see how clothes will look without trying them on,
via a full-length mirror/screen. There are also companies working on virtual
‘touch’ for users to ‘feel’ the texture of products they want to buy. While
still in development stage, the innovation would address one of the main problems
of shopping online. Shopping is as much a tactile experience as a visual one.
Mobile payment systems are also
infiltrating retail spaces. US hardware giant, Home Depot introduced PayPal to
almost 2,000 stores last year. Square, the mobile payment system, that
streamlines point-of-sale payments, has recently partnered with Starbucks to
implement a smart phone app allowing Starbucks customers to pay via QR code or
It’s not just bricks and mortar retailers
breaking down digital barriers in retail, online retailers, such as the online
grocery store Peapod, are establishing a physical retail presence. Product
images and QR codes line the walls of transit stops in the US, shoppers can
simply scan items to order while they wait for their train.
In a creepy addition to the tech
enabled retail experience, mannequins may now be watching you as you browse. Via
built in cameras and facial recognition software mannequins are now able to
collect data on your race, age, gender and shopping habits to assist retailers
in their marketing strategies. While it’s not quite new, retailers have been
using in store cameras to collect data for years, the addition of facial
recognition is making it a simpler process. So watch out for those mannequins!