3,000 Innovations in Search of an Outlet
Attention all customers. We have a retail problem, and it’s not just in aisle five. Today’s shoppers want to feel understood, entertained, and engaged. They want the shopping process to feel frictionless and fun. And they want that experience whether they’re online or inside the store. That’s the challenge we sought to tackle at the first High-Tech Retailing Summit and Marketplace at CES 2018.
Today’s retailers are hustling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. The best way to ensure a better customer experience at an affordable cost is to put technology to work. Just look at Deborah Weinswig’s presentation for invaluable data points showing what happens when you bet on tech to help ease the digital transformation. At the moment, Weinswig points to Chinese retailers leading the transformation. Referencing Alibaba’s Jack Ma, she described the “O to O” experience—the harmonious integration of online and offline. Shopping is a sport in China, says Weinswig.
High Tech Retailing also featured appearances from the retailers who hold most of the country’s cash registers: Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Though their implementation varies, they all share a vision in which technologies like AI and predictive analytics lead to a frictionless, personalized shopping experience. They’re working towards a future where any purchase anywhere feels like walking into your corner store and being greeted by “Hey Joe, nice to see you back. Sure, we’ll send that right home for ya.”
This inaugural High Tech Retailing Summit and Marketplace looked at three broad ways that tech could improve the retail experience.
Makeup mirrors, display signage that gamifies shopping, shopping in VR, augmented reality for gleaning deeper product information or self serve retail kiosks. Companies like YouCam, Outernets and USA Technologies are just a few examples of products that help turn shopping into an interesting, enjoyable experience every time.
Understanding how shoppers move through your store (online or off) and anticipating their needs is the new secret sauce. Piers Fawkes gives a knock-your-socks-off presentation of how data can transform brick-and-mortar stores into new creations. b8ta, the new retail experience for trying out new gadgets, is a data collection lab gathering stats on everything from price to point to display. Facebook is helping retailers maximize their social media strategies, while iQmetrix‘s POS and retail management systems are designed to offer a hand in the difficult job of wireless retailing. Contextualized data, often relying on sensors for information gathering, offer insights that help businesses understand why something is selling or not.
NXP offered a view of a retail world using RFID and NFC technologies to improve the in-store experience. These solutions provide personalized, interactive, and targeted content like individualized marketing offers or display monitors that suggest complementary accessories. An innovative company, Evrythng, showed an ambitious application layer capable of adding consumer engagement from product offers to personalization and automatic re-ordering. With these kinds of transformations, consumer interactions with the brand skyrocket.
Pindar Wong, Chairman of VeriFi and blockchain master, closed our program with a look at a future where machines are buying and selling to and from each other—think about your car paying for its own gas by conversing with the pump—and where items are tracked in an open, decentralized, transparent, ledger-like fashion from the moment they start as a seed in the ground until they wind up in your favorite vegetable dish.
Experiential, frictionless, personalized, and contextually aware. You’ve heard the buzzword, but this year’s High Tech Retailing Summit brought them to life.