Struggling retailers and social media marketers
Last Tuesday I attended FutureM, where I sat in on a retail technology presentation and a social media panel. The topics were very different – “The Store of the Future” and “The Future of Social is Action and ROI” – but they also shared a lot of similarities. Both represent currently struggling areas, with only 12% of companies considering themselves effective users of social media, and retailers rapidly losing market share to the 66% of online shoppers who prefer eCommerce to in-store shopping. Both see increasing adoption of technology as a threat and opportunity. And both need to incorporate technology into their core plan to achieve specific, measurable business objectives. This post will focus on “The Store of the Future”, covering what the coming years will bring in the retail world.
The Store of the Future
Let me say one thing up front: the store of the future is going to be absolutely insane. Have you seen Minority Report? Because their futuristic view of retail, with Tom Cruise seeing personalized digital ads addressing him by name as he walks by, was closer to reality than science fiction. Dan Shust, Executive Director of RI: Lab, and Gary Lombardo, Solutions Marketing Lead for Demandware, walked us through the future predictions in retail.
The future of brick-and-mortar sales may look disconcertingly similar to Minority Report’s vision
Beyond standard brick-and-mortar improvements like incorporating in-store ratings and reviews – four out of five people surveyed said positive reviews influenced them to buy items online – technology is already transforming the interactive in-store experience. To avoid boring you, I’ll only include the most exciting highlights.
Current technology in retail
LL Bean’s shoes have RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags in them that correspond to in-store displays. When a customer picks up a pair of shoes, a nearby monitor on the wall immediately displays info and images of that shoe, making for a much more interactive shoe-buying experience. This technology isn’t a gimmick; LL Bean saw a 28% lift in sales of shoes tagged this way.
Intel developed camera technology that can distinguish an individual’s basic features such as gender, height, weight, and ethnicity. This technology is similar to Minority Report’s entirely customized digital ad experience. As the camera feeds that information to a digital display, the display then shows the consumer an ad based on their information. Awesome? Yes. Creepy? Yes.
Lastly, the Tesco grocery store chain in South Korea uses QR technology to create popup stores on billboards. Imagine coming home after a busy day and waiting in the subway for the next train. You’re too busy to go grocery shopping, but you notice an ad on the train platform with pictures of various food items. You pull out your phone and start scanning QR codes for the items you want, and then complete an easy-checkout process with your saved credit card information. The items are delivered to your house the next day.
Image 1: Tesco customers in South Korea can do their grocery shopping anytime, anywhere
Completing your entire shopping experience using hand gestures in front of a giant screen, at-home scanning and visualization of how clothes and accessories would look on you, and 3D printing of trial (and eventually full) products? It’s all going to happen, and sooner than you think.
The store of the future will combine the best aspects of online and in-person shopping to offer customers convenience, personalization, engagement, and exceptional customer service.
Until next year
The pace of technological innovation continues to increase, and consumers readily adopting technological changes force brands to follow suit or be left behind. Would you prefer in-store shopping to eCommerce if retailers incorporated all of the technology mentioned above? Let me know! For now, I’ll continue my shopping addiction with Amazon.com.