Personalization and physical-digital integration dominate retail innovation

| by Elliot Maras
Personalization and physical-digital integration dominate retail innovation

Photo courtesy of ShopTalk

ShopTalk demonstrated the unparalleled speed and scope at which technology is raising the bar for retail. Scores of presenters and exhibitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center introduced concepts to better personalize the customer experience and integrate physical and digital retail formats.

New applications include voice-activated commerce, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality and, of course, mobile commerce. 

And while it's safe to say that more retailers are investing in mobile order-and-pay than in self-serve kiosks, dedicated e-commerce retailers such as Amazon are increasingly investing in physical spaces, pointing to a largely uncharted future for unattended retail.

Amazon officials noted in a keynote session that customer response to their Amazon Go cashierless store has been encouraging.

The conference made it abundantly clear, however, that Amazon is not alone in exploring unattended retail.

BingoBox, a similar concept, has more than 300 locations in 30 cities in China, according to Hans Tung, a managing partner at BingoBox investor GVV Capital and a presenter at ShopTalk.

Farfetch, an e-commerce fashion retailer that also presented at ShopTalk, has tested a modular platform that has been compared to Amazon Go, since customers tap their phone on a barcode to gain entrance to the store and pay via mobile phone. 

Another oft-repeated conference theme was that multichannel shoppers spend more than single-channel shoppers. And while mobile is becoming a more important important part of the customer journey, retailers and brands alike are recognizing that having a physical presence improves e-commerce sales, creating new opportunities for self-serve kiosks. 

Following are some examples of enhanced personalization and other innovations from the ShopTalk trade show floor.


Natalia Zieba presents the Marxent Labs virtual reality furniture design experience.

Marxent Labs VR furniture experience

Marxent Labs demonstrated the virtual reality in-store furniture design experience that Macy's Inc. is scaling to an additional 60 locations.

Macy's CEO and Chairman Jeff Gennette described the virtual reality in-store furniture design experience in a keynote address.

The VR experience allows customers to design and experience the interior of a room for which they are purchasing furnishings.

The 3D furniture experience allows customers to place furnishings in a virtual room they design using a tablet. Shoppers map out the dimensions and shape of the room, then select the items they want from Macy's furniture assortment and place them in the room.

Customers can refine the design as needed and test it out virtually by stepping into the room, using VR headsets that allow them to walk around the furnishings.

 

      

Brandon Weber of RetentionLogic examines the kiosk
at the Square booth.

Square self-serve kiosk

Square demonstrated a self-order kiosk the company developed for Shake Shack.

Working with Fuzz, a product design company specializing in mobile and web strategy, Square and Shake Shack built a kiosk that accepts payments using Square hardware. 

The Square reader SDK provides a PCI- and EMV-compliant solution that accepts credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and gift cards. 

Shake Shack had already introduced a mobile app, but was looking for ways to further improve the customer experience.

      Tim Duckworth demos the actiMirror.


ActiMirror smart mirror

ActiMirror presented a "smart mirror" with a high-resolution display activated by sensors. 

Following an interaction, the mirror returns to its former state as functional decor.

The smart mirror delivers real-time personalized consumer experiences and data analytics insights for the retail, hospitality, healthcare and exhibition sectors.

The interface uses SDKs and APIs, enabling developers to integrate new applications.

The unit has been deployed to enhance cosmetics and apparel departments in retail stores.

ActiMirror has also been used as a hotel room concierge.

 

 

    Casper Fogg presents an endless aisle kiosk
                 at the Wundersign booth.

Wundersign endless aisle

Wundersign presented its cloud-based "catalog kiosk," which has already been installed in more than 7,500 home furnishings merchants, but can be applied to nearly all retail verticals.

The kiosk allows consumers to browse a full digital catalog rather than having to leave the store. In serving shoppers, the kiosk collects customer analytics that can be used for marketing.

The system's open architecture allows retailers to integrate the kiosk with existing POS and ERP systems. 

 

    Andrew Tejada demos Card Connect
    at the First Data booth.

CardConnect payment platform

CardConnect, a technology-oriented commerce solutions provider owned by First Data, presented its CardPointe platform.

The solution, designed for small to midsize businesses, includes a reporting and transaction management portal that extends to a native mobile app.

The company's payment solution, known as CardSecure, provides organizations with an integrated way to securely accept and manage electronic payments within its systems running SAP software.

 

 Brian Irish presents the Pickup Tower
            with robotic arm technology.

Bell and Howell Pickup Tower with robotic arm technology

Bell and Howell demonstrated the "Pickup Tower" the company has installed in more than 100 Walmart stores, with as many as 1,000 additional implementations planned this year.

The unit is a 16-foot robotics-based parcel terminal called the PackRobot manufactured by Cleveron, an Estonia-based developer of self-service click-and-collect technology.

The Pickup Tower offers customers fast and easy access to products ordered on Walmart.com for pickup in a store.

Once an online order is ready, the customer receives an email or text notification with a code. The customer then goes to the Pickup Tower in a selected Walmart store, scans a code and receives the order in less than 15 seconds.

 

Nick Smyth demonstrates e-commerce
personalization software by Qubit

Qubit product discovery solution

Qubit, a provider of marketing personalization software, presented a product discovery solution for the mobile web.

The product, Aura, sits on an existing mobile website and, through AI-powered personalization, changes the products a user will see based on their behavior. 

The solution creates an integrated discovery environment joining a user's behavior with programmatic experiences, such as product recommendations. Machine learning and event-level data collection organizes products based on the individual shopper's interests with a UX designed to overcome the limitations of a small screen. 

While two visitors start out seeing the same thing, Qubit Aura adapts to provide them with individualized experiences based on their actions and predicted tastes.

 

Arik Levy presents Luxer One pickup lockers.

Luxer One pickup lockers

Luxer One presented its new custom locker form factor for buy-online, pick up in-store, order returns and other omnichannel functions.

After placing an online order, the customer receives an email with a QR code. The email directs the customer to the Luxer One BOPIS order pickup lockers at the front of the store, rather than a waiting line at the service desk.

The customer scans the QR code at the locker screen and a locker door opens automatically, allowing the customer to collect the order.

Locker compartments can be configured to specific retail scenarios where merchandise size is relatively uniform — such as in a pharmacy or in a footwear or beauty products store — or greatly differentiated — such as in department stores or sporting goods stores.

 

             Yoni Zoldan demos Google Pay.

Google Express and other solutions

Daniel Alegre, president of retail and shopping at Google, announced the Google Express shopping service.

This new program prioritizes certain retailers' merchandise in Google search results. He also presented the Google Assistant virtual assistant platform and other new products.

"Shopping Actions" is designed to drive larger sales for retailers and provide Google users with a seamless purchase journey whether it starts on a mobile device, a laptop, a desktop or through a voice assistant Google Home device.

Other products demonstrated included Google Pay, which has been installed on the Las Vegas monorail system.


Topics: Customer Experience, Interactive / Touchscreen, Manufacturers, Mobile Payments, Retail

Companies: Square, Google, Amazon, Macy's



Elliot Maras
Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.

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