Retail shopping will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 1000 years. Everything will change, stores will behave more like websites and websites more like stores. The fundamentals of what a store is its purpose and function is already changing. Increasingly, retailers are using beacons to enhance in-store experiences while simultaneously bridging your physical and online experiences.
Beacons are small wireless devices that transmit a continuous radio signal. The signal ID is detected by smart phones. They send the ID to a cloud server. The server can then push targeted content to the device Bluetooth, Low Energy is a technology behind beacons and it provides a device location on a very micro level, Down to a single stall aisle, for instance. This means that, if you have opted in retailers will be able to gather data not only on your movements but also be able to push content to your device.
Say: you’re walking past your favorite department store and they’re having a sale with a beacon nearby. Your phone could alert you to the sale From a retailer’s perspective. The data collection aspect of beacons is arguably more important in sales. They will be able to use the information to better segment customers and advertise accordingly. Stores like Macy’s and Rituals have already deployed beacons. Retailers are no longer content to ‘just’ identify us via swipe of a loyalty card at the point of sale. They want to identify us as soon as we enter the store. The iPhone X has helped to normalize facial recognition. While using this technology, Retailers aim to provide a customized experience. The technology which uses over 16,000 reference points on your face was originally designed to support security on international airports.
By using facial recognition Systems, retail staff will know what type of products you buy and what your average spend is. Therefore, they can give more love to the higher spenders. They will be able to use software that reads emotion to identify when you are frustrated and notify staff to respond. Of course, The staff that do respond may not be your typical human employees and that’s when you meet your new robot shopping assistant,
“Hello. I am Lemonbot. What are you looking for today?”
Robot assistant technology already exists and can greet you in multiple languages. They have built-in 3d scanners, with image recognition software to identify items and navigate the store to guide you to the product. If you have an out-of-the-box question, that is beyond the robot and it can start a video conference with a human. The robots are not limited to customer interaction and will also move into the supply chain. These robots are intelligent enough to navigate trough existing stores and move around customers. The data these robots gather is compiled and analyzed to provide improvement recommendations.
Traditional mirrors are ‘out’ and smart displays are ‘in’ – using artificial intelligence, virtual reality and gesture recognition technology. These mirrors can superimpose clothing over your on-screen image. In effect, the mirror becomes a virtual changing room where you can create complete outfits without ever getting undressed. This technology allows you to see all items, even items that are not in stock. You can virtually try on dozens of different combinations to see what the same item would look like in a different color – just by swiping your hand. You can even share your virtual picture on social media, so your friends can give you advice just before you buy that new jacket. For example, when you walk into a fitting room, the mirror comes alive with all the items you have using RFID. You can easily request other sizes, cuts and colors. This can be triggered with the display and an alert is sent directly to the sales staff who deliver the additional product to you by using Big Data. In addition, the sales staff can also bring in additional products that other customers typically buy with those items. Essentially, this brings the ease of online shopping into the tangible world of retail
Retail stores can use this technology not just to measure average time in the fitting room, but also to measure which items have the highest conversion rate and optimize the experience. Amazon is leading in this, they already have shops that identify you as you enter, and automatically charge you as you leave.
Simply put, retail in the future will have no queues, no checkouts and no hassles. As R. Laseur quoted:
“technology will become invisible, yet a necessity to live an everyday life”
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