Future Stores 2018: Retail Innovation Insights
Executives from Europe’s most progressive retailers met in London for the second edition of Future Stores (May 16-17) to share insights on how to unlock bricks-and-mortar retail’s full potential. We present some highlights.
- Austria’s Self-Checkout Concept: German multinational electronics retailer MediaMarktSaturn has opened the first cashier-less concept store for its sub-brand Saturn, as explained by Christian Stephan, the company’s head of innovation. Located in a buzzing shopping centre in Innsbruck, Austria, it’s called Saturn Express and it only offers self-checkout as a payment option – a progressive move towards friction-free retailing.
Enabled through British mobile self-checkout app MishiPay, consumers purchase products by scanning them with their smartphone camera and paying using e-wallets such as Apple Pay. Sensors at the exit correspond with users’ smartphones and unlock the items, allowing shoppers to leave the store without interacting with staff. It’s accessible via the Saturn app or a dedicated micro website. See also Amazon Go’s Checkout-Free Grocery Store and NRF 2018: Next-Gen Supermarkets.
- Click & Collect Euro Retail Hit: Stephan also highlighted the importance of click and collect, which accounts for up to 10% of sales at MediaMarktSaturn. Collection areas have been relocated to the front of the stores, and curbside pick-up was introduced in 2017. See also Convenience Retail: Curbside Delivery.
But Rashpal Ahluwalia, senior manager of digital retail at Adidas, highlighted that click and collect isn’t relevant in every region of the world: “It isn’t a thing in Asia, as e-commerce delivery [time] in cities is one hour. There’s no need to offer it.”
- Positive Friction: While retail’s goal is to reduce anything that slows the path to purchase, some speakers highlighted that adding some barriers to slow things down can enrich a store experience (see also Brand Spaces, 2018/19). At all of Amsterdam-based beauty brand Rituals’ stores, consumers are offered a tea ceremony, hand massage and meditations while they browse products.
Introducing points of friction can work. The key to success is to map the consumer’s mindset beforehand, as the journey for someone who’s in a hurry to someone being on holiday is inherently different.
- The Digitisation of Everything: Mei Chen, head of international business luxury and fashion at Alibaba, presented the group’s inventive new ideas for automotive retail in China. Eliminating the tedious research phase, including visits to various dealerships, Alibaba allows consumers to browse cars (in collaboration with Ford) via an app, visit a giant unstaffed car vending machine and test drive cars on their own. After the test drive, they arrange a meet-up with a salesperson. For more on Alibaba’s disruptive take on retail see Uni-Commerce: Chinese Retail Focus and Starbucks’ AR-Boosted Coffee Roastery.
E-commerce will be reduced to just a traditional concept, and pure e-commerce activities will be replaced by ‘New Retail’. It is not about taking away shares but blending them.
- Start-Up Focus: London start-up Sozie matches shoppers with similar body shapes to share advice together. Consumers out shopping share images taken of products in changing rooms with others that ‘tune in’ to the trip via the app. Each picture is instantly shoppable as the app’s proprietary computer vision tech identifies the product and adds in-app purchase links. Both sides are rewarded – the shopper for sharing; the online follower for giving real-time styling advice – in the form of discounts at the retailer they shop in. They can check-out via the app, skip the queue, and leave the store. The brand is currently looking for retailers willing to introduce the service to their consumers.
Retailers should not try to imitate e-commerce but rather focus on what they have – footfall.