Retail’s Big Show, 2015: Overview
The US National Retail Federation's annual Retail's Big Show 2015 event, held in New York last week, provided useful insights into new and incoming retail innovations. Especially noteworthy topics included interactive fixtures to upgrade the in-store experience; response and recognition technology devised to forge more accurately targeted advertising; and mobile-focused initiatives delivering tech-enhanced super service.
Interactive Retail Fixtures
- American beverage brands Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi are expanding their in-store digital advertising by installing thousands of drinks refrigerators with translucent screens embedded into the doors in partnering retailers' stores. The screens play video ads that can be updated remotely, in real-time, to promote specific offers or correspond with a sporting event, for instance.
- North Carolina-based tech specialist T1 Visions presented retail tables designed for luxury US department store Neiman Marcus featuring interactive touchscreens (allowing for browsing the brand's full website while on the shop floor) and also credit card readers.
Facial Recognition Tech for Better-Targeted Content
- Japanese technology firm NEC demonstrated facial recognition technology powered by Microsoft Kinect software that's capable of identifying the age and gender of shoppers. NEC revealed that it's currently working with Anheuser-Busch on an initiative for the US Super Bowl next month, to be deployed in bars the brewery will be running at the event. Cameras used to monitor consumers will additionally identify the logo of the beer a person is holding, and then display witty corresponding comments according to their gender/age profile.
- NEC is also working on a Kinect-based interactive product installation for American mass retailer Target. Launching in April 2015, a screen behind the products plays video ads targeted at a customer's age and gender, as well as providing reviews and competitors' prices. It also notifies store associates when an individual has picked up a product three times or more for at least 30 seconds, so they know whether or not to approach them.
Tech-Enhanced Customer Service
- Some retailers are also leveraging mobile devices to augment in-store service. Thanks to geolocative beacon technology, customers at Austin, Texas locations of US video-game retailer GameStop who opt into its mobile app now receive welcome message upon entering the store.
- They also receive product information and reviews directly to their screens when holding their phones up to beacons on shelves, and augmented reality content in the form of video trailers of games, which play when a customer hovers their phone above product packaging. See Media-Enhanced Packaging for more on this. The app also provides the ability to send video playing on personal screens onto the nearest TV in the store. See Sales-Boosting Beacons for more on the value of beacon technology in-store.
- A concept pitched at larger retailers comes from Texas-based computerised shopping trolley specialist MediaCart, also working with Microsoft. The company has devised shopping carts embedded with tablets which, via barcode scanners identifying the products, deliver in-store wayfinding, product information, shopping lists, price comparisons, and generic video advertising. See also Tech-Enhanced Grocery for further insights.