Top 10 Retail innovations in the past 12 months
In the first quarter of 2015, e-commerce spending on mobile devices reached USD 10 billion in the United States alone. In the UK, clothing, apparel, and accessories made up for 65 percent of mobile retail searches. Tapping into this growing consumer habit, Ever enables users to purchase products they see on videos or television using a smartphone app that finds the product for them.
Making the most of the rising popularity of TV series, Seen on Set is an online platform where viewers can browse and purchase furniture, tech, homeware and decorations they have seen on film and TV.
New technologies are making it possible to experience elements of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience virtually. GoInStore, for example, lets online shoppers explore products in physical stores and showrooms via smart glasses worn by customer service assistants.
Virtual Reality is also a key player in this movement. The Virtual Reality Department Store is an immersive, personalized retail experience, where users can shop with their eyes. We also saw the first VR mall in Singapore.
Not only does live stream technology make online shopping more immersive, an e-commerce platform is using it to showcase its ethical practices. Argentine designer Alejandro Sticotti and Sudacas.com provide true transparency in production by live-streaming each item made in the workshop.
For brands wanting to ensure that CSR initiatives are communicated to their customers, Provenance is a SaaS platform that enables brands to track and display their supply chain information using blockchain.
Through augmented reality, Blippar enabled shoppers to make instantaneous purchases at fashion shows. The tech is also being used in furniture retail outlets — Tylko’s Context View lets users ‘see’ the furniture in their home before they buy, and design bespoke pieces via AR.
IBM's Watson is creating intelligence solutions in many sectors, and their Trend app now analyzes conversations on social media and review sites to forecast trends and help users chose gifts.
Despite the growth of online retail, physical stores still appeal to customers needing that tangible feel of products, or the social interaction with knowledgeable staff. But there are many ways brick-and-mortar- stores are innovating — Kenneth Cole’s physical store in NYC features 24 hour on-demand access and gif-making mirrors, much like its online counterpart.
More advances in retail shopfronts can be found in the fitting room. The Hong Kong branch of Rigby and Peller is using a smart fitting room mirror to help customers work out their ideal bra size. Uniqlo also plans to install smart, heat-sensitive mirrors in its changing rooms, to enable customers to see their Heattech thermals in action.
Long queues at checkouts are no doubt one of the most off-putting experiences of going in-store. Mishipay wants to address this with their new app — it brings the speed of the digital shopping basket to the brick-and-mortar store. Twyst and QueueHop are also using smart shopping bags and QR codes to enable shoppers to scan and pay for their items as they shop, without going through a checkout.
The age old problem of undelivered parcels are a constant source of innovation. This year, customers will be able to collect their e-commerce purchases from kiosks at ten Metro stations in New Delhi. We also saw a robotic storage tower in Estonia that is activated by QR codes.
Lastly, Beacon technology is helping forgetful shoppers cross things off their lists. Wisher is a gift registry smartphone app that lets users add items to their wish lists by taking geotagged photos of coveted items.