What's In-Store For The Future

The National Retail Foundation's Retail Big Show attracted nearly 40,000 retail professionals from 99 countries to New York this week to explore the future. Tech was dominant, as disruptors continue to nibble away at market share of the behemoths, and the behemoths look to engage new tools to keep the barbarians at the gate. Here are three emerging trends, and the startups providing competitive advantages within each trend. 

Frictionless Checkout

Amazon Go isn’t the only game in town when it comes to cashier-less checkout. Microsoft and Kroeger announced a collaboration last week to create a competitive version, and these startups are providing unique offerings within frictionless commerce.

  • Deep Magic: Think pop-up kiosk, store-within-a-store concept enabling brands to take advantage of smaller footprint without the need for staff thanks to computer vision. 
  • Zippin: AI-driven checkout-free platform enabling retailers to quickly deploy frictionless shopping and inventory tracking. 
  • Caper: a smart self-checkout cart, powered by deep learning & computer vision. Customers place items in the cart and leave the store.



Interactive Immersion

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which retailer is the most innovative of all? Storytelling and “gram-able” wow experiences are what draws people into stores. Here are a few that jumped out:

  • Mirrow: Interactive touch mirrors for fitting rooms with personal recommendations for fashion retail. Intuitive multitouch interface is built right into the mirror and can enable a variety of unique interactions.
  • Smart Pixels: an all-in-one platform focused on creating augmented displays. Imagine a T-shirt where you can change designs, colors instantly to see the variations available. All without having to display all the options on the store floor. Or if you want to custom design your Nike’s – see it happen on a prototype in real-time. 
  • BryanThings: Designs retail digital furniture and digital point-of-sale solutions for global and luxury brands. Pick up a macaroon and instantly see a video about its history, or figure out which perfume is right for you based upon your scent profile.

Hear Me, See Me

While voice dominated CES, it was less prevalent at NRF (retailers aren’t big fans of Alexa’s parent company). Yet a few new voice applications emerged amid the onslaught of facial recognition and visual search technologies that dominated the show. Here are the best of each. 

  • Vui: simplifies customer management into one brand-intelligent voice, ready to answer customers' questions. Think chat-bot like functionality in-store, utilizing voice to make it more conversational and to help create a successful sales associate.
  • Cineplex Digital Media: Part digital storefront, part facial recognition tracking, this technology is so incredibly interesting to watch you almost forget how creepy it is. Age, sex, ethnicity, sentiment and type of clothes are calculated anonymously in real time. The data can inform creative changes as well as flash sales based on the audience and set triggers.
  • Syte: visual search enables image-recognition solutions from phone photos to drive ecommerce. Snap a picture of a dress, and the tech instantly locates the item or similar items and makes them shoppable. 

Consumers are demanding to be wowed and to be known. And when they shop at your store, you must make it exceptionally easy by owning the relationship with them and building a nimble, lean and ever-evolving technology stack that can be switched out as consumer interests evolve. 

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