4 Noteworthy Technologies Making Waves in the Retail Space

By Melissa Gonzalez

We are living in a unique time when we are witnessing technological advances are driving shopper expectations at record speeds.

Consumers expect options and information at their fingertips; they expect personalized service, frictionless experiences and will reward brands and retailers that not only surprise and delight, but that deliver services that helps them unlock time back in their ever-connected, overbooked lives. From endless aisle experiences via augmented reality to voice and facial recognition, there are a wave of technologies that are being integrated to enhance the in-store retail experience.

Let’s take a look at some of them below.

Virtual try-on that drives engagement and return purchases in beauty

For a consumer, purchasing a new beauty product can be a challenging choice.

There is always a hesitation about how new colors will look, will it be a skin tone match, will it go well with other shades, and beyond.

At the new Covergirl Times Square flagship location, the brand integrated augmented reality glam stations, powered by Holition to answer these very challenges in the industry.

In-store customers can virtually try on products ranging from lipstick to eyeshadow to mascara, and share their makeovers with friends for outside council. Customers can then send themselves an email of all the products they “virtually tested” with shoppable buttons enabling them to seamlessly purchase items of interest.

This in-store capability is not only driving dwell times but also giving the brand invaluable data about in-store purchase intent which has otherwise been one of the most challenging points of data collection in a physical store environment.

Streamlining Q&A and personalization with the human side of retail’s “voice”

The most recent iterations of virtual assistants are changing how people engage and interact with businesses. There’s a growing number of consumers using voice technology to shop, pay bills, bank online or send money, and we are seeing an increasing usage of voice technology to initiate payments for goods or services.

Voice technology not only allows for increased fluidity, it also lessens friction by providing associates access to information on-demand. While voice is mainly applied to more basic tasks within shopping, for example: “Alexa, add lollipops to my shopping list”, the artificial intelligence surrounding voice capture will lead to game changing innovations in personalized shopping experiences.

From watching your product interaction to knowing your smile

Computer Vision, AI and Machine Learning go hand in hand when it comes to revolutionizing retail experiences. From frictionless checkouts, to stores that “know your name”, retailers are blurring the lines between online and offline retail.

Amazon Go continues to push the envelope in what’s possible in cashier-less shopping and has ignited a wave of companies developing automated, human-free, brick-and-mortar retail environments.

However, automation doesn’t need to mean the loss of humanization. With camera vision, retailers can now also recognize and identify a customer in seconds allowing them to implement personalized loyalty plans.

For example, gourmet candy retailer Lolli & Pops uses facial recognition to identify their VIP customers as they walk into the store. Via camera vision store associates can then deliver a personalized shopping experience by scouring the customers’ purchasing history and preferences and getting real time information.

Payments in an on-demand world

As we continue to see the development of faster checkouts and location-based personalized marketing offers, the adoption of mobile payments continues to grow. But there is also a perfect storm brewing of a multitude of factors they will further drive adoption in the coming years.  

As banks continue to invest in innovation and offer more advanced mobile making capabilities like pay-on-demand (ie Zelle with Chase), consumers’ trust in banks will drive more in-store usage of mobile payments. And, with the proliferation of on-demand services like Lyft, Glamsquad and order-ahead apps like those offered by Starbucks and Bobby’s Burger Palace, consumers are also getting more accustomed to frictionless, and efficient mobile payment capabilities. Biometric sign in’s are helping answer security hesitations.

Contactless payments are also evolving with the development of NFC enabled smartphones and the digitization of bank cards. So consumers paying using their smartphone (via Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay etc), are finding confidence with the additional authentication via fingerprint or other biometric verification methods, lowering the risk of fraud.

Studies show that mobile payment users, on average, spend approximately twice as much through all digital channels than those not using mobile payments, according to a recent report from Bain & Co – making it a worthwhile investment for retailers and brands to integrate into their in-store offerings.

Physical and digital convergence is just truly beginning. Technology will drive customer behaviors and expectations, leading to the continued progress of connected store experiences.

Author Bio

Melissa Gonzalez is the CEO and Founder of The Lionesque Group, a company that helps brands reimagine brick-and-mortar. The Lionesque Group is made up of experiential retail strategists and pop-up architects™ who have produced over 150 brick & mortar experiences in major cities across the United States.