As technology continues to disrupt, change, and influence the climate of consumer demands, brick-and-mortar retailers are having to innovate twice as fast in order to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for online services. Retailers around the world have found ways to keep up with the pace, incorporate new technologies, and overall innovate in fascinating ways within the physical retail space. Here are a few ways that retailers are innovating the retail space around the world, with a focus in particular on Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
First, we’ll begin our journey in the tech-savvy countries of the Asian continent which is often-times on the forefront of keeping up with trends and innovating new technologies into the retail space.
One of the biggest emerging retail trends in the world is the gathering and utilization of consumer data to make retail environments more profitable for the company while making them more satisfactory for customers. Numerous Asia-based companies have been at the forefront of data-collecting technologies, and Asian retailers have been quick to employ it in order to better understand consumer behavior and meet consumer demands within the retail space.
Singapore-based companies Trakomatic, Trax, and Accufind provide retailers with insights into the way customers behave in-store through video and sensor technology, GPS positioning, and location and segment analytics. This innovative technology allows retailers to pinpoint customer’s location data in order to better understand how store layouts, campaigns, and in-store locations influence and change how the consumer moves through the store. Accufind takes this technology one step further, using GPS positioning to allow customers to interact with brands on their phones in the store while they browse the physical environment.
Ksubaka also allows customers to digitally engage with brands in the store. Instead of interacting with brands on the consumers’ mobile devices, Ksubaka utilizes mobile devices set up at various stations within the store itself where customers can play with game-like advertisements throughout their in-store browsing experience. They boast 10 million shoppers engaging with Ksubaka products in Chinese stores every month.
Trax uses image recognition to empower retailers and brands to manage their shelves in real-time as well as view competitor shelf branding tactics and pricing. This product revolutionizes expensive in-store audits. Sales reps take photos of shelves in stores and an automated process recognizes the products on the shelf and gives close to real-time data both to the rep and to the greater team.
Asian retailers have also discovered that with the use of virtual reality, stores can really can be anywhere. Chinese company, Yihaodian, for example, creates VR store environments that can be accessed in certain locations. When the customer points their smartphone at the location, they can view a virtual store where items hang or sit on shelves, just like a physical store. Although it is technically online shopping, it’s an innovative way to have an in-store experience while shopping online.
Another use of retail technology is by providing customization, like with the technology-driven makeup company, MATCHCo. MATCHCo developed an app that can scan the skin tone of customers to create a perfect match for foundation, a practical utilization of technology for customizing the shopper retail experience. Although MATCHCo is located in California, it was Japanese company, Shiseido, who ultimately saw its retail potential.
Next, we’ll move to our neighbors down south in Latin America who have used creativity
Brazilian retailer MeMove uses RFID to track their merchandise from manufacturer to store, so they always know what’s in stock or when something will soon be available in stores. Utilizing this technology, product inventory information is quickly and reliably available to both customers and employees.
Another Brazilian retailer, C&A, embedded small screens in clothing hangers that show the number of Facebook likes that item is receiving online. The hope was that online approval would encourage in-store approval, turning browsers into buyers and engage the shoppers into social as well.
Latin American countries have also mastered attention-grabbing gimmicks in the retail space. For instance, Scotch Super Glue 3M launched ReStore in Guatemala to help increase sales of their superglue product. Restore sells broken items like plates or vases at no additional cost with one pack of superglue to demonstrate the strength of their product.
Brazil also has a few gimmicks up its sleeves. In 2016, Tramontina, a home and garden retailer, launched its campaign, Test Drive for Good. During the campaign, they invited potential customers to test drive their Trotter lawn mower in poorly maintained city parks of São Palo, effectively turning the city into their very own retail space, boosting sales by offering test drives, while improving the public spaces of São Paulo, and no doubt bringing additional attention to their brand.
Finally, we’ll end our journey with the European consumers who have become increasingly concerned with environmental issues, among other things. Retailers, in response, are innovating with these issues in mind.
In Denmark, grocery store SuperBrugsen uses crowdsourcing to discover which local foods customers would like to see stocked in the store. Customers can suggest items online and managers then get to to taste-test for quality. This is also an ingenious way to ensure that the items they’re stocking in the store will sell, while futher engaging their customers into the strategy of the store.
Another shop in Turin, Italy called Negozio Leggero, developed the environmentally-friendly idea of “on tap” shopping. The concept is that food, household items, and personal items are sold in the store without packaging, in order to reduce waste. Instead of individual packaging, the store displays and keeps its items in reusable containers. Customers can pick an item from the containers and bring it home without unnecessary waste.
It’s clear that wherever there are consumers, there is going to be innovation within the retail space to keep up with changing demands. We will continue to see technology and other tactics employed for retail spaces around the world, with innovative businesses at the forefront of the consumer experience.
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