Jane Jetson would feel right at home in many of today’s retail stores. From shoppable window displays to interactive fitting rooms to personalized discounts, retailers around the globe are integrating cutting-edge technology to create engaging experiences that blur the line between in-store and online shopping.
Check out our roundup of nine retail innovations that will have consumers dreaming about jetpacks and flying cars.
- Magic Mirrors
Snow White’s magic mirror meets the digital age. Interactive mirrors are fusing digital connectedness with the physical world and delighting consumers in the process. Rebecca Minkoff stores in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles feature interactive mirrors that allow consumers to adjust lighting, browse virtual racks, request a different size, and send items directly to checkout. And the memory mirrors at select Neiman Marcus stores give shoppers a unique perspective in the fitting room as well. The mirror records an eight second video of each outfit as shoppers give their potential looks a twirl. Shoppers can virtually try on an item in different colors, share with friends and compare multiple videos side by side to make final purchasing decisions.
- Laser Beams
Nothing says high tech like light beams shooting out of a machine. Laser printing technology, which has mostly been reserved for innovation labs and production facilities, is finding an additional home in retail stores. The new “One Below” area for young shoppers within Macy’s iconic Herald Square store features a custom laser bar where consumers can purchase Levi’s® jeans or trucker jackets and have them customized with select designs.
- Virtual Reality
Stores are adding “retailtainment” (retail entertainment) options for shoppers, including virtual reality experiences. Toms, for example, lets consumers get fully immersed in its one-for-one mission by allowing them to experience a giving trip to Peru via virtual reality headset. And a North Face store in Manhattan offers shoppers a chance to explore remote hiking, climbing and base-jumping locale without ever having to leave the store.
- Connected Pants
The Intel and the Levi’s® team have been collaborating to develop a proof of concept using RFID tags to deliver near real-time inventory monitoring in Levi’s® stores. That means when a consumer comes into the store looking for a perfectly fitting pair of jeans in a specific size and color, it’s on the shelf — no need for sales store associates to check in the back to find a specific item.
- Interactive and Shoppable Window Displays
Next-generation window displays give a whole new meaning to the phrase “window shopping.” Retailers are giving consumers the opportunity to interact with screens built into storefronts, and in some cases offering shoppable capabilities as well. Last fall, London-based department store Harrods created a large, shoppable interactive window display. People passing by could use a mobile phone to scan or tap the display, and they would be linked to a mobile site to view products and purchase instantly.
- AI Assistance
Make way for the future, as personal shoppers becomes decidedly more robotic. Technology companies are planning to integrate artificial intelligence into the shopping experience to provide all the expertise and personalized advice of a seasoned stylist, weatherman, trend forecaster, and more. Going to a music festival? AI technology could offer guidance based on weather forecasts, travel conditions, trending styles and more to help assemble the perfect ensemble.
- Mobile Payments
Riding the growing wave of mobile payment systems like Apple Pay, retailers are getting on board with mobile payments that forego the cash registers for quick checkout on your phone. Shoppers will be able to scan items as they go through the store and purchase them via app, without lines or wasted time. This begs an important question: will future generations even understand the origins of the phrase cha-ching!?
- Smart Discounts
It might be time to finally retire those coupon-clipping scissors. Major retailers like Kohl’s are linking up with shoppers’ phones to provide personalized, location-based recommendations and deals. A ‘store mode’ on the mobile app gives shoppers a personalized experience that allows them to find in-store promotions and search store inventory as they walk through the store.
- Crowd-sourced Encouragement
Stores are also taking note of people’s love of user ratings and popularity, and the age-old desire for reassurance on making a purchase that friends are sure to <3. In Brazil, clothes hangers have a digital display linked to Facebook that shows the number of likes each item of clothing has received from the online community.
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