Retail Analytics

Our top five favourite retail innovation developments of 2016

Written by Brett Stephenson
Oct 3

Nasa’s recent announcement that their EmDrive propulsion system is – astoundingly – a viable means of achieving warp speed, is a potent reminder of just how fast technology is evolving.

As the technology available to the layperson advances just as quickly, so too do retail innovations. 2016 has seen some impressive developments that are changing the way retailers operate and how shoppers interact with brands. Interaction is the name of the game, with virtual reality serving up immersive experiences that put consumers firmly in the driving seat. Read on for the top five retail innovations that are forging a brave new (retail) world, here:

Tally the robot takes the dread work out of tallying stock levels.

Aptly named Tally, this is one of the most exciting retail innovations we’ve seen this year. As the Internet of Things starts to permeate our everyday life, (Samsung’s smart fridge, for example), the ramifications for retailers are ripe with possibility. Built by Simbe Robotics (the name Simbe stands for Simulated Being), Tally the stock tallying robot is able to “traverse a shop's aisles for eight to 12 hours on a single charge, counting and checking up to 20,000 individual stock keeping units (SKUs) with greater than 96 percent accuracy,” PCMag reports.

Tally’s POV (Point of View) can be tracked via a hand-held tablet, which records data that’s visualised as a 3D rendering of the store shelf. In one demonstration, Tally’s eye for detail saw the robot correctly identify deliberately misshelved Cherry-flavoured Pop Tarts that were positioned next to Strawberry-flavoured pop tarts. “It (Tally) caught the error every time, even though the boxes are very similar to the human eye,” says PCMag. Retail innovations like Tally will see time and labour-intensive tasks like stock tallying and reshelving become fully automated, making them faster, more efficient, cheaper and eventually, able to eradicate inevitable human error. (View Tally in action)

Interactive digital displays take retail therapy to the next level.

It’s no secret that today’s consumers want an immersive, seamless experience, which sees retailers clamouring to add digital touch points to their brick and mortar stores in an effort to meet these needs. Belgian shoe retailer, Torfs, has installed interactive digital displays that make the browsing experience that much easier. Dubbed by TrendHunter as a ‘Connected Store’, Torfs’ digital display screens allow shoppers to browse the inventory, interact with the brand on social media, and most importantly, choose the right pair of shoes. If their size or desired colour isn’t in stock, ordering a pair is as simple as swiping a couple of tabs right then and there. What’s more, Torfs’ store boasts an interactive gaming table for kids – giving harried parents a much needed breather while they shop.

Another shoe retailer experimenting with digitally driven retail innovations is Aldo. Their store in the newly opened Westfield World Trade Center Mall offers a streamlined experience by connecting shoppers with their m-commerce offering. TrendHunter reports: “Upon entering the retail store, consumers are able to get a mobile notification that prompts them to open the Aldo app on their iPhone. From there, consumers will be able to easily scan products in order to access product images and descriptions for more information.” In addition, shoppers can add items to a wishlist and share products that they’re eyeing on social media via the Aldo app.

‘Social mix’ means it’s goodbye to muzak and hello to crowd-sourced in-store playlists.

If you’ve ever walked into a store only to be audibly assaulted by Adele bemoaning a lost love, you know just how much in-store music can influence the shopping experience. The brainchild of Mood Media, Mood Mix Pro is a retail innovation that’ll be music to the ears of shoppers and store owners alike. This mobile streaming platform enables store owners to mix and then customise a vast array of music to suit the time of day, pace of foot traffic and clientele. ‘Social Mix’, a feature of Mood Mix Pro, allows customers and staff to access the store’s playlist via their mobiles. Business Wire, quoting Mood Media’s global chief product officer and executive vice president of local sales, David Van Epps says: “Music can communicate the heart and soul of a brand, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for businesses…It’s no secret the connected generation is causing profound shifts in the ways retailers and businesses engage with customers.”

Virtual reality transforms the way shoppers browse and purchase.

The retail innovation equivalent of Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR, Japanese retailer KABUKI has rolled out a virtual reality (VR) app that’s compatible with standard VR headsets; merging VR and ecommerce to create a unique retail experience. ‘VR Shopping with Voice Chat’ “allows them [shoppers] to experience fashion shows and other virtual experiences of the products (apparel, interior, outdoor), and then purchase them through the app,” says Japan Trends. This retail innovation also incorporates a social element, enabling users to talk with friends while browsing – akin to a shopping expedition with a group of friends.

Retail analytics tools get smarter.

While this retail innovation has been around for a while, retail data analytics continues to become simpler to use and increasingly intuitive. The stakes are high (and expensive) when it comes to retail operations, which means that having accurate data that’s delivered in real time is now a prerequisite if you want to have the edge over competitors and successfully convert browsers into customers. Blix Intelligence allows you to do just that: one retail analytics platform that enables you to identify trends when and as they happen. Get insight into your marketing spend, store foot traffic, marketing channels and more. Interested? Find out more.

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