Yet another month draws to a close, but we’re more amped up than ever in light of the 15K stores added to the Booodl network in October! And what better way to celebrate than serving up your weekly dose of gizmos and gadgets: from new app features and beacons, to robots and virtual reality.
1) Robo retail? Target’s concept store to hire robot workers
Needless to say, the use of technology for retailers is a driving force in promoting sales. In fact, retail giant Target has already seen a 30% growth in online sales last quarter. However outside of Ecommerce, the company is really taking initiative with technology, with eyes set on opening a concept store that may be run by robots. Spoiler: These robots aren’t your typical Star Wars-influenced R2-D2 kind of pal. Rather, Target is teaming up with world-renowned startup accelerators, TechStars, and following the lead of several hardware stores and retailers like Lowe’s using automated machines to find and retrieve stock. Considering the vast dimensions and endless array of products these retail giants have, we think the idea seems quite fitting!
2) SignalFire’s $53 million fund feat
Big news for Beacon! Six years on since its beginnings, data platform – Beacon – now tracks more than half a trillion data points online with it’s firm – SignalFire – also recently closing a $53 million fund and investing in eight other startup companies. If you’re in need of a recap: Beacon is an application that collects raw data from social networks, regulatory filings, financial institutions and two million other sources to produce insights that are then monitored to research where talent and capital are growing most. Lance Cottrill, a partner with HorsleyBridge Partners, says “this is software eating the venture model”. And it seems so, with Beacon now tracking more than four million companies, 8.5 million engineers and billions of anonymised U.S. consumer financial tractions. How’s that for perspective!
3) Interaction satisfaction: Using data to dictate store contexts for customers
PSFK labs provided some great insights last week into how retailers have adapted according to new and ever-changing digital interactions from their consumers. Examples such as Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store, evidence the blurring of lines between online and offline interactions: shoppers are invited to check into their PayPal accounts to alert store associates. A connected, interactive screen is available to browse and try items on, where an SMS is sent for an available fitting room that is equipped with smart mirrors so shoppers can request other sizes or items. Once satisfied, they can even make the purchase from the dressing room instantaneously, or from an iPad that an employee is equipped with. We agree with their view that the customer should ultimately be able to dictate their level of interaction with technology. A thought-provoking read.
4) Twitter’s toolbox has amped up it’s features
RetailDive gives us the breakdown on Twitter’s announcement for new features that aim to cement their role as a customer service tool. Working with Fabric and Gnip, their processes will involve syncing customer information on behalf of brands to track interactions and responses to inquiries. Additionally, the platform is using ‘single-tweet resolutions’ to allow companies’ CSRs to answer customer questions directly through the platform – a result of 30% of 21 million previously asked questions remaining unanswered. With these steps implemented Twitter hopes to resolve issues and enable more effective customer service.
5) Live like an A-lister with virtual reality from Tommy Hilfiger
New York’s got it lucky, with fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger announcing it was rolling out a program for virtual reality headsets starting in the city, soon to expand internationally. The program utilises Samsung GearVR devices to give shoppers the sensation of a celebrity status- sitting front row at a one of the fashion industry’s premier fashion shows. This will allow shoppers to watch the clothes move within their original environment and, according to Hilfiger himself, a more “natural” approach to clothes shopping compared to online environments. If implemented, this compelling and one-of-a-kind technology will be the first permanent feature seen in major retail chains. What remains now is the question as to whether virtual reality is just another gimmick retailers use to draw consumers in. One thing is for certain, they’ve certainly got our attention!