The Retail Revolution
IF YOU ATTENDED National Retail
Federation’s recent show and read the Harvard
Business Review article (December 2011) on
the future of shopping, you may agree with me
that the revolution has begun.
The HBR message was blunt and powerful:
Retail executives must get past their techno-phobia quickly or they will die. If they don’t
understand the power that new digital communications wield over their physical stores, those
stores will rapidly become a gigantic albatross,
a burdensome liability they can’t overcome.
You can find evidence of the validity of that
message, and of the need to move quickly, everywhere today. I read this morning that nearly one
of every three Americans now owns some sort
of tablet computer—just two years after the
iPad was introduced to the market!
At the same time, holiday sales of digital
cameras, GPS devices, and MP3 players fell
5. 9 percent. Why? You guessed it. Because our
smartphones now handle all those functions
for us. Just like that, three amazing technological advancements have become outdated
in little more than a decade.
And yet, as the HBR article so frankly states,
some retail executives still have their assistants print out all their emails. And some
admit they have never bought anything online!
Whether you are a retailer or someone who
provides products and services for retail environments, you can’t afford to be behind this
rapidly moving curve.
• There were numerous new mobile checkout
options, most of which are already in use at
retailers such as Brighton, C. Wonder, Guess,
Eastern Mountain Sports, American Eagle
Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s, Champs, Foot
Locker, Macy’s, RadioShack, Sephora, The
Container Store, Toys “R” Us, and others.
Managing Director, Visual,
of A.R.E., and Publisher of
• Microsoft is adapting its Xbox Kinect motion
capture system to tailor live ads directed to
shoppers as they walk past window displays
and items for sale. The system will be able to
determine shoppers’ gender, height, weight,
ethnicity, and age—and instantly produce ads
tailored and targeted directly to them.
are a retailer
services for retail
you can’t afford
to be behind
• Intel unveiled its vision for the future of retail
in partnership with adidas, Best Buy, Kraft
Foods, Macy’s, Lego, and Procter & Gamble,
as well as research from the MIT Media Lab.
Combining 3D images and touch-screen displays, Intel showed how retailers can promote brand interaction through technology
to deliver an engaging and visually stunning
shopping experience for consumers.
CUT TING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY AT NRF
Fade to January’s NRF Show (Retail’s BIG Show 2012), where
you would be hard-pressed to find an exhibitor that was not showing some type of technology. That’s not necessarily a major change
for the show, and we’ve been seeing plenty of futuristic retail technology at EuroShop for at least the past decade.
What was different this year, at least from my perspective, were
the number of exhibitors showing cutting-edge technology that
was already being tested by retail partners. That means much of
the technology was not somewhere out in the future—it’s real
and ready to use now. Some examples:
There was more…much more. But these were
definitely the highlights for me. They all helped
me envision (in the near future, I hope) a retail
store experience that seamlessly connects the
online and physical stores.
Karen Schaffner is managing director, visual, of A.R.E., and
publisher of Retail Environments. Contact her at 954-241-4810