Innovative Retail Technologies

JAN-FEB 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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While not quite a pop-up, TurnStyle in New York City's Columbus Circle subway sta- tion offers a carefully curated collection of small-footprint upscale shops and gourmet eateries, offering fare that appeals to demo- graphics as varied as tourists, school kids, and commuters. Digital columns throughout the space promote content from partners, including the nearby Jazz at Lincoln Center. By bringing retail into an untraditional and unexpected space, TurnStyle offers an expe- rience that can engage and delight consum- ers going about their everyday lives. Taking Online Returns From Painful To Pleasant Companies like Newgistics and Happy Returns are trying to evolve the experience of returning e-commerce purchases. Rather than forcing shoppers into the "arts and crafts of returns" — finding a box and pack- aging tape and sometimes printing a ship- ping label when many American house- holds no longer have a printer — these companies see the potential to convert the returns process from a headache into an opportunity for brand building and more. A mall-based returns bar or kiosk would not only provide convenience for consumers who want to skip a trip to the post office but also drive traffic to additional stores throughout the shopping center. Using Tech In Innovative, Interactive Ways In an effort to revitalize the shopping center experience, mall property developer Simon Property Group worked with elevate DIGI- TAL to create a network of digital concierg- es throughout dozens of its properties. The interactive displays encourage shoppers to download the mall app to receive news alerts and updates and to RSVP to special events. Some retailers are leveraging technology to enable new ways of delivering product to consumers. Despite its financial woes, American Apparel continues to be a leader with innovative, integrated technology. In early 2016, the made-in-America basics company announced an industry-first part- nership with on-demand delivery firm Post- mates, enabling shoppers to receive any of more than 50 select men's and women's styles within a one-hour window. To make this possible, the retailer gives Postmates RFID-enabled real-time inventory counts with the most current merchandise hold- ings, reducing the possibility of selling a product that's not actually in stock. Select locations involved in the trial are equipped with an Android tablet that displays the Postmates Order app, enabling associates to pick and package the order while the delivery driver is en route to the store. This tech implementation caters to the Millenni- al customer's demand for a digitally driven, convenience commerce experience that virtually eliminates waiting the customary two days for shipping. A New Kind Of Vending Machine Tech vendors like SocialVend focus on blending social interaction with a fun physical experience. Its vendmini vending machines can be customized by brand and reward consumers with a physical gift for their social interactions with the brand. The vendmini owner monitors the web for usages of its hashtag, matches a post to the user's location at the vending machine, and then spits out a reward — from cosmetics to gift cards and more — for the consumer. This kind of technology incentivizes social interaction, increases brand awareness among the user's social network, and deep- ens the user's relationship with the brand via a memorable experience. The Connected Store, Powered By The Cloud Timberland debuted a connected store experience with the introduction of CloudTags. Bypassing app downloads or user sign in, the tech deployment equips in-store products with tags that shoppers can access using one of the tablets located throughout the store. With just a tap on a CloudTagged product or on online-only exclusives displayed on a giant screen, customers can pull up rich product information, save items of interest to a favorites list, and email themselves (or others) those saved lists, extending engagement beyond the store visit. In addition to providing a helpful shopping experience using technology already familiar to most shoppers, the re- tailer gains critical, behind-the-scenes in- sights, such as dwell time, top performing products, and attribution and conversion data, further fueling customer experience improvements in the store. As consumers increasingly expect more from the store, forward-thinking retailers are focused on delivering top- notch, tech-driven experiences within their four walls, and even bringing retail to unexpected places. With technology as their secret weapon, winning retailers are relentlessly iterating and innovating to bring together new, industry-leading experiences and concepts in the modern store environment. 29 Jan-Feb 2017

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