Interactive retail devices took center stage at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2011, held Jan. 9-12 in New York City, and as Mercedes Cardona of DailyFinance.com wrote (Jan. 16), “merchants seemed to agree on one thing: Shoppers are bored.”
Researchers argue that a big reason why consumers aren’t excited by store experiences anymore is because they are so accustomed to shopping online, where they can easily access product information and reviews, and compare prices to find the best deal.
“(Shoppers) expect the Internet experience in store and the store experience on the Internet,” said Lisa Fretwell, senior director of Internet business solutions group at Cisco Systems, as quoted by Cardona.
Recreating the Online Experience In-Store
“At the NRF trade show,” Cardona writes, “there were bar-code scanning applications for smartphones, portable credit card swipe terminals to replace cash registers and touch-screens to access social media feeds in-store. Many programs are coming this year, and some pilots are already being installed at retail locations.
“Technology companies are working with retailers to install touch-screen displays and interactive screens that let shoppers access a lot of the same information they get online, such as product reviews and ratings.”
Another convenience of online shopping is checkout efficiency: no waiting in line. To again mimic the online shopping experience in-store, retailers like the Apple Store, have already equipped salespeople with portable product scanners that take credit card and debit payments.
Intel’s ‘Connected Store’ Experience at Big Hit
Also bringing the online look-and-feel to in-store experiences, Intel’s “Connected Store” proof-of-concept made a lasting impression at the NRF Big Show.
The staff at DigitalSignageToday.com described it as follows (Jan. 13): “Powered by second-generation Intel Core processors, as well as previous gen Intel Core processors and Intel Atom processors, the Connected Store featured interactive demonstrations and proof-of-concepts aimed at integrating the best of online and mobile shopping with traditional retail environments.
“Brands like Adidas, Best Buy, Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble, in addition to researchers at the MIT Media Lab, worked with Intel to create these experiences and showcase what’s possible, according to an announcement from Intel.”
For Gillette (a P&G brand), for example, Intel built a vending machine and an experimental end-cap display equipped with gender-detection software to sense if a man or a woman is approaching, wrote Mark Roberti of RFIDjournal.com (Jan. 13). “The system can also determine age groups, to some degree – that is, it can discern that a teenage girl is approaching, for instance, or a middle-aged man.
“The idea is to present information relevant to the individual approaching,” Roberti adds. “So the end-cap display contained an interactive video that would display images of Gillette shaving products for women if a female attendee were standing in front of it, or information about shaving products for men if the attendee were male.”
Meanwhile, for Adidas, Roberti wrote, Intel had large touch-screen video terminals, about eight feed high by 15 feet wide, upon which attendees could scroll through row upon row of sneaker photos, by swiping a finger, much like using an iPhone.
**XQ Interactive Retail from iQmetrix brings the process of buying a phone to life in the hands of the consumer. The traditional retail environment virtually transforms into an interactive playground allowing customers to explore like never before. Answers to their questions are literally at their fingertips.
To better equip front-end staff with inventory counts and product information, XQ Interactive Retail integrates directly with several back-end systems, such as the iQmetrix Master Product Catalogue and RQ4, to ensure that all in-store content is fresh, relevant and up-to-date.