The evolution of “The Internet of Things” and it’s role in shaping retail
Twenty years after British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton coined the phrase, “The Internet of Things” (IoT), a business revolutions is taking place.
The mid-90s may have seen a boom in e-commerce that has carried through to today, but now businesses are unlocking new revenue streams, improving efficiency, and creating customer loyalty with IoT technology.
IoT is helping traditional brick-and-mortar stores compete in today’s online shopping world by providing customers with better experiences and limiting unnecessary expenses.
A1 Retail recently explored the impact IoT is making and highlighted Perch’s role in providing engaging user experiences to customers and behavioral analytics for businesses.
You can learn more about IoT and Perch’s role in the revolution in this issue of the A1 Retail Magazine: https://flickread.com/edition/html/5d84d12b753c9#66
How to thrive in brick and mortar retail using an inventory free strategy
Customers who visit inventory-free showrooms spend up to 60% more on average, shop more often, and buy more expensive items according to research from Idea Farm Ventures, The Wharton School, and Harvard Business School.
Those same customers are also less likely to return items, particularly more expensive items. In the words of the research team, shopping at a zero-inventory store “supercharges” customers.
This format provides a better experience for customers and also allows brands to learn more from customer feedback and interaction. Nordstrom, among other brands, is expanding its inventory-free concept in hopes of reaping similar rewards. It has recently opened up two new inventory-free locations in New York.
The aforementioned research group argues that inventory-free stores might be a better option for smaller brands that focus on e-commerce, largely because they are cheaper to run.
There is some risk of losing sales when customers arrive at a store knowing they will not have the opportunity to leave the store with the products they want to purchase, but the inventory-free concept is continuing to grow and evolve.
McKinsey & Co. debuts brick-and-mortar store and learning lab
McKinsey & Company has opened its first brick-and-mortar retail store in the Mall of America just outside of Minneapolis.
The store, called Modern Retail Collective, will include products and displays from Elevé Cosmetics, Kendra Scott, ThirdLove and type:A Deodorant. Modern Retail Collective will serve as both a retail store and a learning lab that will provide brands with the opportunity to test new technology.
The store currently features some impressive IoT technology like interactive mobile hotspots which will provide single-tap access to product details, as well as smart mirrors with extended product catalogs, and data collection technology.
One interesting example is the “Color Bar” in the Kendra Scott area of the store where shoppers can pick up RIFD-activated stones to form a personalized bracelet and virtually see what it would look like on a screen.
“On that screen, the shopper can design the bracelet on their own versus waiting behind people in line,” Tiffany Burns from McKinley said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You can design it yourself with unlimited combinations and metal types, colors and texture, and then have it shipped to you. It was a feature Kendra Scott already has in its stores but we basically took it and created the next generation of it.”
Modern Retail Collective hopes to provide its clients with opportunities to test out IoT technology like this that they can later scale up in their own stores.
Sounding Smart by The Retail Water Cooler
Gap’s Banana Republic and Athleta brands are launching buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) services. According to a company blog post, customers can pick up items within five days of purchase. They will receive order updates by email or text. The company also reported that it received add-on sales when customers picked up their orders.
Adidas, H&M, Levi's, Michael Kors, Warby Parker, and other brands are testing an Instagram Stories feature that lets customers set reminders for when products become available. Users will receive alerts 15 minutes before the product is released, allowing them to make purchases before the product sells out.
While most Gen Zers are not the primary purchasers of CPG products within their households, delivering ads to them still sways sales according to research from Snap and NCSolutions. The study analyzed 19 ad campaigns from 32 CPG brands in Q4 of 2018. Sixty-three percent of sales to the test group were linked to Snapchat ads seen only by Gen Z users.
Sports venues are now testing out checkout-free stores. Zippin will power a checkout-free retail store opening inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California and Standard Cognition is testing a similar model at Polar Park, in Worcester, MA - home of the Worcester Red Sox (Boston’s AAA affiliate).
Bed Bath & Beyond is adding experiences to their wedding registry categories. New and current registrants can now add these experiences to their lists through the retailer. Bed Bath & Beyond is partnering with VEBO, a wedding registry experience platform to provide experiences based on categories like “travelers” or “foodies” and include things like wine tastings and spa trips.
More and more religious organizations are moving into malls. With prices for mall storefronts down, churches and other places of religious worship are starting to take advantage of this “Buyer’s Market.” Retail Dive recently wrote an interesting story exploring this new trend which you can read by clicking here.
Mattel launched a customizable, gender-inclusive doll line called Creatable World according to a company press release. The line allows children to create their own characters with different hair lengths that include the ability to wear a skirt, pants, or both.
Mastercard has partnered with Levi Strauss & Co., Marks & Spencer, VF Corporation and the Business for Social Responsibility to pay garment factory workers digitally. Mastercard and its partners are organizing programs in Egypt and Cambodia in which participating factories can pay workers directly into their accounts.
Close to 50% of U.S. Shoppers said they would welcome secondhand apparel as a gift this holiday season. Whether it’s for the purpose of fashion or to prevent waste, customers will likely be shopping for more secondhand apparel for the holidays.
Amazon is thinking about bringing its Amazon GO cashierless store technology into airports and theatres according to this Geekwire report.
Office Depot has partnered with QLess to allow shoppers to reserve spots in line for print and copy services through the Office Depot app.