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Not ones to leave room for misinterpretation, NRF’s Annual Expo and Convention earned the nickname “Retail’s BIG show” some years ago – and yes, it’s sprawling enough to be quite difficult to summarise in the space of an article. A leading flagship event in the industry, the four-day event took place in New York just last week. For those of us who couldn’t make it, here’s our rundown of the top emerging retail trends set to disrupt the in-store/on-line shopping experience in a big way in 2015.
Intel’s interactive MemoMi MemoryMirror was an undoubted star of NRF. A digital mirror designed for changing rooms, it captures and augments the experience of trying on clothing: including 360-degree views, comparisons of what you’ve tried on so far and virtual garment changes. The omni-channel MemoryMirror is already in place at Neiman Marcus, where it has prompted increased customer loyalty and boosted sales. On the flip side, more interaction means more valuable information can be converted: turning the anonymous customer into a fully connected one. But don’t worry – we don’t think the mirror can tell whether you’re the most beautiful of all just yet.
The digital wallet
Will collaborations between big tech companies and retailers convince us to ditch our metal and plastic in 2015? Digital wallets – that is, payment methods that use any connected device such as your smartphone – are designed for two reasons: to allow consumers to shop not only more quickly, but (arguably) more securely. In-store, contactless payment terminals make transactions speedier, whilst at home it can also facilitate online shopping as it stores payment details. In a panel discussion dedicated to the subject, speakers agreed that making the transaction easier will inevitably win over customers – as those speaking were Maria Thomas (of SmartThings) and Lisa Gavales (CEO of Things Remembered), however, their vested interest in proclaiming the dawn of the digital wallet was pretty evident.
Are customers the new designers? In the age of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, allowing customers input into the process of bringing a product to the point of sale could be the key to not only engaging customers, but also shaking up a manufacturing process that hasn’t caught up with the digital generation. One of NRF’s most popular talks was given by Jane Park, CEO of award winning website Julep: a beauty brand that uses crowdsourced feedback and technological innovation to produce and launch 300 new products each year. One case in point is the brand’s Plié Wand nail polish applicator, for which 6000 customers pledged $75,000 toward developing the product – and that’s within a mere 24 hours.
Even faster delivery
The rise of click-and-collect has been one of the biggest success stories for retailers this season: take John Lewis, whose Click and Collect service overtook its home delivery and helped online sales grow 19% over the Christmas period. New delivery concepts were on the agenda at NRF, however – for example, VP of corporate strategy at Cole Haan Kyle Gallery spoke about the brand’s efforts in trying out new delivery innovations. Its partnership with Uber Rush – offering New Yorkers $10 same day delivery on online purchases in September – was immensely successful, with customers receiving their goods within the hour. Overall, NRF showed that the next step for faster delivery won’t be drones, but rather, somewhere in the middle. Wipro’s drone caught eyes at the Exhibition Hall, but its Wipro Sight System provides shelf space analysis in the warehouse space as opposed to delivering your new shoes to your front door.
Reported by: Claire Healy