3 things we learned from Tech. 2019

Earlier this month, the StorIQ team attended Tech. by Retail Week. We got to meet a group of pioneering retailers, network with other tech innovators, and of course attend some amazing talks and seminars from leading industry minds.

With over 75 hours of content over the two days there was a lot to learn – and too much to write about in one post.  So we’ve picked the top 3 things we learned from Tech. 2019.

Could facial recognition be the future of retail?

Imagine you are trying to create the ultimate VIP customer experience in a luxury fashion store.

As you walk through the doors, cameras will record your face, identify your facial features, and they will know that you are a VIP customer.

The store team will be notified to let them know that a VIP customer has entered the store. They will be able to see your size, colour preferences and recent purchases, so they can provide you with a streamlined shopping experience. Your face could grant you access to a VIP area with access to personal shoppers and dedicated staff.

Once you’re happy with your purchases, you can pay with your face – no need to bring your wallet.

If you plan to continue shopping, staff can put your purchases aside in lockers. You can return to the lockers when you have finished your shopping spree and they will automatically open with facial recognition.

In the session, “what’s stopping you adopting facial recognition in-store?” Masahiro Hisyama, Head of Innovation at Panasonic, delved into the practical applications of facial recognition in retail to enhance customer experience.

He gave some great real-world examples of industries that are using this type of technology at the moment.

In Japan, Universal Studios are using facial recognition for annual pass holders to give them the VIP experience, and it’s also helped to cut costs on the printing of plastic cards for pass holders. In Hyogo College of Medicine, the university are using facial recognition to check attendance in lectures and prevent students answering the register on another student’s behalf.

Of course, there are legal concerns with processing this type of data, and with GDPR it would be a challenge to implement in Europe, although not out of the question.

For high-end retail, the continuing development of this type of technology could be the future of customer experience. Would you be prepared for your favourite brands to be storing this much personal data?

The future is community-centric retail

Rapha is a premium UK cycling and lifestyle brand that was founded in 2004. Rapha’s emphasis lies firmly on its cycling community. They have 23 locations across the world. But what’s most important to remember is:

They don’t have stores, they have clubs.

Being part of an exclusive community is a great way to get customers returning to stores again and again and becoming true brand ambassadors. The Rapha Cycling Club was founded in 2015 to bring cyclists together, and today there are already more than 12,000 members worldwide. They have 23 Clubhouses across Europe, North America and Asia and have become hubs for RCC members and local cyclists, offering a café space and stocking the latest products.

The StorIQ office is only a few minutes’ walk from the Rapha clubhouse in Old Spitalfields market, where you can grab a coffee, scope out some new cycling gear, and watch classic races on the big screens.

And they’re not the only retailer looking at this new style of community-centric retail. Sweaty Betty, the women’s activewear store is also embracing community retail. Last week, they hosted Sweaty Betty live, a wellness event that brings together the best fashion, fitness and food under one roof, for one day. Attendance at this year’s event gave you access to talks, a 25% discount on new season product, a goodie bag with a limited edition top worth £60 and free monogramming.

Being part of an exclusive community creates customers that are brand loyal, and that will return to store again and again.

Times are hard and retailers are turning to tech to get them out of hot water

We’re all familiar with the store closures and acquisitions that have plagued retail in recent months. You would perhaps think that these tumultuous times would cause retailers to tighten their purse strings. However, that’s not the case.

Instead the industry is turning to technology to help guide it through these difficult times.

For those who have fallen on hard times, they are looking to streamline processes, and they are looking for the technology that can help them do it.

Emphasis is moving away from customer facing technology, like magic mirrors and high-tech fitting rooms – towards tech that can help retailers streamline their processes from the final mile, stock loss and retail operations.

Losing control in any of these areas can affect your bottom line, so it’s incredibly important that retailers focus on getting these “bread and butter” processes perfect. Because in today’s climate, there’s no margin for error.

At StorIQ we believe in the future of retail.  We believe great customer experiences are the result of every single detail being right in-store. We believe that when store teams are empowered and supported by technology to get the details right, the results can be spectacular.

If you’d like to find out more about how we help retailers to get the details right, then why not schedule a demo with the team. 😊