Categories
Editor's pick Retail technology

4 technologies aiding in-store navigation

Big box retailers including Walmart’s Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target are using a variety of interesting wayfinding technologies to improve customer navigation inside the physical store.

The result is designed to enable efficiency in the customer journey. This is in response to the fact that as online sales growth surpasses brick-and-mortar, customers are expecting more than just easy access to online products in physical stores, they also want to find them faster.

Cue solutions ranging from robots to augmented reality mapping. Read on for some of the strongest examples in the market to date…

Augmented Reality
Legoland Denmark augmented reality app

Home store Lowe’s was one of the first retailers to introduce an app with augmented reality indoor mapping. Instead of a 2-D image, this mobile service projects navigation signs and price specials on top of the user’s field of view – meaning they can see which direction to go in projected through their smartphones straight onto the floor or space in front of them. 

Outside of the retail space, Legoland in Denmark has recently experimented with an AR wayfinding app that helps visitors navigate around the park via a mini Lego avatar. They can also then receive real-time information on wait times ahead of them.

Voice Search
Sam’s Club Scan & Go app

Sam’s Club Now in Dallas, Walmart’s test store for technology, is also focusing on a mobile-first shopping experience. Its Scan & Go app helps customers easily access products with an integrated system using voice search for navigation. When a shopper tells the app what they need, a map directs them to the item on the shopfloor. 

Home Depot’s version meanwhile, allows users to use voice or visual search to find a specific item and then be shown exactly where it’s located within the store. Macy’s launched something similar back in 2016 with IBM Watson, which enabled users to ask question as to where specific products, departments, and brands were located, as well as what services and facilities could be found in a particular store.

Robotics
The LoweBot

From voice technology then comes robotics. Lowe’s was also one of the first to make it easier for customers to find help on the shop floor by deploying robot attendants. The “LoweBot” responds to voice commands, guiding customers through the aisles with smart laser sensors.

For Kyle Nel, executive director at Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the LoweBot resolves a common problem: “When I walk into a store and I want to know where something is I want to know right then — I don’t want to have to download an app — a robot can really help with that.”

Real-time Beacons
Target

Target is heavily investing in beacon technology for the sake of navigation also. It renewed its stores to use energy-efficient LED lighting with built-in Bluetooth beacons, which enable the store’s app to show customers their real-time location on the shop floor in a similar experience to that of Google Maps. They also help notify customers when they walk by one of Target’s “Cartwheel” deals.

Gatwick Airport has also invested in beacon technology as part of its £2.5bn transformation. Here, 2,000 indoor navigation beacons have been installed to help customers easily navigate around the terminals and reduce the amount of missed flights. Augmented reality plays a part here too, with a blue line mapped through the smartphone for users to show them which direction to go in.

The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more. 

Categories
Campaigns e-commerce Retail technology

Fred Segal launches online virtual shopping experience

Fred Segal partners with Mastercard and Refinery29
Fred Segal at Refinery29’s 29Rooms

Fred Segal has teamed up with Mastercard to introduce a virtual shopping experience that will launch exclusively from Refinery29’s 29Rooms concept in Los Angeles.

The initiative allows shoppers to explore the three-dimensional physical store as if they are there in person, through any online browser. This enables them to navigate the space as they would in real life, rather than by using search terms and category breakdowns to scroll through product pages, as well as interact with different brands and engage with digital content curated by the retailer.

“Fred Segal has always been at the forefront of experiential retail. From our inception, our curated offerings made the store a must-shop destination in Los Angeles,” said John Frierson, president of Fred Segal. “Having an online presence is of course an essential part of business, however at Fred Segal we rarely do things the traditional way. We’re thrilled to be the first major retailer to create a truly experiential online shopping destination.”

The experience is backed by Mastercard and Next Retail Concepts. It also allows frictionless, secure payments to occur through the same environment by integrating with the merchant’s existing e-commerce platform.

“At Mastercard, we’re using our products and services to create solutions for retailers that allow them to meet the ever-growing expectations for a frictionless, customized experience, across any channel or connected device,” said Sherri Haymond, executive vice president of digital partnerships at Mastercard.

The companies have curated an exclusive collection of holiday gifts shoppable only online. The experience at 29Rooms will otherwise come to life in Los Angeles from December 5-9.

Retailers have been exploring the use of 3D simulations for retail for some time. In 2015, Harvey Nichols in the UK created a virtual version of their new store, allowing anyone to take a tour of the space themselves at home. Others including Macy’s and Walmart have been experimenting with virtual reality for retail, trialling initiatives that allow for immersive experiences facilitated by VR headsets. A successful example of both experience and conversion rates remains to be seen.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.