The Future of Shopping: Some Retail Stores will probably look like this:

August 10, 2011

The success of Tesco’s new retail store in Korea is something to behold:

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Why? Because there is no physical store and no physical product. However the experience of the store has been fully recreated two dimensionally as a backlit poster with the products and ordering fulfilled using mobile and QR codes. It’s a neat idea and solves a number of issues:

1. The familiar supermarket experience. Tick!
2. Impulse shopping. Tick!
3. Cheap rent. Tick!
4. Open a new store in high traffic areas in one day. Tick!
5. No internal fit out costs. Tick!
6. No need to stock shelves Tick!
7. No Staff wages. Tick!
8. Open 24hrs. Tick!
The list goes on.

Personally I’d like to see NFC integration as well as QR codes. I think we can also expect to see these walls become screens rather than printed products in the very near future.

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Amnesia Razorfish Announces Gesture Sharing for Smartphones and Tablets using Microsoft Surface (Press Release)

January 25, 2011

Amnesia Razorfish today announced the launch of Amnesia Connect – a software breakthrough, which allows instant and seamless sharing and transfer of any content such as photos, music or embedded apps between multiple handheld devices using a Microsoft Surface table using a single gesture.

Launched today, Amnesia Razorfish Connect can be viewed at: http://vimeo.com/18859503 and there is more information on the software at: www.amnesiarazorfish.com.au/

Amnesia Razorfish Connect has been developed entirely in-house at Amnesia Razorfish by the creative and emerging technology teams.

Following months of research and development, Amnesia Razorfish has replaced the typical ‘send and receive’ interface with a more natural ‘gesture-based’ interface. A smartphone owner can now move their content freely between two devices by simply dragging content off their phone onto a Microsoft Surface Table and back onto another device instantly.

Amnesia Razorfish Founder and Executive Creative Director Iain McDonald said: “The previous barriers which stood in the way of getting content on or off your phone have been completely removed with this software.

“In the past device integration like this has been mainly confined to Hollywood movies or smoke and mirror demos, so we set ourselves the challenge of making it real.

“It took a while to crack, but the result speaks for itself – all the buttons are gone and sharing content is now completely instinctive. In a world where smartphones are becoming omnipresent, this kind of software opens another world of ideas for brands.”

Amnesia Connect allows gesture transfer of mobile content instantly

The smartphone user can transfer new free or commercial content from the table by dragging it directly to their phone with a single swipe – then before full transfer takes place, a preview instantly visible as a live motion tracked ‘lens preview’ through the phone display – similar to an X-ray through to the table.

For example, in less than a few seconds a photo can be taken on one device and dragged effortlessly onto the Surface table and then directly onto another device running on Amnesia Connect software.

“The new software promises a range of new possibilities for the retail and hospitality industries in particular. In the near future we envisage a Smartphone user being to complete commercial transactions for both physical and digital content,” McDonald said.

Amnesia Connect in action

The Amnesia Connect software works with all Apple IOS devices and is being further developed to work seamlessly with Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry Smartphones.

Amnesia Razorfish Connect utilises a range of technologies including Wi-Fi, proximity detection, unique ID and phone accelerometer, depending on the type of phone and location.

For in-store transactions, NFC (Near-Field-Communications) has been proposed as one of several possibilities for payment transactions, although a pre-authenticated user account with credit card details could also be used.

Amnesia Connect has also been developed to work with the new Microsoft Surface 2.0 table, that was announced at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show.

Amnesia Razorfish Managing Director Michael Buckley said that Amnesia Connect is available immediately for the agency’s clients to utilise in projects and added existing clients that had seen the application were ‘very excited’.

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PS: Ask questions in the comments below – we will do our best to answer them!

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Creating Digital Solutions for Retail Environments

February 28, 2010

(photo by Sherbet)


The recent launch of Microsoft Surface in Australia last month is a reminder that we are entering the digital era of retail shopping.

While the prospect of building immersive digital retail solutions in malls and  stores is exciting, the luster of $50,000 in quarter inch thick screens and multi-touch tables will turn dull if the installation does not increase foot traffic, lift sales and/or enhance the customer service experience.

With this is mind; this post is a first draft in an evolving guidebook for delivering effective digital retail experiences.

At a high level, there are three digital opportunities available in most retail environments.

(1) Product & brand visualization: Sales tools that show shoppers the potential of a boxed up widget, break down complex products, or open up a window to the full product inventory.

(2) Branded entertainment: Installations that draw the attention of foot traffic through an interactive solution and/or provide valuable content on behalf of the brand.

(3) Branded information services: Solutions that add value to people with a form of some kind of practical application (a way finding tool, a calculator, some tips or tricks, etc.)

All of these activities hold the prospect of being interactive, traceable, personalized, integrated, manageable, and innovative digital solutions.

For anyone of these activities to become a success, you must build upon a strategy based on the needs of the users in each scenario. That’s the philosophy the Amnesia Razorfish Emerging Experiences Team is guided by as we begin our journey into these new digital sales & marketing scenarios.

During a shopping experience there are number of players but at the heart of the situation are a) the shopper and b) the sales team. The question becomes: what can we do to amplify the sales experience for both players and not get in the way of the sales process?

One way of avoiding the latter is by understanding what services customers currently value.    The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) publishes quarterly reports that show which brands are delivering quality customer service across a variety of retail verticals (department store, specialty retail, supermarket, banking, insurance, gas stations, to name a few).

According to ACSI commentator Professor Claes Fornell analysis of Q4 2009 polls, while the harsh post GFC climate in the U.S. forced the overall rating down by 1.4%, each vertical had a strong performer from which key assumptions can be made:

Top Performers:

Nordstrom: The Seattle based department store company prides itself in informed and helpful customer service. Customers agreed and gave them a 83% on the scorecard for a satisfying experience.

Small Banks: In a vertical that saw zero overall improvement and was hit hard this year, small banks scored well because they specialize in personalized customer service.

Publix Supermarkets: Although Wal-Mart grocery chains beat Publix on price, Publix scores high in another sector (Grocery & Pharmacy) that customers are generally not thrilled with the current experience. Their secret: in-store demos and organic goods.

These top performers give us three important insights when thinking about digital retail possibilities.

(1) People are not necessarily unhappy with their current human-based shopping experience. This makes sense because humans are not robots and we generally enjoy communicating with one another; even in a sales situation. Therefore, sales personnel are staying put and the goal of what we build should be to help the sales team convert and up-sell, not to erase the sales team.

(2) Grocery & pharmacy environments are filled with so many choices that customers need additional experiences to help them make a purchase. This insight parallels a survey of 5,000 U.S. grocery shoppers in 2008 that found that 65% of shoppers thought they did not have enough information to make an informed purchase (as quoted in Burke, 2008).

(3) Personalized services are greatly appreciated by shoppers; especially during major decisions like selecting a mortgage or investing for retirement.

While these conclusions are the tip of a very complex iceberg and the specific approach will vary from case to case, the major point to be made is that it is important to balance the thrill of amazing new technologies and possibilities with a foundation of strategic thinking. The novelty of new technology should never take backseat to delivering on practical business objectives.

The next chapter in this thread will be about the spatial dimension of out of home and retail digital strategy. Stay tuned

Brett Robinson, Emerging Experiences Program Manager

Sources:

1. ACSI Quarterly Commentaries Q4 2009.

2.Behavioral Effects of Digital_Signage (2008). University of Indiana Press.