Cutting-Edge Technologies Give Bricks & Mortar Retailers Back Their Edge


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Online pure players have successfully hijacked the customer relationship, using tracking technology to visualize shoppers’ behavior across channels, gifting them the opportunity to speak directly to consumers with personalized offers and services and by ‘knowing’ what they want. Shopping in-store has lost its edge, and traditional bricks and mortar retailers need to fight back by combining the virtual and physical worlds to generate an exciting, tailored experience that benefits the customer and the organization.

This challenge has prompted a series of innovative technological explorations from hybris that recreate the intuitive online experience in-store by generating real-time information about what individual shoppers are thinking of buying. The hybris labs team is creating use cases around potential in-store deployments for these exciting technologies, but their chief mission is to paint a picture of the customer’s world in which their journey can be analyzed and acted upon in real-time across every channel.

This connected retail space includes the ‘Funky Retail’ prototype, where strategically placed smart sensors in Funky Boxes light up when a customer approaches the vicinity of a product. Indicated by a change of color, the box can inform an assistant how long a customer has stood in front of a product. As soon as a customer lifts a product, a short promotional video clip is shown on a big screen. On a smaller scale, Tiles are moveable battery-operated sensor-platforms, connected to a hub, which can measure customer-product-interaction by counting lift-ups.

In a similar vein, the ‘Changing Room’ scenario uses RFID scanners to identify which items have been brought into the changing cabin so that sales personnel know precisely what you’ve chosen to try on. They can then react quickly to offer different sizes and styles, while a connected tablet inside the cabin also allows the customer to quickly browse alternatives.

This instant picture of what a customer likes generates spot-on real-time analytics and therefore prepares the way for future marketing. The information and choices that are readily available to shoppers in-store should help retailers convert those customers who like to browse in-store but then buy online into in-store purchasers. This reduces the showrooming in-store and creates a full omni-channel experience for the customer.

In the food and drink trade, good service directly equates with customer satisfaction. With 2015 having been tipped by technology commentators as the year in which the Internet of Things will finally begin to impact business growth and services, hybris labs have built a beer table as part of an Oktoberfest of Things initiative, on which sensors embedded in beer mats tell staff when your glass is empty and need a refill. This genius invention should guarantee eternal gratitude for drinkers in a crowded bar.

Always aware of the ‘creepy factor’ of knowing what you want before you want it, these technologies require customers to opt in. With the Smart Wine Shelf customers are able to establish their personal wine profile by answering a few questions. Once the profile is ready, it can be sent to a nearby wine shelf, which in return will highlight the wines that match the customer’s profile.

The B2B focused Augmented Commerce scenario allows a mechanic to scan equipment and inform the manufacturer as to which parts need renewing, and request approval from the assigned manager.

Retail competition is global and moves quickly. Customers have gained the upper hand over retailers in recent years. Consumers are used to having their needs and choices instantly recognized online, and expect to be treated like royalties across all platforms. Proactively offering products to customers based on their preferences should lead to less “just looking” responses of customer in-store. This creates a win-win situation in the new paradigm of customer relations.

Nick Wood
Nick Wood is a Research and Communications specialist at hybris and SAP CEC where he supports hybris Labs, the company's R&D and innovation hub that is responsible for evolving game-changing new technologies and shaping the commerce experience of the future. Having joined hybris in November 2013, Nick's multi-faceted role includes undertaking background research for new concepts, alongside generating multi-media communications and live-event demos that keep customers and partners of hybris and SAP CEC appraised of current developments.


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