retail

Touring the Target and Sears Smart Home Concept Stores

Both Target and Sears have smart home concept stores full of consumer #IoT devices.  Check out these video tours of their retail experiences for a glimpse at what the #ConnectedHome can do for you.

Target: Video taken on Friday, September 4, 2015

Learn more about solutions available at the Target concept store at OpenHouse.Target.com.

 

Sears: Video taken Friday, August 28, 2015

Learn more about solutions available at the Sears concept store at Sears Connected Solutions.

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FootLogger: Wearable Shoe Insoles That Sync & Charge Wirelessly

Check out my latest #WearableTech piece published on WearableWorldNews by clicking here

 

Audience raises hands indicating wearable ownership/use at #KOTRA2014 Connected Self Panel September 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, CA

Audience raises hands indicating wearable ownership/use at #KOTRA2014 Connected Self Panel September 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, CA

 

WorkTechWork Founder Josh Bradshaw with 3L Labs CEO Jinwook Lee in Santa Clara, CA September 25, 2014

WorkTechWork Founder Josh Bradshaw with 3L Labs CEO Jinwook Lee in Santa Clara, CA September 25, 2014

 

 

Shop Lifting at Apple Stores? I Tried it Out

People are shoplifting at Apple Stores with EasyPay and I tried it out.  I’ve actually wanted to do it for a long time.  Shoplift?  Nope – use EasyPay in the Apple Store app to scan the barcode on a product and pay with my phone only to then leave the Apple Store without interacting with a store employee.

IMG_4813

I did it yesterday, it worked perfectly and no, I’m not writing from prison.  Apparently, though, faking it works until you get caught which is why former NBA player Rex Chapmen was arrested last week with charges of shoplifting more than $14,000 of merchandise in visits to the Apple Store where he apparently faked purchasing with EasyPay.  This is one instance where fake it until you make it just didn’t work out as planned.

Having heard about Chapman before my store visit, I wondered if there is some sort of security in place, particularly for large ticket items.  I went for the $199 Phillips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack.  The experience is actually easy.  Scan the code, enter the Apple ID password, confirm the credit card security code and the receipt was displayed on screen.

AppleEasyPayAppReceipt

My thoughts were that at $200 price point, once it is scanned by the app, a store employee might be notified to come and assist as not everything can be purchased with EasyPay.  I wouldn’t find a friendly greeting creepy in the least.  Why?

Apple knows I am in store when I arrive.  They even warmly welcomed me to the store with their app. How did they know? Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) beacons.  Using multiple beacons in store and triangulation, we’re talking about high school math and not rocket science, Apple knows exactly where I am in the store while I’m there.  It would possible for a store employee to get an alert, walk over and say something like, “Thanks Mr. Bradshaw for purchasing Phillips Hue with EasyPay; would you like a bag?”

It didn’t happen and in reality it doesn’t need to happen.  This sort of technology should actually make it easier to get in and out of store and also reduce labor costs for Apple, among other benefits of BTLE.  Of course there are costs of adoption and there will undoubtedly be things put in place to work the kinks out that Chapman attempted to capitalize on.  I would’t be surprised, though, if BTLE is something that made it easier to find when Chapman had been in store so the right segments of security tape could be reviewed to find what he had taken.

Along with improvements to prevent theft, I’d like to see Apple’s cart be a bit more contextually aware.  Notice there is one item still in my cart after purchase.  I had placed the Hue kit in the cart before going to the store and then had to manually delete it.  Maybe the welcome message in the app when I walk in the store could be, “Welcome to Apple Store!  The X in your cart is strait ahead to your left.”

BTLE Enabled Proximity Technology Working for the CMO

I love sitting down with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and hearing what they are up to.  The conversations usually goes well beyond what is on their website because they’re either in ‘stealth mode’ or too busy changing the world to worry about keeping a website 100% up to date.  Their determination to change the word with technology doing new and amazing things for you is absolutely exciting.  Carlo Capello, CEO of ProxToMe is no exception.

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I met Carlo at Silicon Valley’s 2014 Italian Innovation Day and have had the opportunity to chat with him about a wide range of topics as well as to see him pitch (his was one of the 55 Plug and Play pitches I write about here).  Carlo has positioned ProxToMe as a Proximity-as-a-Service solution for proximity based interaction.  What that means to B2C and even B2B CMOs is that using ProxToMe’s patented technology, businesses with mobile apps can first recognize and then share content with customers based on proximity to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLTE) beacons.

Carlo and his team began working with BTLE before Apple’s iBeacon move.  Now that essentially every iPhone is a beacon, ProxToMe’s solution and expertise in this domain mean amazing things for their customers.  “We do for offline businesses what Amazon does online. We let our clients learn more about their customers shopping habits and provide a new direct channel to influence what they buy,” Carlo says.

ProxToMe provides brands and retailers a full hardware and software solution comprised of Bluetooth tags and a mobile SDK (software development kit for my marketing friends).  This way the brand maintains control of the in-app experience and can leverage all of the insight they may have with respect to a particular customer at the point in time they approach a beacon.

Ben Davis from Econsultancy makes the point, “Retail apps still have their place in a mobile optimized world, but they’re increasingly characterized as devices for customer retention.”  ProxToMe helps avoid that characterization by generating customer involvement based on location, a form of context.

With contextually intelligent systems such as those offered by ContextM,  the ProxToMe solution becomes even more powerful because it brings the ability to not only send messages to customers in the store but to send the right message in store, a message that will increase wallet share and improve customer retention and engagement.

Technology Offering Brands Effortless Mobile Shopping

Brands provide luxurious retail experiences, experiences unique to the brand, experience that are the brand. While brands have managed to own the in store experience, the brand experience is not replicated online. Each website only gives you more of the same inconvenient browsing and shopping carts. The virtual browsing and carts do not mirror the in-store brand experience.

Granted, some online brand experiences are better than others. Burberry successfully created one of the best online brand experiences out there today. They have great pictures and a sleek website. Their models actually are wearing the clothing as opposed to it being photo-shopped on. The Burberry site learns what you are interested in and after a short data collection period it is obvious their system harnesses the power of analytics turning data into insight in the form of relevant product suggestions. Moreover, the Burberry ADD TO BAG button uses the word bag and not the word cart, making it obvious the brand manager focuses on the experience.

Burberry's Add to Bag

BUT it is still the same click to add to a virtual shopping cart mentality. You do not get the same experience as in the store, where hands are involved as a product is touched, examined and then purchased. It does not matter the type of store; online shopping is not the same as in-store shopping.

Grability co-founder and CEO Sebastian Mejia and his team took this issue to heart when creating their solution. He explained that the Grability product is “an online customer experience so simple that no one is excluded from using it. It takes the real life shopping experience and brings it to your mobile device. Grability, based in New York, is the new paradigm of how shopping should be: immediate, gratifying, fun, universal and simple.”

Grability is working with large retailers all over the world, including Europe’s largest department store El Corte Ingles.  Have a peek at Grability’s solution for grocery retail:

Grability Video

(Click to play video demo)

No online shopper will want anything but the ease and simplicity of shopping with their fingertips ever again. The Grability retail experience pales all existing solutions by magnitudes and is the perfect example of technology working for you to make life simpler. Retailers who fail to provide experiences like Grability’s patented technology will be left behind.

Marketers who see this solution know it is the perfect setup for A/B testing. But something is more important: Virtual shelf space will become more valuable than the most expensive physical shelf space in any retail store. The world of brand management in every retail space just changed.

It changed most for online retailers offering products from multiple brands because online shoppers can now shop in virtual aisles much the way they browse physical store aisles. “Forget about banners,” Mejia said. “This is the most valuable form of mobile advertisement; non obtrusive, targeted and closest to the purchase intent.”

With high quality data, Grability enables further segmentation and new niches can be found. The real power of the Grability solution is that brands can now pay for placement within the online shopping environment exactly the same way they pay for placement in store. With insight from Grability into every individual placement, the value of those placements just went way up.

For decades retailers have only been able to analyze a basket of goods after that basket is filled. Now they have the ability to see exactly how people shop. With the insight gained, they can provide a virtual store designed for the individual that is so personal there is no reason to shop in any other way or in any other place. In the coming decade customers will be disinterested when they are not presented with what they want and completely turned off when the experience is not easy, simple and beautiful.

“Grability is not stopping with food,” Mejia told me. “Grability will spread to every product, especially the products of luxury retailers who wish to optimize the best mobile experience and enable brands to leverage their brand equity in the online world.” His team is able to produce some very convincing sample solutions with high end brands such as Clinique, Dior, Jimmy Choo, and Valentino as well as samples for retailers like Walgreens and Rite Aid.  In every case, the gentle swipe of a finger guides the product to your cart, bag or scale.

Dior

Absolut

RiteAid Cold & Flu

RIteAid Cereal

Whole Foods Produce

These interfaces represent effortless mobile shopping that mirrors the real experience in such an innovative way it is actually a better experience than shopping in the store. Shopping is no longer about the retailer getting a consumer into their experience; retailers must now bring their experience to the consumer wherever they are in the world with whatever device they are using. In online markets, brand promiscuity is only a click away. When your branded experience is in the pockets of everyone in the world and it feels as natural as the Grability solution, the chances of brand abandonment go down.

Grability’s superb report card includes reducing cart abandonment by 70% over other solutions offered by the same retailer. They rightfully earned a place among the winners of the Intel Challenge and were selected as one of the top 25 finalists to compete in the global challenge in Silicon Valley last fall.

Grability boasts a 600% increase in mobile sales and 300% increase in total online sales over a four month period for Colombian retailer La Rebaja. Is some of this cannibalization? Probably but a big chunk of it is coming from competitors and it is better to cannibalize on your in store shopping, where margins are thinner, inventory costs are higher and operations eat at your profitability, than to see yourself eliminated by innovative competition. Does anyone remember a book store called Borders

I mentioned Grability to a friend on Facebook:

GrabilityFBChat

Instacart beware: this is one of your customers and Grability has you beat with just a video clip! I’ve looked at Instacart as well as Netgrocer, Peapod, Safeway Online Grocery Delivery, Walmart To Go, Meijer and Costco among other online shopping solutions. Every one of them could benefit from working with Grability.  “Our goal is to continue making customers happy by providing the best shopping experience and make Grability the standard way of buying products in mobile” said Mejia

It comes as no surprise that Grability has been profitable since delivering their first product. They’ve also built their product with no outside investment, no seed, no A round (at least not yet and Mejia declined to comment). Investors and brand managers can only imagine what some well managed capital will do inside this company that puts technology to work for you.

Improving the Online Fashion Retail Experience

Technology is changing the retail world improving the online fashion retail experience. This is due in large part to personalization, the main topic of tomorrow’s @VLABretail event at Stanford GSB. Here is a sneak peek at the companies that will showcase their technology-enabled products and services prior to tomorrow’s @VLAB event. For a peak at what the event is all about, have a read here or visit the VLAB event site.

Shoefitr.com

Think it’s a pain to order shoes online? Shoefitr is out to reduce the pain by offering 3-D modeling of shoes. This gives customers the option to see in detail exactly how a shoe is expected to fit based on other shoes in their wardrobe. Instead of ordering three pairs of the same shoe in different sizes with the intention of returning two, you can confidently order one pair and skip the returns.

Dapperapp.com

Men typically hate shopping. All of us, regardless of gender, are doing more browsing on phones. The problem, though, is that shopping on retailer’s sites is not easy on a mobile device and spending is not occurring from the mobile phone as much as it could. Dapperapp.com is designed to make the shopping experience for men easy from their mobile phones. Swipe left to dislike, right to like and down to purchase. From viewing products to checkout, Dapper provides simple shopping for the savvy man.

Vastrm.com

Ever have trouble finding the perfect polo shirt? Vastrm is an online retailer providing tailored made to measure polo shirts for men. Vastrm is less about whether you are a medium or large and more about what fit within medium or large is best for you. Taking a page out of the Warby Parker book, you can have three polo shirts shipped for free to help you discover your fit.

PersonalShopping.com

For women looking for easy online shopping that is also personal, check out PersonalShopping.com during the event. Their message: “The best in women’s fashion, picked by our style experts just for you.” A simple 3 minute quiz starts you on your way to shopping through items that are right for your style and fit so that you can purchase items from your favorite retailers.

3/7/2016 updated link to VLAB event website.  You can view a recording of the event too.  Also corrected the links to ShoeFitr.com and Vastrm.com.  The sites for Dapperapp.com and PersonalShopping.com are no longer functioning.  Former DapperApp.com CEO Amir Malayery is now at Industry Ventures, a Silicon Valley VC.  I’ve yet to confirm what is happening with PersonalShopping.com.

Fashion Tech Improves Personalized Style and Fit

For thousands of years custom made clothing filled all wardrobes. Mass production, enabled by the industrial revolution, created larger wardrobes with many more clothing options and a conundrum: there is no easy way to find affordable clothing that matches personal fit and style without the common pain points of retail shopping. But wait; this is the 21st century so can technology solve this problem and bring customization to the masses? A look at the upcoming VLAB event, Click to Fit: How Startups are Personalizing Fashion, and one might suppose the answer is yes.

Let’s hope so because I hate shopping for pants. You know the ritual, grab a few pairs of the same pant in different sizes, head to the dressing room and try them on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The perfect pair is never there; perfect fitting slacks come after tailoring, either in the length, the seat or the waist.  Where are the perfect fitting jeans? On the same aisle as unicorns and pots of gold. As an added bonus, jeans aren’t tailor-friendly to get the fit just right.

Levi’s introduced Levi’s Curve ID fit system because “All asses were not created equal.”  Levi’s Curve ID seems to work for women, making it easier for them to find great fitting jeans as this CBS story reports:  Levis Making Customized Jeans for Reasonable Price

While Levi’s Curve ID appears to work for women, men only have a fit guide that displays pictures of the fourteen different fits. Now, not only do you need to know your waist and length, but your desired fit as well. As homework for this post and with fit guide in hand, I tried four fits 511, 513, 514, and 569 during a visit to the mall last week. It took 10 attempts to find the right pair:

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Could this be easier? Levi’s introduced Lot No. 1, custom made jeans. After a visit to San Francisco and a price tag starting at $750 a pair, custom jeans can be yours.  This solves the problem of personalized fit, but can this level of personalization be done at scale and will customers pay for it?

Made-to-measure men’s shirt company Trumaker found a way to provide great fitting dress shirts that are #BuiltToFit by using outfitters who provide a local fitting and they do it without breaking the bank. Your personal measurements are used again and again to build a closet full of favorite shirts through online re-ordering; bid farewell to the hassle of apparel stores and their concomitant fitting rooms.

For women, Stitch Fix battles the fitting room saga by shipping hand-picked items to you based on your personal style profile. Keep what you like and send the rest back. Your decisions create further insight into your personal style and more unique and interesting pieces come in your next Fix™.

Technology is the enabler for both Trumaker and Stitch Fix who will participate at the VLAB panel April 15, 2014. Without the internet, shipping tracking, inventory management systems and the ability to harness the power of analytics to turn data into insight, these innovative companies and companies like Warby ParkerOutfittery, J. Hilburn, and Zafu would not be able to provide value to their customers by putting technology to work for you.