This week’s National Retail Federation show at the Javitz Center was an expo into the future of shopping. Mutichannel retailing seems to be a given in this coming world as the technological gadgets and online intelligence makes its way into the stores.
Mobile devices and marketing had their place at the exhibition hall. Verizon was demonstrating its mobile credit card devices, where customers can check out with a sales associate on the sales floor without waiting in lines. If you have ever shopped in an Apple store, then you know that every retailer in the world should offer this service. It makes check out smooth and fast. Swipe your credit card and the employee bags your purchase with the bags they carry on their belt. By the time you get home, your e-mail receipt is waiting in your inbox.
Then of course there were a number of retail management systems on display at the show. Many, like Merchant Applications Inc., were offering the centralization between back end inventory systems with front end check out and customer database models.
Both of these seem intuitive to making the check out process easier. When it comes to the real cutting edge shopping experience, Sony and Escalate Retail had some pretty innovative product offerings.
Sony’s in-store shopping product included a customer loyalty card to tracks a customer’s behavior from when they enter the store. Browse at a dress on a hanger, try on a sweater or buy some wine. All of this information is recorded and stored, so that retailers can follow up with marketing messages via e-mail or in your next shopping experience. Expect to see a screen flashing “Hello John Doe.” and an offer for 10 percent off that bottle of wine the next time you enter the store.
Escalate Retail also offered some Sci-Fi looks into the shopping experience with an inventory customer matching system. It sounds like your basic, you bought a red sweater last winter, so when new red blouses come in for spring, you get an e-mail. However, this e-mail offers the chance to visit the store for an appointment with your favorite personal shopper. At the visit the retailer can sit you down with a virtual closet, filled with the entire wardrobe that you own that was purchased at their store. Imagine, see this new red blouse will match perfectly with that floral skirt, but you may need a new pair of sandals to complete the outfit.
It’s online analytics coming to a mall near you.