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The future of retail at #NRF14

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Guest post by Giulia Callegari, APAC Region Consultant, Ogilvy

It’s interesting to see where data has taken us today, and see how data driven commerce platforms are helping companies embrace the future. There’s an open exchange between retailers, brands and customers, sort of exchanging personal informations in order to understand who wants what from which experience. But how do they then disseminate this information over the company?

Only 1% of data is transformed from chaos to actual insights. So data driven commerce platforms is something that should and will be very big in 2014. The first step is for these platforms is to give consumers the ability of act in real time consequently to data. These data streams can then be turned into APIs allowing companies to turn more efficiently to customers, and for third parties to develop new tools and create a better customer experience based on these.

Here are some examples of new trends, from delivery, to transaction apps, to customer service:

1) Google are beginning to take Hangouts and turn it into an opportunity of interacting with designers, stylists etc. and at the same time they are allowing people to shop. The first campaign of this nature is with Diane von Fustenberg. Like a modern QVC, she came onto a chat with her fans and items would pop up on the side so people would be able to seamlessly shop for them while she spoke.

2) Omni Point of Purchase: this allows the customer to shop on the phone, on the street, or on a social channel, so anytime someone is in contact with your product you can convert that into an opportunity for them to buy.

3) Foursquare: The platform have created an aspect within the app which enables it to learn from behaviors, and the data of users based on the check-ins so it can actually anticipate and predict things that users may want to check out. You can serve customers with shops that are in the area and deals offered by a store at any given point in time.

4) Estimote Beacon: this beacon enables anyone to program the store so that when people walk through they can get information pushed to their phones relevant to that specific part of the store. This is all about micro-location technology.

What’s interesting about contextual support is encouraging a behavior inside a brick and mortar location. This has the ability of ensuring customers engage with a branded message before they go out to another application or location or brand.

5) Boston Proper have taken learnings from the online model in order to bring the same level of personalization to the physical retail space. They have tech tables which enable customers to log-in and have a more informed one-on-one conversation about what they need. The sales staff can also pull articles for a customer and create a more curated and personalized experience. There are only a few location in Florida that are currently doing this but it is a great model to latch on to.

6) Amazon’s new Kindle fire is a seamless way to connect with a human being for customer service with their “May Day” button. The button puts you in touch with a human person via video.  This feature allows technology to fade into the back and the human aspect to emerge.

7) Starting life as a mobile platform used to enable P2P transactionsVenmo Touch is now a platform created to turn any mobile and online transaction into a one touch check out application.  This means you don’t need verification or to re-enter any type of information. It’s removing friction between retailers and customers.

8) On Kate Spade Saturday the windows had an electronic display where you could buy Kate Spade products on the street. Bringing the best of online to offline, in 4 locations in NY people could shop from the windows 24/7. After choosing the item, the courier would show up anywhere in Manhattan within one hour.

9) Walgreens already has a successful loyalty program but it wanted to make it more useful for its audience. The company saw a big push for fitness in terms of mobile apps, like Nike +, Jawbone etc. so Walgreens allowed these miles to be turned into W points. You can challenge your friends while creating a more meaningful and engaging connection which fits really well what the brand is trying to do. Rethinking loyalty and what a loyalty program is is crucial. Taking the idea of loyalty outside of the transactional context is really important.

Overall, there are 8 key takeaways from these examples:

  1. Find time to set the pace (efficiency, quickly through the unpleasant side of the transaction and slower through fun times)
  2. Be accommodating at every step
  3. Use customer data to create digital services
  4. Create a channel agnostic experience
  5. Deliver frictionless transactions
  6. Use technology to deliver the human side
  7. Build a system of love
  8. Access data anywhere