The rapid evolution of retail, from digital signage to virtual shopping, wouldn’t be possible without collaboration, optimism, and futuristic Internet of Things (IoT) envisioning. In this guest blog post, INOX Communication Founder and CEO Lats Kladny, reveals how envisioning the future of the retail environment led to innovative Intel IoT retail solutions that increased sales while improving the customer experience. INOX Communication offers a superb example of the power of innovation made possible when Intel IoT lands in the hands of visionary ecosystem partners. ~David McKinney
Over the past few years, technology has dramatically reshaped customers’ shopping experiences. But today’s technology advances are just the beginning. What will tomorrow’s shopping experience look like?
This was the question INOX Communication was looking to answer with the Retail of Tomorrow project, which we cofounded and managed for Swiss fashion retailer Heidi.com. The project combined an array of skills and expertise—from architects to technology providers—to put together technologies to transform the shopping experience. At the heart of the project are Intel technology-powered screens and digital signage that create an immersive, interactive experience for consumers.
Using interactive social media channels, Heidi.com has already developed a strong brand that engages with customers. When they came to us, they wanted to extend this relationship with customers into a physical shopping environment that would combine great design with practicality and flexibility to support customers’ needs into the future.
We knew that providing content on large screens would be a good way to engage customers. But screens alone weren’t enough. We needed to blend the best of virtual and physical retail—letting shoppers touch and try on garments, and also browse the entire collection using interactive digital signage, then make an immediate purchase. They also needed to be able to stay engaged through social networks.
Heidi.com was already engaging personally with customers in its online store, which offers shoppers custom greetings and offers. It was important to transfer this interactive experience into the bricks-and-mortar store to enhance emotional-impact shopping and help boost sales performance, while making the best possible use of expensive retail space.
For Heidi.com’s flagship store, we came up with a series of modular totems that are easy to arrange and rearrange. The totems have interactive touchscreens from Samsung, another key participant in the project. Customers can use the totems to get information about the store and its products. Registered customers can also access Heidi.com’s complete inventory and view variations of in-store items on a virtual endless shelf. There’s even an integrated camera that lets shoppers take a photo of themselves they can share with their friends through social media.
The whole project relied on being able to seamlessly deliver high-quality graphics, video, and online commerce—which wasn’t easy. Since we were using very large, high-resolution, interactive screens, there was an ocean of content that was hard to move. For this very demanding system, we used built-to-order hardware based on Intel Core i7 vPro processors. Besides delivering the power we needed, the Intel processors also helped control energy consumption.
For content and systems management and customer analytics, we developed software that incorporates Intel Retail Client Manager (Intel RCM), which offers the performance to help us create a personalized, immersive, but completely flexible environment where all the in-store media can remain fresh and engaging.
The Internet of Things
One key challenge for today’s retailers is to move from advertising-driven points of interest—the traditional role of digital signage—to creating additional points of sale. For the Retail of Tomorrow project, we were looking to develop an omnichannel shopping experience.
The platform uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to send targeted promotions and incentives to customers’ mobile devices as they pass or enter the store. This has helped Heidi.com build relationships with customers and understand their behavior and needs. Going forward, we expect wearables like watches will open new opportunities to interact with customers and enhance the shopping experience.
The bottom line is that the technologies we’ve used in the Retail of Tomorrow project can help retailers in many ways—for example, where a fully-fledged physical store wouldn’t be adequate or where the physical store space is too limited to carry all products in stock. Technology is finding exciting new ways to combine advertising and sales at the same point—and opening up vast new possibilities for both shoppers and retailers.
- Read the Heidi.com case study
- Learn about inox.com
- Learn about heidi.com
- Explore retailoftomorrow.com