Retail technology alone is not the solution

Retailers should not be spending money on technology in-store without clear use cases. Rather this investment must be focussed on innovations that are squarely addressing well understood problems. Yet I don’t feel that the demo store in Shoreditch that was featured in this week’s BBC Click gets that point.

“Why would I use this?” asks Lara Lewington twice during the report, once having tried out what I thought was a very impressive virtual changing room.  I have spoken with shoppers and retailers in the Middle East who would likely love that solution rather than risk the fear of spy cameras hidden in the changing room; or to harassed parents trying to get their child to put on the 5th outfit (by the way – gamify the experience a bit, and the kids will want to try on even more!).  But without creating the setting, this, like most other ‘stores of the future’ comes across as a series of geeky gadgets with little real world applicability.

Other examples, such as the rather dreary, staid and static and empty looking endless aisle just miss the point altogether.  Simply showing a pack shot of a product with less information than would be visible on a real shelf is self-defeating.  And then to do it on impulse products (a packet of sweets in this case) is a clear mis-use of the service. 

Cloudshelf is of course a technology provider to the retail space. Yet we are above all focussed on solving a retail issue and making the wizardry behind it near invisible.

The BBC clip is here: bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-57102824

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