E-commerce forces retail to reinvent itself: and the result is far better than expected

The e-commerce industry, or online sales, remains optimistic in 2019. According to a study by Statista , online sales in 2017 yielded an amount of 2.3 trillion dollars for traders and that number is expected to increase over the years, doubling by 2021.

Often seen as the main rival of the physical stores, online sales are gaining popularity and attracting new buyers for its practicality. This sale trend does not mean the end of traditional commerce, but a need for change. Many marketers are betting on technologies to continue making their stores attractive and to offer an even more advantageous experience than the convenience of buying in the comfort of home.

To take the place of the receptionist and draw the attention of the customers right at the door of the establishment a device called Holographic Greeter   was created. It is a small metal platform (similar to the structure of a digital scale) that produces a perfect hologram of the store receptionist, in a person’s actual size. The hologram plays any speech programmed by the shopkeeper, as if it were a real receptionist, according to the needs of the trade. The machine produces a high definition image visible at an angle of 360°; in addition, the “person” that welcomes customers is totally customizable, so that the store owner can choose the most suitable clothes for this avatar to welcome the potential customers.

Supermarkets

Have you ever thought about how much time we spend shopping at a supermarket? Walking through several corridors, staying in lines, packaging products, are tasks that consume time. As most consumers prefer to go to the supermarket to pick the products up, the retail industry has been investing in improvements to facilitate the shopping experience rather than engaging the services of home deliveries.

Amazon has created a new store concept that allows customers to choose the products they want without having to stay in cashier queues or even to open their wallets. Amazon Go is connected to a specific app downloaded to the mobile. When the customers enter the store, they just have to scan a QR code to be able to start shopping without worrying about queues or payment methods. A complex system of cameras with facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and proximity sensors guarantees the payment of the goods effectively chosen, even if the consumers change their mind and put a product aside at the counter. When the clients finish shopping, they just leave the establishment carrying their products without worrying about anything else. The amount spent on their purchases will be billed directly to Amazon’s account, who will send a receipt to the clients’ phone within a few minutes.

Most supermarkets in Japan use grocery baskets, which are little used in Brazil. As the Japanese do not have the habit of shopping for the whole month, the volume purchased in each visit to the market is much smaller. As a result,   baskets in the supermarkets have a coupled barcode reader – a quick way of calculating prices as the consumer transfers the package from the shelf to the basket. Upon arrival at the cashier, the consumer just has to put the basket in the appropriate place and the computer will calculate the amount spent automatically without help from an employee. The cashier is also high-tech and immediately bundles all purchases, making the trip to the supermarket much faster and practical.

Clothes retail

Clothing stores have also been able to improve sales, making it an even more enjoyable buying experience with the use of new devices. One of them is the interactive mirror Mirrus , a creation of a New York company that aims to increase the number of sales from fashion suggestions. The smart mirror provides tips of accessories that match the chosen clothing. All registered accessories are sold in the same store, and the mirror informs the customer the exact location of each item. When not in use, the mirrors have a multimedia function capable of projecting photos or videos. Currently, there are already more than 3,000 Mirrus units installed in US clothing stores.

Another way to increase the number of visits is to eliminate certain inconveniences, like going to the dressing room. Today, dozens of US stores have  virtual dummies , which work through screens scattered around the stores, been activated the moment a customer pulls a product from the hanger. Instantly, images show how the chosen clothing fits the client’s body. To suit each person’s body type, the screens have cameras that take pictures of the clients to later perform the “magic” exchange without the client having to change.

Store owners have already realized that the retail sector needs to reinvent itself in order to continue attracting new customers and proposing differentiated physical experiences. Technology is the key to that change.

 

 


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