I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression: “a have 2 ears and 1 mouth because we should listen twice as much as we speak.” While that sounds good in concept, it is sometimes hard to do, especially when writing a blog, but that is what I would like to try to do today. The topic du Jour is: Smart Shopping. Specifically, using things like interactive kiosks, cameras, touch screens, and even gesture recognition to improve your shopping experience. And like any good toolbox, the more of the aforementioned tools we use, the more impressive the final solution could be. Let me attempt to get the conversation going by sharing with you a short video that we recently released, based on a demo we showed at last week’s NRF show:
As you can hopefully tell from the video, the “Beauty Spot” is an interactive kiosk that will help you understand better some of the cosmetic products that Macy’s has to offer, which is great, but I could see this moving to the “next step” so to speak.
For example, would you find it useful if you could sit down in something that feels like a professional makeup station, like they have for movie stars? Then using multiple cameras and other sensors, they could generate a computer generated model of your face, including your natural skin tone, but virtually “washing off” any makeup you are already wearing, starting with a clean slate if you will. Then it could get started with some different trial modes. For example, it could put on some fast pre-programmed options that you might be able to scroll through with just a wave of your hand (gesture recognition) like flipping through a magazine. If you come across an option you like, a quick “thumbs up” could put that into your favorites folder, so you could explore that option further. Or, if you really liked an option you could delve into it right there while the system remembers where you were for later. Perhaps you could even play with the option you selected, such a making the eye shadow a little lighter or perhaps your eyelashes a scooch longer. Tweak the settings to your heart’s content & then save it a one of your official looks. And, of course the major outcome of this effort is that, at the end, they “Beauty Computer” will tell you that, to get “Look #7″ (from your list), you’ll need Lipstick A, Eyeliner B, Foundation C, etc., etc.
But this is just one example. From here, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine how there could be other, very similar efforts:
- Hair Styles (including not only different cuts, but also colorings, permanents, etc.)
- Clothing (the options are almost endless, but your body would become a virtual doll to be dressed)
- Cars (pick your model & local painting companies could show you options)
- Furniture (borrow a room sizer & parametric camera, then mix & match furniture to your heart’s content)
- What else?
In the era of “online sales growing strongly” – the regular “brick & mortar” locations need to start fighting back or risk going out of business. By providing customers with something they can’t get from online (like a face/body/whatever models that they can get made in-store) so that they can continue to build on brand loyalty & try to secure repeat business. Some of the more forward-looking Brands/Companies like Levi’s have worked on using very high-end (read: Expensive) laser scans to measure the exact dimensions of women’s bodies. In theory, that is great, but in practice, it is cost prohibitive. But, with some much cheaper (but nearly as good) technology like those found in Microsoft’s Kinect, you could see how national chains like Macy’s, JC Pennys, The Gap, etc. could turn 1 dressing room in every store into a “Make your Model” room where you wear a bikini or swimsuit & they model your body style not just for 1 brand of jeans, but a wide variety of different clothing – dresses, shorts, blouses, etc. so that you can get a quick feeling of what the “latest styles” would look like on you – not some silly, super-skinny super-model in Milan, Italy.
From the consumer experience – you can do more shopping, in less time – both on and off line, and get a greater feeling of “personalized” care. For the stores, they can build a more personal relationship with their customers, for a reasonable investment in technology, and build on that brand/store loyalty what will pay them dividends down the road. But this is all the semi-obvious, low-hanging fruit. Stuff that people have been talking about for a while. Here’s where (I hope) this gets interesting: What Do YOU Think Will Happen?
- What is a current frustration that you have in your shopping experience that you think Technology could maybe fix?
- How would you want stores/retailers/brands to use technology to treat you better & meet your needs more?
- What type of shopping (clothes, food, pharmacy, etc.) feels antiquated & could really be “modernized” a bit?
- What do you think “shopping in the future” will be like? The Jetsons? Buck Rogers? Mad Max?
- How do YOU want “Smart Shopping” to make your life better?
Let us know in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear what you think!!