Amazon Go is essentially a grab and go store, offering ready to go meals, meal kits and convenience items. Through the app, the customer identifies themselves on entering the store and the technology does the rest. The customer shops as usual but just walks out when they are finished.
Utilising camera machine learning integrated with shelf sensors is impressive. Amazon’s cageyness raises some questions, but their journey is fascinating. The accuracy bar required is so high, and the concept needed significant testing for multiple shoppers.
Be channel agnostic
Omni-channel, I think is becoming a bit of a dirty word, but Mary Beth Laughton from Sephora talked how the company changed her role to take the “channel” out of the equation to focus on experiences for the shopper. Defining a new way for Sephora to do business, this move was aimed at stopping the business operating in silos, with an omni-channel customer experience as the goal. Sephora has launched several initiatives, including: Sephora Virtual Assistant, Beauty Insider Community, Store Companion and Digital Guide.
Agility and pace
Hardware chain Lowe’s introduced a new technology called “Measured by Lowe’s.” This app turns an augmented reality-enabled iPhone or iPad into a digital tape measure that can calculate, align, filter measurements and even share them on social media. Taking the guess work out of taking, saving and sending measurements, it aims to boost the customer experience and reduce friction in shoppers’ home improvement endeavors.
How refreshing to have a CEO say businesses need to get rid of the distractions around how a sale is accounted for, or how investments deliver results based only on singular metric. ”Where do you put those sales?” asked Sur la Table’s Billy May. “How do we account for the investment in digital?” The customer doesn’t care. The shopper may be inspired in-store then shop online, or they may be sitting on a train and remember they need to pick up a present today. The salesperson makes the commission regardless. Focus on the customer and then you watch the market share grow as sales increase.
Know your customer, engage and deliver
Nike has more than 100 million members in its Nike+ loyalty program and they spend nearly four times more than non-member guests. Nike attributes this to three customer segments it has developed different offerings for: the ‘Weekend Runner’; the ‘Style Shopper’ and the ‘Dedicated Sneakerhead’.
Nike has been incredibly innovative by gamifying its exclusive product launches with its SNKRS Stash targeted at the dedicated sneakerhead. With SNKRS Stash, sneakerheads go on a city-wide treasure hunt for virtual ‘Stash Spots’ where they can purchase the products via mobile. Stash Squad is now in development by Nike, which allows fans not located near the treasure hunt to join a ‘squad,’ watch the event via livestream and receive the product.
Riches in niches
Boxed is an online wholesale company with no membership fee, offering low prices on big-sized grocery and household items. Despite a limited product selection of about 1,600 items, the average order value of a box is $100, with eight to 10 items per order. Closing the loop on ROI, brands are seeking Boxed due to the rich insights it shares from demographic to customer path to purchase data.
As a side note, this was the funniest and most entertaining presentation of the conference. Chieh Huang is a CEO with a fabulous attitude and authentic positioning.
A conference worth the investment
This conference was truly refreshing. I left feeling uplifted, inspired and excited about what the future holds for retail ahead. I did feel a little overwhelmed at the pace at which technology is moving and that even the most admired retailers don’t have all the answers.
This is a conference where you can rock up to anyone and they are happy to engage in conversation (a mixed Kiwi-Aussie accent helps). People are open, opinionated, open to new dialogue and talking shop. This is a fraternity I am proud of, one very open to working through problems together. I look forward to attending again next year to drink more from the firehose of retail leadership.