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#NRF16: Trend spotting at Retail's Big Show

  • Opinion
  • January 21, 2016
  • Scott Bradley
#NRF16: Trend spotting at Retail's Big Show
Image credit: National Retail Federation

On the final day of NRF, I finally had a moment to really go and look at some of the exhibitors here; I was immediately struck by the level of innovation and use of customer engagement sensors. Three solutions popped out at me – all focused on understanding where the customer is located in the store and what products they’re interested in buying.

The first solution leverages Microsoft Kinect camera technology, using a customer’s mobile device to detect which product the customer is picking up off of a retail shelf and examining. In the mock shoe store Microsoft set up on their booth (pictured) we were able to interact with the products and see the technology in action - it really is impressive how accurate it is!

Another technology that provides an amazing opportunity to better understand customer behavior uses special LED lights in the store, oscillating at different frequencies to identify where the customer is inside the store. From this, retailers can not only provide highly accurate indoor way finding and directions to products, but can also gain valuable info about where customers are looking in the store, what products or departments they are most interested in. The idea is not dissimilar to beacons, the real difference here is the increased accuracy which this solution offers yet, still at a reasonable cost with little installation overhead.

And finally, the third example highlights a partner solution from Intel, using ink that senses the product on the shelf and identifies its weight, to determine what the customer is taking from the shelf and putting in their basket.

All three solutions are extremely interesting when you consider the insight each provides and how it can be used to re-target the customer with the products they were considering for purchase. Seeing these types of innovations first-hand as they develop really highlights just how much  in-store customer experience is going to change over the coming years.

This copy originally appeared on Scott Bradley's LinkedIn blog.

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