Akamai Diversity

The Akamai Blog

Following Up from Future Stores Part 1: Macy's Go

Late last month I attended the Future Stores 2015 conference in Seattle. If you haven't heard of Future Stores before, here's some brief background: it's held by Worldwide Business Research and brings together retail operators, omni-channel, customer experience and IT execs to focus on in-store innovation and how to bridge the digital and physical retail environments. As Chief Strategist of Commerce at Akamai, I was excited to learn how future-thinking stores are innovating, and better understand how Akamai fits into the picture. This is the first of two follow up posts. I'll start by recapping some of the innovations retailers have already started putting into practice.
Hointer - Macy's Go
Nadia Shouraboura, CEO of Hointer (and ex VP of worldwide operations at Amazon) gave a demo of her in-store technology that's currently being showcased at the Macy's in Manhattan Beach, CA. The technology has allowed Macys to dramatically open up floor space by only displaying a single size of each item while drastically increasing both personalization and automation of their in-store experience. That might sound a bit contradictory to some folks, so allow me to explain.

Here's how it works: Customers who have download the Macy's Go app can see the multiple sizes and colors of the item available by scanning the tag in the merchandise they are interested in. If they like what they see immediately, they can quickly add it to their cart. If they want to try on items, they select that option through the app and are assigned a dressing room, where the selected items are already waiting for them when they arrive. It's the concept of a micro-warehouse come to life - through the magic combination of robotics and storage efficiency items can be delivered to a customer in 30 seconds, and items they don't like are dropped in a bin and put back in the inventory in a minute or less.

Future Stores Blog 1.png

Once the customer enters the dressing room the level of personalization can increase in one of two ways:

  1. An in-store associate monitors customer carts and dressing rooms while simultaneously acting as a stylist who can recommend more items and have them sent to the dressing room
  2. The customer can add a recommendation engine to their customer cart to analyze the basket and past purchases, automating the process
Customers can also use their phone or a tablet in the dressing room to request any additional items they choose and have them brought directly to their dressing room. Nadia made specific mention of a customer's "basket value" which is directly tied to the amount of items they try on in a given shopping sessions.

I'll get to the massive impact this has on customer experience in a moment, but first let's take a look at how it changes the visual aesthetic of the store. Here's the activewear floor before:

Future Stores Blog 2.png

and after:

Future Stores Blog 3.png

The benefits for the store are two-fold. The functionality makes more efficient use of space and provides less cluttered shopping environment, while simultaneously allowing customers to have an optimized and customized shopping experience. This is quite literally the future of retail stores. While Macy's is at the forefront of this progress, many other retailers are making strides to provide customers with a personalized omnichannel experience.

At Akamai, we're excited to partner with these retailers to deliver the experiences they want to their customers, and frankly, they need our help. In-store WiFi is notoriously unreliable, and cellular networks are subject to latency and spotty availability. Add in performance and reliability issues during peak events like holiday sales or black Friday, and suddenly a store's innovations become problems rather than solutions. When this happens, customers won't be happy and stores will see the effects, likely during their most critical sales events. Thankfully, Akamai has future stores covered - our globally distributed platform has optimized the Internet to provide fast, reliable and secure experiences to end users regardless of their location, device, connection, or browser. How are we doing so? We partnered with Cisco to accelerate applications, video and content in branch stores while also maximizing enterprise network bandwidth. See the impact of what we're doing here or learn about Cisco Intelligent Wan with Akamai Connect here. For more on how we're simplifying the omnichannel experience for consumers, click here.

In my next post, I'll discuss other Future Stores highlights from forward-thinking companies like EyeQ, Ford and Gamestop. Stay tuned.