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, omni-channel, customer web 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 second follow post that I'm doing to recap some of the highlights I heard at the conference. My first post highlighted how Macy's Go was personalizing and streamlining the omnichannel shopping experience.
While shopping in stores, many consumers miss the rich, dynamic experience they have online, where they can read reviews, compare prices, search for discounts and more. Indeed - 47% of shoppers use their phones to look up additional information in store. The downside to this is that it could lead to consumers using the store as a showroom to buy online, possibly even from a competitor. That's why companies are encouraging shoppers to engage on their mobile commerce apps, a controlled environment where companies can provided catered, dynamic and customized shopping experiences. A few retailers that debuted some technology at the conference that I thought was particularly cool and unique are:
EyeQ has implemented facial recognition video intelligence to assess customers when they enter stores. They can segment customers based on age, gender, or mood, which enables them to A/B test relevant advertising and cater to a specific shopper. Not only does this allow for more personalized web experiences, it also collects a vast amount of consumer intelligence that companies can use to inform future innovation. EyeQ also employs technology that works in conjunction with IBM Watson. Upon entering a store, shoppers are prompted to enter their twitter handle, which IBM Watson uses to create a weighted personality data report for the EyeQ display. Working in tandem with the facial intelligence software, EyeQ can create a highly personalized in-store shopping experience. See it in action here.
GameStop, like EyeQ, is focused on bringing the richness of the online shopping experience in-store. Upon arrival, customers on the app are directed to "Beacon Zones" where they can use their phones to see ratings, reviews, and trailers for new releases all in one place. They have also implemented technology that better allows employees to provide a great customer web experience to shoppers. Once they enter a store, with the application, employees are updated with information on the customers favorite genres, console preferences and current game library, allowing them to provide the most useful assistance - especially to family or friends who are buying for someone else.
Unlike EyeQ and GameStop, Ford is aiming to provide potential customers with the in-store experience regardless of their location. Ford has synched their technology with Google Cardboard so customers can take virtual reality tours of any of their cars from remote locations. The process is simple, customers make a request through Ford's website and are e-mailed the link. Once received, customers get an immersive web experience that responds to head and eye movement, and allows for the selection of different color options and placements within the vehicle all using their own smartphone and a simple cardboard viewer. Like EyeQ, Ford also uses IBM Watson technology that makes recommendations to vehicles that best suit a customer's personality based on their Twitter accounts.
At Akamai, we're excited to work with innovative retailers as they continue to re-define the retail landscape. Our solutions deliver fast, reliable and secure web experiences to end users, regardless of their location, device, connection, or browser. One way we're doing this is a partnership with Cisco to accelerate applications, video and content in branch stores while also maximizing enterprise network bandwidth. Read why optimizing the in-store web shopping experience matters, or learn about Cisco Intelligent Wan with Akamai Connect. For more on how we're simplifying the omnichannel experience to improve e-commerce performance.