Experiential marketing expert Parveez Nasyam, CEO & MD – Xenium Digital, writes by invitation on futuristic technology in the retail world, and how technology can help brick-and-mortar retailers square up to the ecommerce challenge
A self-driven quadcopter lands on your porch to take you to work. That is your Uber for the day, but the driver is an 8th generation android by the name of, ‘Mike’, who is fluent with human interactions and navigational routines.
As you reach your workplace on the 275th floor, your boss holograms you to discuss the tasks that need immediate attention.
This is just a glimpse of the future that is not so far away from where we are now. With crash-proof cars on the road, Avatars on the battlefront that can replace the human soldier, portable laser-based healing systems that will eliminate the need for stitches and reduce the time required for a wound to recover, it’s all happening around us. It is safe to assume that change is the only constant, and that’s the universal truth for every domain.
Experiential technologies are at the forefront of these changes. The focus is on millennials and younger people who are very receptive to new ideas. The rate of acceptance towards changes around them is considered to be much higher than the older bunch of consumers.
With E-commerce being the most obvious weapon of choice for marketers, as it targets them in their comfort zone, the emphasis on brick and mortar has increased even further. Engaging the consumer as they enter a store is the need of the day. Technology is the retailers’ greatest ally in the war against e-commerce.
Tech in Retail
Here are a few technologies that have made an appearance, and some that will.
270-degree corner cave
This tech in retail is inspired by the cinema hall that has a massive screen to captivate viewers, 270-degree corner cave adds two more screens – one to each side. It gives the viewer a sensation of continuously progressive pictures that are in motion. Shrink the size of the screens down to the size of walls in a living room. Add a touch functionality to it, and the interaction of the user with the technology will be stunningly impressive.
Brands are using the 270-degree corner caves to showcase the products that involve colours, arts, graphics, and services.
Sometimes technologies are not about making a sale, they are simply about engaging the user while providing a glimpse of what the brand can do.
Cuboids with a message or colour-stacked on a wall in rows and columns that rotate in groups depending on the location of the user is a technology that engages and interacts without the need to have any background sounds or visuals.
Projecting on any surface gives the user the illusion that the object is in action. Place that projection technology in a retail outlet, in an unexpected area and the user will be taken by surprise when the simulation starts playing. This technology can be extremely effective in a cross-branding exercise that is conducted in a retail outlet that is trying to push a new product alongside the ones it is already selling.
Augmented reality using the smartphone has been happening for quite some time now. Augmenting over objects and people in the line of sight can be very helpful in a customer’s retail journey. If the AR glasses are given to a customer as they enter the store, the glasses will project product-specific information that will provide assistance to the buyers instantly, without the human factor interrupting the user journey.
Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest (Virtual Reality)
Virtual reality has stepped up its game and how. It is impossible to undermine the effect it has on a user’s senses. Retail stores provide a therapeutic experience which in many ways is meant to provide instant user gratification.
With the increasing real estate prices and forever evolving customer requirements, bringing something new to the table every single time is not financially feasible.
With the Oculus Rift, a virtual store can engage the customers in tailored retail experiences that can engage the users every time they step into the store. The experiences can have a brand-specific game, showcasing a fashion show with the latest collection or maybe showcasing a newly opened store in another part of the world.
Rest assured, the user will hardly be able to differentiate in between the virtual world and what’s real.
The future of retail is more than AI, VR, and AR. The future is about incorporating these technologies in experiences to take customer satisfaction and user involvement to another level. ‘Dream on’ isn’t the phrase technologists and futurists believe in; instead, they possess the power to simply, ‘turn on a dream’.
Footnote: Incidentally, ‘Apart from the 270-degree corner cave, the rest are futuristic concepts that Xenium Digital has the technical expertise and know-how to execute for potential clients.