Digital TransformationRetail5 retail technology highlights from NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show

5 retail technology highlights from NRF 2019: Retail's Big Show

There were plenty of amazing innovations in retail technology at NRF 2019: Retail's Big Show. Here are five of the highlights.

When I met Anthony Bruce from Mastercard at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show two weeks ago, he was very excited to tell me about 29Rooms, the company’s immersive commerce partnership with Los Angeles luxury retail brand Fred Segal and Refinery29. I promised to go into the expo hall and check it out, though my expectations were fairly low for no other reason than, I’d been to the Consumer Electronics Show before.

If you’ve also been to CES, you probably get what I mean by that. Maybe you, too, have come to associate trade shows with amazing innovations that ultimately lack real world practicality. Julia Stead, the SVP of Marketing at Invoca, already mentioned the $8,000 smart toilet, which: what?

But 29Rooms wasn’t like that. It doesn’t require expensive hardware, nor does it solve a problem that probably hasn’t occurred to the average person. Mood lighting emanating from a toilet, for example. At core, 29Rooms is pretty simple: A way for a brand to enhance ecommerce by allowing consumers to shop online the way they would in a brick-and-mortar retail store. Scroll to walk around; click one of the plus signs to learn more about or buy an item.

Like CES’ numerous showrooms around Las Vegas, the NRF event had cool technologies as far as the eye could see. But like 29Rooms, they were largely more functional than futuristic. In many cases, retail brands are already using them as differentiators, whether that means improving the customer experience or marketing themselves as offering a more modern, omnichannel customer experience.

Here are five more retail technology highlights from NRF 2019:

Augmented reality fittings

According to 3D modeling company Body Labs, poor fit is the catalyst for 77% of online returns. Perfitly tackles that problem with scan-based avatars and 3D clothing replicas. The company’s technology combines those, enabling shoppers to see how the items look on their bodies, rather than those of the models on the website, people whose job it is to look great in clothes. Retailers like Descendant of Thieves, Otero Menswear and Masterclass Apparel already use Perfitly on their websites.

Interactive fitting room kiosks

Have you ever been in a fitting room and realized you need a different size or actually, you hate this color? Or maybe you’ve tried to mentally add all the items in your head, and given up. Aila Technologies’ iOS-based kiosks for fitting rooms take care of all of that. Customers can request items, receive product recommendations, view their running cart totals and email themselves. American Eagle Outfitters has already installed them in fitting rooms around the company with plans for more later this year.

Smart self-checkout carts

A company called Caper brings Amazon Go’s “just walk out technology” to other retailers with smart shopping carts. Powered by deep learning and computer visions, the cart “knows” when you add items. It also includes a screen that serves as a store map, item locator, payment solution and recommendation engine. The latter is particularly useful for recipe discovery as Caper’s retail partners are mostly Northeastern grocery stores such as C-Town and Pioneer Supermarkets.

Outfit-based recommendation engines

Product recommendations are a hallmark of online shopping. When they’re executed well, retailers help curate often overwhelmingly large inventories, guiding customers toward conversion. FINDMINE’s recommendation engine doesn’t stop at products, instead suggesting entire outfits based on what you’re browsing. Adidas’ Complete the Look feature relies on FINDMINE, decreasing the time merchandisers spend choosing outfits manually by 95%.

Self-service returns

When people decide to buy from a brand online, hassle-free returns are one of the top criterion. Long lines are also a detractor for brick-and-mortar stores. Put those two together and you’ve got Sensormatic Solutions’ automated return kiosk, which has yet to hit the market. You simply scan your receipt and put the merchandise under a scanner, which confirms that you’re returning the right item. Put it in a dropbox and leave.

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