Innovation in retail

What if there was another way to shop? How can the retail experience be improved for consumers like me who don’t want to play the game?

Well, here are some ideas

Similar to Argos, half of the store premises is back-of-store, keeping almost all the items in storage. A quarter of the store is dedicated to bespoke, comfortable changing rooms that are all connected to the back. Indeed, getting customers into the changing rooms is half the battle (particularly for men, where there’s a 65% chance they’ll buy the item they take in). Each changing room features a large touchscreen showing all the items available in store, their discounts and sale items, and sample outfits for you to combine. Selections are made on screen and are delivered through portholes to the cubicle you’re in, together with the sizes above and below as standard ,so you don’t have to go grab another when you realise you still haven’t shaken off that Christmas weight… from 2012 :(( [that’s a sad emoticon with a double chin].

An iBeacon or NFC loyalty-card touchpoint can take advantage of customer data – particularly if you’ve downloaded the store’s app. Your data will let the system know what you’ve purchased before and bring up stock in your size and other items that may interest you; discounts or gifts will be offered for particularly loyal customers “Thanks for the purchase George. It’s getting chilly out so have a free woolly hat on us – wrap up warm!”

There’s also the opportunity to take the power away from the tills and allow customers to pay in the changing rooms themselves, using NFC terminals. This would create a more frictionless experience for the shopper and allow behavioural economic opportunities such as real-time hyperbolic discounting on the screens to encourage last minute purchases, based on the purchases they’ve just made.

With on-screen technology in the changing rooms, there are further behavioural economic opportunities. If customers have their store account linked to their social media accounts, shops could exploit the nostalgia effect by showing old social media photos on screen “Look what you were wearing in winter three years ago! Fashion cool or fashion crime?” Or the social default bias by displaying “Avoid ‘matching coats syndrome’ – see what your friends have already bought this season”.

Shoplifting will be reduced by having fewer items front of house and each changing room being tracked on what’s been delivered. Tracking data is also available from these deliveries and stores can easily measure what items have been popular and tried on frequently, and perhaps more importantly, what have been popular but haven’t actually sold (something that would have been harder to track previously). This can help stores manage their inventories to ensure their most popular products are also converting into sales, and provide valuable data to predict trends and prepare for future demand.

The shop floor itself is, again, only a quarter – and there is only one of each product item on display. This allows people to browse in the more traditional sense, and touch and feel the products, which is a bit of a gripe with usual online shopping. Front of house staff numbers are reduced in number, but empowered in new roles as ‘fashion advisors’ and, by working with you, know exactly what seasonal palette would suit you, what cut would flatter you, and what you can afford given your budget. Their performance is measured on customer experience and feedback, never on sales, creating a friendly experience where customers aren’t worried about a hard sell.

And in the event of the power going out (thanks for the suggestion Dave Malloy) and the large screens are affected, the shop is fitted with Pavegen electricity generating floor tiles – meaning that backup power is constantly being produced.