Earlier this year Retail Week looked at how Retail was expected to outperform the wider UK economy and lists like The Hot 100 by Real Business revealed that retail is becoming the fastest growing business sector in the UK. The retail industry is extremely fast changing, especially due to the fairly recent ecommerce boom which required retail companies to adjust their services to changing customer needs and preferences. The emerging ‘armchair economy’ and our obsessive relationship with technology resulted some seriously impressive retail innovations and solutions. Below we highlight some of the most interesting innovations in the retail sector of 2015:
1. Waitrose Hiku Home Scanning
The grocery chain has been testing their ‘hiku’ device which is dedicated to make online shopping easy, fun and even more convenient. The Hiku is an innovative scanning solution which uses voice recognition and barcode scanning technology to help customers add items to their online shopping basket in a quick and easy way. When not at home, customers can use the hiku app on their smartphone to scan barcodes and add products to their baskets.
2. DHL Drones
Although both Amazon and Google had been experimenting with drones, it was DHL who announced a regular drone-based delivery service for the first time. The company uses autonomous ‘quadcopters’ that fly under 50 meters to avoid entering air traffic corridors. They deliver small parcels in a special weatherproof air parcel container to the German island of Juist.
3. Pizza Hut - Tobii Technology
Pizza Hut introduced a ‘Subconscious Menu’ which reads the customers’ mind. The Tobii menu tracks customers’ eyes when looking at the menu to create the pizza they really want to eat. The company uses a tablet device to show the different ingredients to the customers and then to collect the ‘eye data’ to come up with the ideal menu. Its success rate is 98%, but the remaining 2% can get the ideal dish by choosing their ingredients manually as well.
4. Like to Know
This app makes fashion bloggers’ Instagram shoppable. If a bloggers use this solution in their Instagram posts it allows their followers to receive a product link via e-mail when they like the photo. If the user clicks on the link and buys something the publisher will collect a commission.
5. River Island x Google Cardboard
River Island was the first fashion brand to pioneer the use of Google Cardboard to bring a virtual reality experience to shoppers. Customers who downloaded the app and slot their smartphone into a Google Cardboard –a few flagship stores offered free trials- could watch 360 degree catwalk and buy the brand’s newest collection.
The list above shows that the retail industry is continuing to evolve and that technology lies at the heart of retail innovation. As more and more startups develop in the retail tech space, so does the support on hand.
IncuBus London, an early stage startup incubator, recently announced the launch of IncuBus Retail in collaboration with Camden Market. The focus is on helping early stage startups in or servicing the retail sector gain traction ready for an accelerator or funding.
More advanced startups with proven traction can benefit from retail focused accelerators such as True Start or JLab.
In November WIRED Retail Together with Valtech, the second annual one-day summit exploring the future of retailing -- with those who are building it, comes to London.
As other sectors are already well underway with the tech revolution, retail looks set to join as startups wade in with new innovations.