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Retail’s Top Innovations Focus on Experience Over Product

The retail industry has been evolving since the first ambitious entrepreneurs set up shack at the turn of the 19th century. Technology has gone from a privilege to a necessity and the shopping experience has stolen the spotlight from the actual products. Retail stores undoubtedly have to keep up with the changing times and incorporate technology into the shopping experience, putting this year’s retail innovations on the radar.

Smart Fitting Rooms

Retailers throughout the nation have developed new ways to enhance the fitting room experience. Stores like Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Rebecca Minkoff and Burberry, among others, have taken on a revolution called smart fitting rooms. This experiment turns everyday mirrors into interactive displays that allow shopping options you would normally only be given if you were browsing the web. The technology allows you to see if the store has a specific item of clothing in a different size, color or style, and have an associate bring it to your room.

Customer benefits of the virtual mirrors include being able to call for assistance, get product information, advice on mixing and matching, item availability, social sharing, product feedback in the form of reviews, and videos. It takes the regular trying-on experience to an unparalleled fusion of technology and reality.

Methods of Payment

Technology has made it so that lugging along your wallet on shopping trips is no longer necessary. Stores including Duane Reade, Sephora, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Nike, to name a few, accept Apple Pay, Apple’s contactless payment app. This innovation, for one, reduces the time you wait in line because of the fewer people digging through their bags, picking the right card from their wallet, or counting out dimes to get exact change. Apple has agreements with most major credit card companies to work with their iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad products so customers can pay with this simple, secure and private method.

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Google Wallet allows the customer to pay in-store or online with a Gmail address. The advantage it has over Apple Pay is that it works with any debit or credit card on every mobile carrier. You can use your Google Wallet card to pay your Google Wallet balance in-store and you can also use it to withdraw cash at an ATM, and instant notifications for every transaction come right to your phone. It also allows users to send money to anyone in the U.S. with a Gmail address, in addition to requesting money on the go. As far as apps and mobile sites, look for the “Buy with Google” button and check out with just a couple of clicks. Google Wallet comes with 24/7 fraud monitoring and can easily be disabled if anything is ever lost or stolen.

Digital In-Store Shopping

Omnichannel shopping is a game-changer in retail. Companies that have brought a digital, online experience to brick-and-mortars are already ahead of the game. Perch Interactive, a four-person firm developing a new kind of interactive display for shoes in retail, uses projected light and motion sensors to enhance products positioned on in-store countertops. It senses when a product is physically picked up, allowing you to press buttons around the shoe to find out what colors and sizes are available, as well as style tips.

Everyday retail stores have also integrated new digital concepts to their shopping experience. Ugg Australia opened a technology-driven store in Washington, D.C. that has HD touch screens with product information and styling tips. Rebecca Minkoff, along with its interactive mirrors, has a “Connected Glass” shopping wall where shoppers can check in upon arrival. They can view an online catalog, tap the items they are interested in and have them sent straight to a dressing room.

Five nationwide Bloomingdale’s location have a 3D scanner which analyzes your body and determines what brand, size and style fits you best, all in a mere 15 seconds. Similarly, Sephora has teamed up with Pantone LLC to create an in-store technology that helps people choose the right shades of foundation, moisturizer and powder by simply scanning your skin.

Motion Gesture Window Shopping

Everyone loves window shopping; it’s what people do when funds are tight or shops are closed. German researchers have given this familiar concept a new meaning and a new motive. The Interactive Shop Window consists of a flat screen monitor and a motion tracker positioned behind the glass of the store’s front window. It can sense motion and promptly show products, styles and sizes upon detecting movement.

Adidas was inspired by the technology, and in several locations, you can walk by its store windows and flick through clothing racks, individual garments and even play with a model to see different positions of the item. It has taken this technology one step further by allowing you to connect with your phone and drag the items from the window to an online shopping cart. Ralph Lauren has also installed this technology, allowing passersby to unlock exclusive interactive content including new collections and a link to its website. Kate Spade Saturday is among the many other retailers to invest in this technology, having partnered with eBay to develop 24 hour interactive storefronts in Manhattan.