We see technology hitting brick and mortar. Elegance and fashion have always gone hand in hand. Now, technology has swung the cage door open and there are tantalizing new ways to build brand experiences. But there are also a dozen cautionary red flags. Here’s our view: there are dynamic tech strategies to bring social media to the mall, personalize the sense of discovery and strengthen the emotional Zeitgeist. That feels like a killer deal.
Now, here is where it gets real. You’re half naked in a retail store booth.
An intimate full body scan with 20,000 photo measurements (privacy assured!) and a mathematical algorithm are about to dictate your new fall wardrobe.
Is this a good thing?
That’s a subject for branding psychologists, retail futurists and everyone headed to the mall. We’ve been studying this exact impact zone in our Romancing the Store research study.
It’s a compelling story with several billion dollars’ worth of implication. Just consider a few. When does tech’s transactional efficiency kill the emotional and sensory rewards of shopping — the adventure, discovery and escape? How do we evaluate these enhanced and novel technologies for their appropriate use as brand application? Is the journey worth the cost of admission?
Beyond the questions, opportunity abounds. You’re in a store, iPhone exploding with special deals texted with aisle-by-aisle precision. Intrigued or skeptical? Groupon and Living Social are both dialing in the possibilities of geofencing.
Or consider how the mall has quickly morphed into a tech incubator. A company in Brazil embeds RFID tags in clothing. Slip on that new designer hoodie in the changing room and it automatically triggers music that evokes the feel or mood of the clothing. Yes, a sweatshirt that plays 80’s old school hip-hop.
Crowd-sourcing is the new fashion consultant. Nordstrom has a special display of clothing categorized by “most-pinned” on Pinterest. South American retailer C&A has their own social twist, with fashion items denoting the “likes” generated on the company Facebook page.
Every new technology comes with both promise and price tag.
In this collision of in-store retail, technology and the emotional metrics of shopping, here’s what we believe should drive the discussion. (We welcome your insights and counter-point tweets below)
1. How do we build a unique personality into a transactional technology?
2. What’s the right criteria for evaluating a brand experience in the retail space?
3. Social media is now part of the shipping ritual. What metrics should be set in place determine success?