Retail Tech

The intersection between retail and technology


Zappos is revolutionizing the online shopping experience one customer at a time. The company which began as an online shoe warehouse, has expanded to selling apparel and accessories using a loyalty business model. With 75% of their customer base being returning customers, their consumer loyalty is very high because of the value they see in taking complete care of their shoppers. Customers are always guaranteed free returns and are actually encouraged to buy multiple sizes of merchandise, then send back what does not fit so that the customer is ensured satisfaction. When customers call in, call center employees do whatever they can to satisfy their customer, even going as far as checking three competitor sites if the merchandise they want is not in stock. Also, employees do not follow any kind of script, so they are able to sound as genuine as possible.

Zappos concentrates on making work a relaxed and motivating environment, which creates more happiness in the workplace and more happiness among customers. The company culture encourages their employees to “deliver WOW through service” and “build open and honest relationships with communication.” The company values create a company culture that supports working hard, displaying creativity, and treating everyone with the respect they deserve. Customer responses and the rapidly growing business definitely reflect the values they instill in their employees.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, consumers are preparing to spend an increasing amount of money on their loved ones. As published in a recent article by the National Retail Federation, a “2016 Valentine's Day consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics” said “54.8 percent of consumers will celebrate Valentine's Day, spending an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more, up from $142.31 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $19.7 billion, a survey high” (NRF).

While 50 percent of consumer spending will be on candy, upwards of $6 billion will be spent on higher end merchandise, such as jewelry and apparel items. Nearly two-thirds of spending will be done in department and discount stores, proving that in-store data collection is valuable to retailers and consumers alike.

Personalization is a huge when it comes to finding the right gift for that special person in your life. As companies gather more and more data, and technology improves, brands will be able to provide individual shoppers with experiences that are specifically customized to them.

For retailers, having the ability to track the kind of customers they receive would change the way they meet customer needs. Valentine’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about consumers and ultimately, increase sales. On the flip side, by providing an interactive device into the retail space, consumers would have the opportunity to have a more engaging experiences while shopping for their loved ones.

CES 2016 introduced the tech industry to many new innovations, some which have the potential to change the face of retail and data collection. In the world of cosmetics, ModiFace is making a splash with their touch-screen tablets that give consumers the option to virtually try on different brands of makeup or celebrity hairstyles. For example, the tablets could be placed in retailers such as Sephora or Ulta Beauty, where shoppers would be allowed to try on different shades of lipstick with a touch of their finger. By giving customers the option to try on makeup with the ModiFace, product manufacturers would be able to see exactly which shades were the most popular and segment that data by time, location, weather conditions and more. Makeup brands could even go as far as testing new shades of eye shadow, lipstick, etc. to see customers’ reactions towards products that are unreleased or still being examined. ModiFace could be a huge asset to cosmetic brands as they use more data driven methods to understand their customers.

Another developing trend has been the use of larger and larger tablets inside of vehicles. The Tesla Model S for example features a massive 17-inch touchscreen display, which could offer a huge opportunity for data collection. Currently, that tablet is hardly used, but in the near future, as technology improves, these vehicles will be able to drive on their own. The popularization of self-driving cars could cause the emergence of a whole new market that focuses specifically on in car entertainment. Collecting data on these tablets would provide companies in that new market with a wealth of information that could be used to optimize and create the best content personalized for each driver. In the meantime, data collection at auto shows or dealerships is necessary to be able to understand today’s consumers and their preferences.

These fascinating trends in the tech industry will influence how consumers experience different aspects of their lives, such as shopping and driving. With each new improvement in technology and data analysis, companies take one step closer to understanding the minds of each consumer and then cater to them specifically.