Retail chain John Lewis operating in Great Britain has launched a ‘Shazam for fashion’. The findSimilar search function in the retailer’s iPad app uses image recognition to recommend customers fashion items they might like to buy too.
Trends, new disruptive technologies, robotization, digitization, datafication, and new consumer expectations all have a massive impact on the way retailers do business, marketing, and media. The speed of these changes will surprise and shock them.
And if you think “OMG, another new technology?” Yes, in the era of digital Darwinism only the species most adaptable to change will survive. To be more specific: the only constant is change!
The good news, however? Change is opportunity. Chaos is opportunity.
In this story, retailers can discover how to monetize the John Lewis Shazam-like technology. And which other trends and technologies can fuel their digital transformation and omnichannel strategies.
152-Year-Old Retail Chain Introduces ‘Shazam For Fashion’ Technology
John Lewis, the chain with 45 upmarket department stores throughout England, Scotland, and Wales opened its first store in 1864 in Oxford Street, London.
Can you imagine how many times they have reinvented themselves in a period of one and a half-century? If they can do it, so can you.
Like most other retailers John Lewis enticed fewer shoppers on its retail floors last year, decreasing its offline revenues by 3% percent.
However, by investing in digital John Lewis boosted its eCommerce revenues by 21%. Total sales were up 6.9% accounting for total sales of $1,4 billion over 2015.
Now John Lewis’ eCommerce revenues account for 40% of all sales, despite the fact that they introduced a fee for ‘click-and-collect orders’.
With findSimilar software, John Lewis offers visual search functionality that allows digital shoppers to find other in-stock fashion items of a similar shape, color, and pattern.
For now, John Lewis embedded the ground-breaking image recognition software in its iPad app. Mobile and Web might follow.
The Cortexica findSimilar software was developed at Imperial College London and is backed by business incubator Imperial Innovations.
The software is already being used by a range of top retailers including US department store group Macy’s, designer fashion site Net-a-Porter, and European online clothing retailer Zalando.
Again a new technology that offers the suffering retail sector new ways to enhance customer experience while boosting eCommerce revenues.
Read along to discover more groundbreaking trends and technologies for retail.
Trends & Technologies That Help Retail In Their Digital Transformation
For years I have been exploring trends and technologies that will shake up the retail and eCommerce industries. The most actionable and compelling examples I use in my retail keynotes and trend sessions.
Here are a few trends and technologies that could ignite retail revenues:
1. Robots & drones enable Amazon to deliver digital shoppers their products faster than a pizza. How will you as a retailer react to that trend?
2. Dedicated product search engines are why digital natives prefer Amazon above Google. Shoppers don’t want Google’s clutter when they are in the buying mode. Retailers might want to reinvent their digital shop-in-shop strategy?
3. Social commerce has failed at all major social networks for over a decade. See, Like but no Buy?! How on earth can retailers monetize their massive social fan bases this way? Now social platforms are confusing digital shoppers even more with their buy buttons: 20% of the inventory will be for sale, but the other 80% won’t.
Retailers can coin social commerce by keeping their eyes open for the next generation of social shopping platforms. The ones that are one big buy button.
I will cover the trend called social shopping from a 360 degrees point of view soon. So subscribe to math man magazine if you want to be the first to know.
4. Selfie trend is being coined by some smart lingerie companies, who distract data from female selfies, so similar bras can be ordered directly online. Again a Shazam-like virtual recognition software.
Alibaba even accelerated the selfie into a payment system to boost their already massive eCommerce figures.
When most retailers still assumed that the selfie was just another stupid, irrelevant internet meme, Alibaba proved to the world that facial recognition is more unique and trustworthy than our fingerprint.
See this 2014 keynote snippet to discover what 50% of my clients still say about the selfie, Alibaba, and eCommerce:
5. Smart algorithms are already helping several retailers to pick the right prospects (intelligent prospecting) and decide on the best price (individual dynamic pricing).
6. Showrooming retailers like Nordstrom have integrated their most popular items on Pinterest into their shopping windows to lure digital natives into their stores in the main shopping streets.
7. Beacons will close the loop in omnichannel strategies, but retailers need to keep pushing to get ‘Google analytics-like software’ in place. Measuring offline store traffic, ARPU, and customer ROI is a pillar in the foundation to build upon.
8. Virtual Reality was assumed to be a gimmick for gamers. VR however is a technology that can help retailers to extend their offline showrooms. Without paying for the super expensive square meters.
9. IoT will not only connect 50 billion apparatus, it will also give CMOs in retail access to 50 billion new consumer touchpoints. And thus fuel data-driven integrated digital retail marketing.
Digital disruption is changing retail forever. The speed of these changes, however, will surprise and shock us. So the only relevant question is: Are you innovating at the speed of change?
What can you do? Look differently to explore more.
Understanding the impact trends and new technologies will have on your business is key. No trends, no glory!
Remember, the only constant is change. Don’t hate, integrate. Change is an opportunity. Chaos is an opportunity.
What About You?
Which other trends and technologies will change the retail landscape forever? I’d love to read your ideas.
About the Author
In the spotlights, Igor Beuker is a professional public speaker and futurist known for his foresight on trends and technologies that impact business, economy, and society. Behind the scenes, a social entrepreneur with 5 exits and angel investments in 24 social startups, an award-winning marketing strategist for brands like Amazon, L’Oréal, Nike, and Unilever, and a seer for Fortune 500s, organizations, foundations, and governments.