POWER TO THE CUSTOMER

This week we take a look at the latest solutions for getting the best out of your digital retail experience, featuring the latest answer to Google Glass, magic mirrors, a new app and (of course) Apple Pay!

Smart glasses are back in town The death of smart glasses has been greatly exaggerated. We tested Google Glass before, but the new smart glasses from Epson are the real deal for retail. The well-loved online music store Dawsons has just upgraded their click-to-talk to a click-to-live-demo, using a tool created by a new London start-up GoInStore. Dawsons’ gurus are all experienced musicians, and when you click on the ‘Go In Store’ icon in the online shop it takes you to an expert in-store who is wearing the Epson Moverio glasses with built-in camera. The guru can do a real-time demo for customers, respond to requests, demonstrate sounds and talk you through the benefits of each instrument. All you need at home is a decent Internet connection (we tested at 512 kbps), speakers with (ideally) headphones and a standard browser. It’s possible to see the demo on your mobile, but using a laptop makes the experience better. Google, eat your heart out! (For enquiries to join pilots for other retail categories, get in touch on Twitter @EvaPascoe)

Mirror mirror on the wall… which bra has the best reviews of them all? If you hate dark lighting in fitting rooms, you can now tap on the interactive screen and chose a different light, music and mood. The sexiest lingerie brand in Europe, Hunkemöller, has a screen in their Dusseldorf flagship store’s fitting room that puts the customer in charge of the experience, acknowledging that a different ambience is needed when you’re trying on the latest push-up gym bra (don’t even ask) versus something more racy from their ‘Private Collection’. Digital screens with proximity sensors that spray perfume, as well as a large interactive in-store screen that lets you browse customers’ reviews and social media-led suggestions, complete the sensual experience. What can we say – lucky German ladies!

Relationship advice for Instagram Instagram and retail are still uneasy partners. When you actually find a product on Instagram that you love and click on it, it tends to take you on a wild goose chase – from landing on the brand app, where there is no indication whatsoever where the product you like is actually hiding (you know who you are Mr Retailer), to finding yourself on a generic New Arrivals page with no trace of what you were initially drawn to. Come on people, it’s not rocket science! Banana Republic is the best for getting customers from the product to the page in the minimum number of clicks using StylePick.it (it’s still too many but at least it shows they care…). Also, if your product is out of stock just be a good brand and delete it from Instagram. There is really no point getting us excited only to reveal, after eight clicks, that the size and colour options from the original photo are long gone.

Shop ’til you drop Do you remember the last time a friend told you to install a new app and it turned out to be a good idea? Neither do we. Apart from social network apps, packing your mobile with a “litter of apps” (our own collective noun for apps) is just not working out. That being said…you’ll want to download Mobile Scan & Go from Sainsbury’s and move to London Colney just to try it! You scan your shopping on your mobile, pack your purchases as you go and keep a running total of exactly how much you’ve spent and how much you’ve saved on offers. When done, you can pay at a dedicated area in-store – either on your mobile and then you collect a receipt, or as normal at a self-checkout. It’s effortless and really helps customers to focus on available deals, so Sainsbury’s has promised to extend the pilot to more locations. Warning – no bankers allowed as the service isn’t supported on Blackberry or Windows phones…

Stranded on the Tube Apple Pay’s road to retail nirvana is not exactly paved with roses. We got caught on the London Underground a couple of times when the phone died and there was no way to touch out. However, apart from Fear-Of-Going-Off-Grid and being out of pocket by £8.80 (merciless Transport for London will charge you the maximum amount), the Apple Pay roll out in the UK is going better than expected. The reason is that Apple is only levying a small fee on each purchase from the banks involved and isn’t intending to charge any merchants, developers or customers for using the service. Good call. For us, the Wagamama paying experience has improved magnificently. Let us know if Apple Pay is working for you?