TRACK OR BE TRACKED

The tracking and the tracked – is it all fair in love and shopping? In this week’s [retail bytes] we take a look at the hottest developments in retail technology.

Broadcast (and shop) yourself As YouTube continues to grow, the much-loved video sharing website is moving to kick butt as a global e-commerce player. It’s now encouraging us to buy directly from the ads we reluctantly watch (unless you use AdBlock Plus). Inevitably, YouTube will soon also introduce a ‘Buy’ button on its mobile service. Whether an opportunity or an annoyance, 1 billion people on the planet watch 4 videos a day, so even if only 1% of them decides to buy a product this is an enormous market. Be ready.

Target hits the bull’s-eye Retail giant Target is leading the way in the U.S. by helping customers to do their own stock check. Click-and-collect (or Free To Store as it is increasingly called) requires a much tighter control on stock to avoid customer disappointment and offer a seamless experience. RFID (radio frequency identification) labels on each garment pin down its location without any guessing. The wonders of technology!

Did you hear that? Amazon Echo has just had an upgrade- not only can it find items in your order history, but if the item is out of stock it will suggest a similar style from Amazon’s extensive range. And don’t worry – it will pick the products that come with the best reviews, prices AND Prime shipping. Try it – ask Amazon Echo to order nappies from your preferred brand. If they’re out of stock your Amazon Echo says, “I didn’t find that in your order history, but Amazon’s choice for nappies is ‘X’. The order total is $X. Should I order it?” Now THIS is what we call service!

LEDs light the way iBeacons live to fight another day in the form of indoor GPS. Philips has found an ingenious way to pop a sensor into LED bulbs, using them to help customers navigate large stores. You can look up where are candles or craft beer are located and the internal LED-light based GPS will direct you to the item of your choice. You still need an app to read the directions, but the store will find it easier to manage the power and battery changes if they are part of the lighting system. Smart Dutch thinking.

Minority Report Want to know if a retailer is tracking you in store? You’re not the only one, 8 out of 10 shoppers expressed a dislike of being tracked. However, iris scanning technology has just improved massively, allowing ID recognition from about 40 feet away. This means every store, should they chose to, can track and identify each customer. The law is catching up slowly, but for now beware.