#TRPRETAILSAFARI with Kega

Kega is one of the leading retail technology organisations in the Netherlands, if not Europe. Offering innovative omnichannel solutions as part of a 360° view of the retail customer experience, they’re well positioned to give us insights into what works (and doesn’t!) in the world of retail innovations and technology. They took us on a retail safari of Amsterdam to show us some examples…

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The first stop was the Heineken brand store – and you’d be forgiven for thinking a leprechaun got his hands on this place! Everything – and we mean absolutely everything – is Heineken green, and the store also offers brand aficionados every possible kind of merchandise you could conceive, from beer (obviously) to bikinis. Separate to the Heineken Experience, the store is more of a fun place to purchase limited edition bottles, try to score some goals in their mini football area, and play table football, too! If only every store had games to entertain us…

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Next stop, the Dutch answer to Whole Foods Market – Marqt (with a ‘q’). Nothing unusual about the concept, then, but what we did notice is their old school approach to customer feedback. On a noticeboard, as you leave the store, customers can fill in little forms with comments, suggestions, and really anything they feel like saying, and post it to the wall (…physical Facebook?). On their next visit they’ll be able to read any answers from the store manager. Cute!

Now here’s a brand we all know – Marks & Spencer. Having tested, backed out of, and then re-entered the market (similar to their foray in Paris), they’ve set up a pretty small shop in the city centre. About ¾ of floor space is given to food (no surprise here..), but what is interesting is the clothing concept they’ve used to deal with the lack of stock space. Initially, I’m told, it had a showroom approach with one of each style on display and customers being able to order via the touchscreens you can see in the image (they look like giant iPhones!). However, this didn’t really work – customers were picking up clothing and wanting to try them on, which wasn’t possible. Now they’ve put in a solitary changing room as a solution, which was being used when we visited. Unfortunately, the screens didn’t work. Great.

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 Next on the list – a retailer that I think would do very well in the UK market – every.day.counts. The product, and shop fit, has a much more high-end feel than the price tags, but what we really wanted to see were the changing rooms…

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This brand knows exactly who they’re catering to – millennials. In the changing room you’re able to pick mood lighting (festival, anyone?), take a selfie, summon a sales assistant and sign up to their newsletter. Unfortunately none of the functions worked in any of the three changing rooms, save one solitary bulb that turned green when I selected the ‘green’ lighting option. *sigh* It clearly wasn’t a good day for technology in Amsterdam.

IMG_8658Last, but not least, was Chasin’ in the trendy Nine Streets area. Kega actually developed the in-store technology for this retailer, so we had high hopes that all would run smoothly. It actually ended up being the only store that delivered on its retail promises! The store has also adopted a showroom approach due to limited floor space, and one wall is a giant panel of screens that can alternate between showing a promotional video feature and previewing the garments. Being handed an iPad, I was able to select which look I would like to see, and then the model would walk on to the screen (larger than life!) and strut about, showing off the overall look and details of the clothing. Delicious. To the right I was shown the products, which I could click on to zoom in. Unfortunately I couldn’t purchase directly from this preview – I’d need to get the sales assistant to deal with that. No matter – I must’ve previewed every look they had to offer, as I spent quite some time swiping around on the iPad. Retailers? Eat your heart out.

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