2019 continues to blur the boundaries around the omnichannel. Experience-based retail boomed as people were driven to stores that did more than just sell a product. Whether it was for social shares, engaged ethics or even an immersive event, this year has proved that while traditional retail may be dead, brick and mortar stores are still as culturally relevant as ever.
In April 2017 we began to track the humanising retail trend, as
“...experience itself is a human concept. Retailers can push boundaries by exploring the differences between digital and human”.
This has expanded to brands using technology to reach the consumer on a personalised and individual level, seamlessly integrating it into the shopping experience.
Future X helped Japanese brand SK II created a popup in which tech helps ‘redefine the relationship between humans and skincare. Determined to keep the narrative on the person, visitors used a proprietary skin can that can analyse skin without even touching it. In a photo-booth style construct, customised advice and recommendations were given – the consumer unaware of the sophisticated tech behind the consultation.
Some-what surprisingly, tech can be a great way to complement a human-centric shopping experience. Whether it’s using AI to create accurate metrics or creating an interactive touchpoint that helps engage consumers, tech can enhance the human approach to retail, connecting consumers with products on a deeper level.
Fashion retailer Ruti, recently opened a new flagship in New York, utilising facial recognition in a new SOHO flagship. Tracking shoppers faces, the system logs purchasing habits, offering real-time recommendations to sales assistants who take an individualistic approach. Far from a sci-fi eccentric retail, the space is minimal, with suede seating and analogue touches, creating a human-centric approach enhanced by technology.
At a talk on technology in retail, Treatwell founder Lopo Champalimaud understands that
“Harnessing technology in the beauty industry frees up room for creativity, leaving logistical work and administration to the tech”.
Understanding consumer behaviour is indicative of how we look at strategy and design in retail. Gauging trends, analysing patterns and understanding a brands narrative is key to establishing an experience which makes the consumer keep coming back. With 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience and 9 out of 10 businesses competing to win over the shopper, it’s companies that invest in the human that will win the loyalty of consumers and shoppers alike.
Throughout Covid-19, the beauty industry has stepped up for its community and will continue to forge forward and reimagine the way we connect, commune and care for each other.
In a time of crisis, brands have a genuine role to play. Brands must show responsibility to their consumers, their employees and communities as they navigate uncertain times. Is a time for collective effort and creativity. It is a time for ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’.