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Springwise is an innovation firm that scans the competitive landscape for promising new business ideas.  The company relies on a network of over 15,000 “spottesr” to send in new and interesting business ideas for the company to review.  Some of Springwise’s most surprising and unique findings come from the world of retail.  Springwise’s categorization of retail includes everything from supply chain to point of sale promotions.  Based on Springwise’s analysis of current spottings, the company developed a top ten list of retail innovations that it believes will change the landscape of traditional retailing.

1) A jeans store that uses QR codes to make shopping easier for men.   At Hointer in Seattle, customers can scan a code on jeans and have the desired size delivered directly to the dressing room without any sales associate interaction.  The process is streamlined so customers don’t have to wade through piles of clothes to find their size.

2) Facebook app lets runners pay with kilometers completed. Nike Mexico developed a Facebook auction called Subasta de Kilometros that allows runners to accrue points for every kilometer they run.  These points can then be used to bid on Nike merchandise through an online auction.

3) In China, virtual reality stores turn open spaces into supermarkets.  Yihaodian, a retailer in China, developed augmented reality stores that can only be accessed in certain locations.  When customers point their smartphones at specific public spots like a public square, a virtual store is displayed with items on shelves and walls engaging the customers in a more interactive, online shopping experience.

4) In Denmark, supermarket crowdsources suggestions for local products. SuperBrugsen in Denmark has created a unique concept for ensuring that it stocks merchandise that appeals to its eco-minded customers.  Through the SuperBrugsen website, customers can suggest particular items that it wants to store to stock.  Managers then use a taste-test to approve the product’s quality.

5) Mobile app lets retail store shoppers skip the checkout line.  QThru developed an app that allows shoppers to browse items, scan them, and purchase them all through their phone.  Skipping lines appeals to many time-sensitive customers.

6) Brazilian fashion retailer displays Facebook ‘likes’ for items in its real-world stores. C&A, a Brazilian retailer, displays Facebook ‘likes’ on small screens displayed on item hangers.  The retailers show the increasing tally of ‘likes’ that different items of clothing receive from web users.

7) Machine accepts cards for tips.  More customers are using credit or debit cards for purchases now, leaving them with less cash for tips.  DipJar offers customers an easy way to tip by placing a machine near cash registers where customers can just swipe their card to leave a $1.00 tip.  If a customer wants to leave more, he/she just swipes their card the desired amount of times.

8) Calming UK store campaign includes quiet shopping areas and debranded products.  Selfridges is a large UK department store.  In order to reduce the stress and anxiety of chaotic shopping times, Selfridges is introducing the No Noise campaign.  When customers enter the designated silent areas, they have to remove their shoes and turn in their cell phones.

9) In New York, bedroom furniture store lets customers nap for free.  COCO-MAT, a NYC retailer, offers customers a try-before-you-buy option for bedroom furniture.  Visitors to the store are allowed to nap in beds for several hours and even receive a free glass of juice.  There is no obligation to buy.

10) At a Brazilian retailer, RFID tracks merchandise from manufacturer to customer.  Brazilian Memove’s RFID technology involves stitching tags to clothing that monitor the clothing all the way from the manufacturer’s floor to when the consumer walks out of the store.  This allows retailers to more accurately track inventory.

Discussion Questions:

1. What kinds of innovations are retailers using to engage customers?

2. Do any of these innovations sound interesting to you?  Can you see other retailers offering similar innovations?


SOURCE: Chris Kreinczes, Forbes.com, May 9, 2013