Startups Spotlight: Holograms Are Coming to a Store Near You
If you think holograms are a thing of the future, then the future has arrived. Innovative companies are developing solutions that leverage holographic displays to attract and engage distracted customers. Another startup is riding the customization bandwagon to deliver perfectly fitting denim, while still others are offering ways to improve your loyalty program, make in-store checkout as painless as possible, and deliver consumer insights that are fresh — not five months old.
How can you grab customers’ attention in a world cluttered with ads and promotions? For ProVision, the answer is: a hologram. The 3D media company has partnered with the likes of Google, Intel, IBM and Honeywell to deliver an experience that aims to attract customers at the point of decision: the store. Its holographic displays, encased in a kiosk system, project images of brands’ products to entice customers to make a purchase. The system monitors customer demographics and can adjust promotions accordingly. Brands benefit by collecting anonymous information on the kinds of shoppers redeeming their offers and customers gain by receiving a coupon for a promoted product.
Retail customers ranging from TGI Friday’s to McDonald’s have piloted ProVision technology. TGI Friday’s used the HoloVision 3D floating display in its bar areas to encourage patrons to order more drinks. The results? Increased traffic to the bar area. What’s more, customers reported that they would more likely remember a brand or special drink that was promoted in the 3D display (100%), said the ads were entertaining (97%), found the ads enhanced the overall experience (88%) and would recommend the restaurant to friends based solely on the 3D ads (61%).
It’s no secret that retailers are seeking to differentiate their in-store experience. Adding holographic displays seem to be a smart way to surprise and delight customers and make a lasting impression while creating value for both brands and shoppers alike.
Savvy small retailers that have outgrown paper punchcards and other outdated loyalty approaches might want to take a look at flok. This software startup takes loyalty digital but goes many steps further by including robust features and capabilities such as push promotions, social media integration and customer acquisition by sending enticing rewards to targeted users. The flok platform enables retailers to engage customers via chat by asking them to rate their store visit or just leave a note saying hello.
The company also offers a beacon so that retail customers can identify customers as they enter the store and track their visits over time.
Flok offers different tiers of services based on your business’s needs, making it easy to try out the service and scale as necessary.
Powr of You
If you’re ever concerned that your customer insights are too many months old to be truly useful, Powr of You solves that problem by bringing you up-to-the-minute research on consumers’ online behavior. Powr of You’s Saas analytics solution works across any number of channels, from social and mobile to regular PCs and even lifestyle and fitness apps and devices to fully capture the customer journey. Retail companies that leverage Powr of You are empowered to make smarter decisions about media and marketing.
No one likes standing in line to check out, especially when the queue grows maddeningly long (and you only have a few things in your basket). Startup Skip has created what it hopes is a truly seamless and smarter shopping experience. The Skip app enables users to scan each item along the way and track the transaction total as they shop so there are no surprises when it comes time to pay. What’s more, the app helps shoppers save time and find products efficiently by reorganizing their premade shopping lists according to aisle when users enter the store, eliminating the need to criss-cross the store multiple times searching in vain for an elusive item or trying to find a store associate who can help. But the pièce de résistance is that Skip features in-app payment with a stored credit card, meaning users can “skip” the traditional checkout line and simply allow a staff member in a dedicated express checkout lane to quickly review the digital receipt prior to exiting the store.
This is the kind of experience many customers, especially the younger Millennial set, dream of: it is seamless and efficient, improves the shopping experience, and saves time. It reduces the need to find a store associate and ask where a product is located. Shoppers can get in and out of the store faster. Skip holds the potential to improve a store’s brand image. A Pennsylvania grocery store, Gerrity’s, was the first retailer to pilot Skip earlier this year.
Fit remains a pain point for many apparel retailers and recent years have yielded many a startup aiming to solve this problem, especially as consumers migrate in droves to online shopping. ZipFit is the latest company to tackle fit. Its fit finder (currently available only for men, women’s coming soon) invites shoppers to tell ZipFit about their body measurements — waist and inseam — as well as whether their torso, posterior, thighs and calves are short/small, average or long. The fit finder also asks shoppers about how they like their jeans to fit. Do you prefer a tapered ankle or flared? Should your denim fit snugly through the thighs? Once all of that information is entered, the fit finder spits out the brands — from Citizens of Humanity and AG to 7 for all Mankind to Paige — that are the best match for what you need. ZipFit goes a step further by including tailoring, shipping and returns for free (yes, even tailored jeans can be returned at no cost to the customer). You can also consult a fit expert one-on-one if you need help determining your measurements or have questions.
ZipFit combines two important aspects: offering trusted designer brands that consumers already know and love and including customization, which means shoppers don’t have to waste time and additional money taking their jeans to their tailor. With a greater likelihood of achieving an ideal fit, ZipFit seems poised to draw repeat customers and keep return rates low (a bane for every online retailer).
Mass merchandiser giant launches ‘perks’ program
Target shoppers will be doing real cartwheels next time they launch their discount app.
The mass merchandiser quietly launched an experimental loyalty program that allows shoppers to rack up points during store visits. Called “redperks” on the company’s website, the program rewards Target shoppers with 10 points for every dollar spent in stores. Once shoppers hit 5,000 points, they can choose their reward.
The program, accessible through Target’s Cartwheel mobile app, is being tested in four markets: San Diego, Denver, Houston and St. Louis markets, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.
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Report: Amazon claims top spot in social ranking
The real retailer winners are those that truly “listen” to their customers, and then use learned details to motivate consumers to shop.
By perfecting this practice, Amazon.com has earned the highest amount of mentions and awareness across social networks, and Tiffany & Co. was the most passionately and positively discussed brand.
These findings are based on “The 2016 NetBase Retail Brands Report,” which monitored more than 430 million social posts to gauge how closely the world’s leading retail brands are listening to new and existing customers on social media, and what brands can learn from social to successfully drive sales. Based on conversations across the social Web, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and millions of other sources between July 28, 2015 and July 27, 2016, the report measures the volume of conversation, awareness through impressions, reach, net sentiment and brand passion.
The brands were broken into the following categories: pharmacy and convenience stores, discount, big-box, e-commerce, clothing, luxury, shoes, athletic, department store, grocery and office supply.
“The holy grail is leveraging what you learn online – such as what really motivates your audience to click and purchase – and translating these findings into monetary return on investment [ROI] for your business,” said Paige Leidig, CMO at NetBase.
With overall net sentiment of posts hitting 58%, and a 69% passion index, consumers display a mixed bag of emotions and attitude toward the retail industry. Amazon is the most-loved retail brand when it comes to best connecting and engaging with their customers, followed by Nike and Best Buy.
However, the retail behemoth and its footwear counterpart still has some work to do when it comes to measuring passion. Zappos has more passionate customers than both companies, despite having smaller volume of conversation, the report said.
From a category perspective, luxury retail, discount and e-commerce ranked highest on the brand passion index, a point revealing that consumers are most positively engaged with brands in these categories. However, department stores and big-box retailers lead in social mentions, owning 39% and 35% of the conversation, respectively.
When looking at what categories as a whole are most loved, luxury retailers, discount retailers and e-commerce brands lead the pack. Conversely, department stores (37%), grocery (36%) and office supply (30%) ranked lowest on the brand passion index, which looks at sentiment of posts compared to their passion intensity. This illustrates that they have the most to learn from listening to customers across social networks, the report summarized.
“It’s clear that some brands are doing a much better job than others when it comes to meeting customer expectations regarding products or customer service,” said Leidig. “Wherever they stand, each retail brand has the opportunity to leverage social analytics to better understand their customers’ wants, dislikes and desires to best cater to their needs.”