As Dave Gilboa, Cofounder of Warby Parker said —
"we don’t think retail’s dead. We think mediocre retail is dead"
The tidal wave of digitisation has changed the way consumers search and shop for goods — they’re now consuming less while shopping across a multiplicity of channels, expecting a seamless and consistent experience simultaneously. Meanwhile innovative disruptors and online players claim an ever greater share of the market.
We’ve now reached a tipping point. Retailers need to rethink their strategy if they want to survive. It’s time to listen to ever-evolving consumer needs and respond quickly. Here’s a couple of examples of things we think are setting the bar in the retail industry.
With YouTube’s brand spanking new AR Beauty Try-On feature developed by FameBit, consumers can now try on products from their favourite brands without spending a penny. When users tap on Masthead and Trueview discovery ads on their Android and iOS devices, the YouTube interface divides. While one half continues to play the video, the other displays different shades of lipstick via the front camera.
A key barrier for not buying make-up is not knowing how it’ll look (as well as being put off by used testers in-store). The ability to try before you buy and then make a direct purchase is a progressive step for retail and in particular beauty brands, who can leverage data from the tool and gain key insights on which products are hot and which are… well, not.
We’ve all seen the comparison pictures on social media — a screenshot of how a garment looks on a model vs. how it looks on a disappointed consumer. It might be funny… but one of the key pain points from qualitative research we conducted in the past was that consumers can’t visualise how an item of clothing will look on them unless they’re a similar height, weight and shape as the model (which let’s be honest, isn’t many of us).
Israeli AR company, Zeekit launched a new tool ‘see my fit’ with ASOS that displays the same item on user-selected models of various shapes and sizes, so shoppers can see how something will actually look on them. ‘See my fit’ will not only hopefully help ASOS forecast better due to less returns, but also promotes inclusivity and acceptance. We like that.
There’s nothing worse than a shop not having your size or style in stock. Enter Darkstore, a service which exploits excess capacity in storage facilities, malls and bodegas, transforming them into fulfillment centers with just a smartphone. Brands without local inventory can keep their stock in a Darkstore, and ship it out on the very same day the consumer requests it.
While Amazon accounted for a large slice of e-commerce sales in 2017, many companies are trying to cut ties with the middleman as they seek new ways to keep prices down by selling directly to their customers. Darkstore means companies take the profit of their sales, are less at risk of comparison with their competition (as is the case on platforms like Amazon), and most importantly… the customer is no longer left disappointed.
Skincare company Curology, now heading into its sixth year, combines tech with beauty to help give consumers the clear complexion they long for. Dr. Lortscher, a dermatologist, realised consumers were struggling with long appointment wait times, expensive dermatology care, expensive products and something that should be easy (skincare) felt like a huge chore.
Curology is a subscription service that gives users a bespoke skincare plan tailored to them. All users have to do is take a photo of their skin and fill out a skin survey. Curology then mixes ingredients you can’t get off the shelf to create custom formulas for their users, continuing treatment over time based on progress photos — all for $20 a month. Who said dermatological grade skin care wasn’t for everyone?
Using AI in traditional advertising strategies will be a waste. It needs to be put to better use in order to help and improve how brands connect with their customers by putting their consumers first and providing them with meaningful experiences that they actually want.