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IL2012: Retail & Technology Trends

Oct - 23 - 2012
Nicole C. Engard

Up first for me this morning is a talk about baseball and shopping! :)

Seriously though, the speakers were from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and were talking to us about parallels between retail and libraries and what we can learn from the retail industry.

Consumers have changed! People are using mobile devices while in stores today. We’re scanning barcodes and checking prices online to find the greatest deal while in the store. This scares retailers (with good reason). This empowers the consumer and makes them need advertising less to make decisions. We’re using the Internet to research our purchases now.

The decision making process has changed from a funnel …

to a more of a loop (according to the Harvard Business Review) …

This change is primarily because of millennials and those of us using the Internet in the palm of our hands to shop. Retailers are paying attention to this. Shopping is now done in many new/different ways:

  • Ecommerce
  • M-Commerce (mobile)
  • Web-nflueced sales
  • cross channel commerce
  • shopping 3.0
  • Omni-channel retailing

So, retailers are getting more in to social experiences with shopping. Tools that the speakers mentioned included: Pinterest, Milo, Yelp, and Shopkick.

Another way retailers are responding to these changes is in the design of their physical stores. Target now has city versions that are smaller to fit in urban spaces – many retailers are doing this now. Swivel is a completely virtual dressing room where you pick what you want to try on from a screen and see what it looks like on you (I personally don’t know how much I’d trust something like this … and I kinda like to feel the clothes on me and in my hands). Another new style of store is the “pop up store” and libraries are doing this kind of thing as well. San Francisco PL has pop up libraries and Projekt Ingeborg puts up QR codes around town (if I understood right) that link to open access content.

Something else we’re seeing in stores is augmented reality. You can try on an outfit, stand in front of a mirror and it will show you the outfit in different colors. Topshop partnered with Kinect to let you stand in front of the mirror and see yourself in different outfits.

When it comes to hand held devices, users are looking for apps, not mobile websites, they want easy one click access to content. We’re also looking for tools that let us store all of our cards on our mobile device and simply scan our phones in the store to make purchases or use our loyalty cards (it would be great to do the same thing with our library cards).

Some stores doing neat things include Neiman Marcus (touch screen device that will tell you more about the product), Macys (the endless aisle that shows you items that are not actually in the store), and Warby Parker (does pop up shops that have computers that scan your face and recommend glasses for your face shape).

The key is personalization and interactivity. Amazon recommendations has been around forever, but is a good example of this. An example of this in libraryland is BookPyschic from the Portland Public Library and LibraryThing. Other cool library innovations include the Type-Truck, augmented reality apps (in museums let you see more info on art or show you pieces not in the museum), makerspaces, Art House Co-op, ShelvAR, and DIY History.


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