Retail Experience Democratization

Democratization of Retail: This Shift Just Got Real

With immediate access to information through technology and the growth of competitive options, shoppers are more empowered than ever. Retail is going through a democratizing shift, giving customers a say when it comes to retail experience.

They have two particular expectations: brand accessibility and unique, entertaining experiences.

Smart retailers are already embracing the democratization phenomenon and effectively transforming their brand perceptions by providing customers with unique, sensory experiences that reach beyond the typical display of merchandise. These retailers are giving customers the opportunity to immerse themselves in their products, while making deeper connections with their brands in both brick and mortar stores and digital channels.

Here are two great examples:

Experience the Great Outdoors – in Stores

Last year, the outdoor apparel company, The North Face, used virtual reality to transport shoppers into beautiful remote landscapes. It sent shoppers in its U.S. flagship stores on virtual expeditions of trekking and rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, California and Moab Park, Utah.

Democratization of Retail Experience

In its South Korean stores, customers experienced the thrill of dog sled racing in the South Pole while trying on the newest apparel.

From the comfort of its brick-and-mortar locations, The North Face gave shoppers. who would have never explored these epic activities otherwise, an adventure of a lifetime.

It also built up excitement and allowed outdoor enthusiasts the chance to wear and test its latest gear in virtual environments before actually heading into the great outdoors.

As a result, The North Face presented customers with a unique, entertaining and memorable in-store experience they couldn’t get anywhere else, setting the retailer apart from its competitors.

Most importantly, customers experienced these incredible journeys, whether they were outdoorsy or not. The North Face successfully made its outdoor brand accessible to everyone.

Smart retailers are already embracing the democratization phenomenon and effectively transforming their brand perceptions

Now You See It, Tomorrow They Won’t

Also in 2015, the iconic British fashion brand, Burberry gave its customers a chance to preview its new spring 2016 line a day before it hit the runway. It made the collection available to its followers on Snapchat, the video and photo messaging app that allows users to broadcast content for up to 24 hours.

Burberry later followed up with another Snapchat experience, revealing its new advertising campaign as it was being photographed in real time. Burberry provided shoppers with two innovative social experiences, making the luxury brand accessible.

By choosing Snapchat, Burberry created a youthful energy, leveraged a “don’t miss” sense of urgency, and responded to the need for immediate gratification. It additionally built excitement around shopping in its stores, where Snapchat users could try on the items they “saw first” in real life.

There has been a shift in retail power to today’s smart shopper. As technology evolves, so will shoppers’ expectations. It is important for retailers to pay attention and adapt to the constantly changing trends that keep customers interested and excited about brands.

Currently, customers care more about experiences they can talk about than they do about accumulating merchandise. Consistently providing customers with accessible, personalized, and unique experiences in all retail channels, physical stores as well as digital environments, is what sets retailers apart from their competitors, builds brand loyalty, and influences repeat purchases.

VIDEO: RBM Technologies and SAP talk about future of mobile retail at Mobile World Congress

RBM Technologies’ strategic partnership with SAP brings leading cloud technology to the telco and wireless retail industry over the past 10 years. RBM’s solutions with visual merchandising, planogram automation, precise merchandise assortment execution and mobile in-store compliance solutions are featured SAP’s booth at Mobile World Congress this week. SAP and RBM Technologies’ Dan Wittner speak on the future of mobile retail and personalizing the customer experience.

Showrooming retail store, shopper marketing

NRF: The 3 New Rules of Retail Merchandising

In a panel discussion at Retail’s BIG Show, LVMH North America’s Gena Smith, Nordstroms Rack’s Paige Thomas sat down with HSN’s Sandy Soto speaking about the increase of challenges retailers face in bringing newness and inspiration to the shopping experience. These challenges have put new pressures on the retail merchandising department, where concerns lied mostly with product selection and visual presentation. Today, the top merchandising position has broader accountability and is heavily involved with talent development, change management and customer experience.

Here are 3 new rules of retail merchandising discussed by the panel and written up by NRF.com:

LETTING CUSTOMERS SHOP ON THEIR OWN TERMS

ENCOURAGING DIGITAL DISCOVERY, IN-STORE AND ONLINEWe’ve seen that customers want to shop on their own terms nowadays, and as a retailer or brand you need to respect that,” PSFK Labs’ Scott Lachut said. That’s the thinking behind a push to bring shopping cart functionality to every online experience, from “buy” buttons on Twitter,image recognition features within apps andstreamlined purchasing from social mediaand mobile. The option to reserve products online for in-store or curbside pickup helps stores like Gap and Walmart give customers more control over delivery, too.NRF_merchandising_twitter

Smart multichannel retailers not only encourage customers to look up product information on mobile devices, but find thoughtful ways to bring digital features to the retail environment, adding a useful layer of information over the “real world” shopping experience. House of Fraser is testing beacons inside mannequins that let shoppers access information and special offers for the products on display. ModiFace’s appgenerates personalized skincare recommendations by analyzing hundreds of photos from a shopper’s linked Facebook account. And Neiman Marcus’ memory mirror helps “shoppers short-circuit the process of trying on, and re-trying on, clothes.”

ENCOURAGING DIGITAL DISCOVERY, IN-STORE AND ONLINE

Smart multichannel retailers not only encourage customers to look up product information on mobile devices, but findNRF_modiface_in-store_experience_merchandising_multichannel thoughtful ways to bring digital features to the retail environment, adding a useful layer of information over the “real world” shopping experience. House of Fraser is testing beacons inside mannequins that let shoppers access information and special offers for the products on display. ModiFace’s app generates personalized skincare recommendations by analyzing hundreds of photos from a shopper’s linked Facebook account. And Neiman Marcus’ memory mirror helps “shoppers short-circuit the process of trying on, and re-trying on, clothes.”

DESIGNING DESTINATIONS AND COMMUNITIES

What does the store do, beyond just selling things? PSFK Founder and President Piers Fawkes says the future belongs to retailers that transact in culture, experiences and relationships. Stores become hubs for communities of like-minded consumers, with services and experiences beyond products. Club Monaco’s Manhattan flagship store is home to a bookstore and coffee shop; Urban Outfitters’ Herald Square concept store offers salon services, bike repairs and Instagram photo Warby_parker_retail_merchandisingprinting. Warby Parker takes it a step further with a unique theme at each new location — retro classroom décor in Dallas, a photo studio in Chicago and a reading nook in San Francisco.

Thomas noted that forecasting data drives decisions at Nordstrom Rack, but every time the company spot-checks a forecast, they realize customers are evolving even faster than they thought. “Even when we’re being aggressive, it’s not fast enough.”  

To stay ahead of consumers, Smith says general merchandising managers and their teams need to understand and appreciate how quickly technology is changing and channels are converging. What’s more, Smith says, cultural sensitivity and an awareness of what’s going on around the world — not just in selected markets — is also critical in retail. It takes more than tech skills to bring “Future of Retail” ideas to life; merchandising teams must also have a deep understanding of how customers are living their lives.

Watch These Shoppers Freak Out When The Floor of This The North Face Store Disappears

Shoppers in Korea got quite the scare as they unassumingly browsed the goods in aThe North Face store recently. As part of a stunt that was put together by The North Face and South Korean marketing agency Innored, unsuspecting customers were forced to put their survival instincts to the test when the floor below them suddenly started giving way, all in the name of the brand’s motto, “Never Stop Exploring.”

While people casually shopped, the racks of clothing suddenly began rising to the ceiling and the floor started to shift, eventually disappearing into the walls and forcing customers to either hang on to the rock-climbing holds or fall into a padded pit. A North Face jacket attached to a wire then dropped from the ceiling, hanging in the middle and kicking off a timer, challenging customers to climb the wall and leap to snatch the dangling item. A few people freaked out, others just looked straight-up confused. Either way, the reactions were pretty hilarious.

This isn’t the first time The North Face has engaged in experiential marketing tactics. Last year, it placed huge ice sculptures in high-traffic areas around Paris as a means to promote new stores opening in the city. “Consumers are used to comfortable city lives and are losing their natural strengths,” The North Face said about the “Never Stop Exploring” campaign. “Based on this brand philosophy, North Face Korea induces customers to face an unexpected challenge and encourages them to overcome the situation with their own strength in order to begin their journey to explore.”

Looks like people are willing to go way out of their comfort zones when free outerwear is involved.

[via Adweek]

Verizon Wireless Launches Interactive “Smart Stores”

Verizon Wireless is reinventing the traditional in-store experience with the transformation of their 1,700 stores to “Smart Stores. The store concept is set to provide an engaging, hands-on environment to better serve, and most importantly educate customers on how to integrate technology into their daily lifestyle.

After listening to customer feedback, Verizon is integrating real-life situations into the store setting, enhancing the learning and purchasing experience for customers as they can relate to in-store exhibits. Verizon envisions each customer leaves completely satisfied and educated on how everyday activities can become simplified and enjoyable through the connection of their mobile devices.

Here are some new experiences you’ll see at a Verizon Smart Store:

1) Hosted Wireless Workshops —the free, fun hour-long classes help customers understand how to get the most out of their iPhone, Android, and Tablets.

2) Elimination of traditional store layout – no more counters and browsing through a wide selection of products.

3) Zone dedicated to showcasing lifestyles, such as fitness, music, home monitoring and mobile for businesses.

verizon_smartstores_merchandising Image from bizjournal

Smarter Store Operations 

Smart Stores will be managed more efficiently with in-store technology. Appropriate employee scheduling and new training material will be shared during store meeting sessions—reducing customer wait-time. Bill payment kiosks installed will give customers a convenient way to pay their bills into store without help from a store representative. Verizon Wireless is also up-to-date on the latest fashion!  The employees’ wardrobe has been revamped and features diverse gear that allows them to personalize their look to reflect their individual style. 

“Creating the best customer experience – at every touch point – is our goal as we reinvent retail,” said Domenico D’Ambrosio, executive director national retail operations at Verizon Wireless.

Meet the 5 retail entrepreneurs featured in this year’s INC’s 35 under 35

Featured in this year’s INC’s 35 under 35 Entrepreneurs are five extraordinary retail entrepreneurs that are changing the future of retail!

See them below from the article:

Meet Estimote 

Krzych, 32, and Kostka, 26, are the co-founders of the New York City-based beacon maker Estimote. The company’s beacons–palm-size waterproof wireless sensors–transmit data to your smartphone by using Bluetooth low-energy radio signals. Since the two Polish computer scientists founded Estimote in 2012, they have sold more than 20,000 beacons ($99 for a set of three) to developers and companies that have been building their own apps to engage customers through their smartphones. 

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**Image taken from INC.com

Krzych says they realized the size of the opportunity in retail through data and taking a look at how customers buy products in-store and online: “We understand our physical world is at least 10 times bigger than the Internet,” Krzych says. “If you think about it, 95 percent of all transactions in business are still happening in the physical world. So everything that happens on eBay, Amazon, and Facebook are only five percent of all transactions across the world.”

With a list of 20,000 different customers–from huge U.S. and European retailers to museums, hospitals, schools, and public transportation systems–some tasks will become obsolete, Krzych says. When you walk into a restaurant, the menu will pop up as you take a seat. A stroll through New York City’s Museum of Modern Art might prompt your phone to deliver information about each painting you see. Eventually, your home will react to your presence; the door will unlock as you turn the knob and lock behind you as the lights, air conditioner, and TV turn on.

http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/35-under-35-estimote-aims-to-give-smartphones-context.html

Meet Everlane 

In the fall of 2010, a then 25-year-old Michael Preysman left his job in venture capital to start his own business. He never expected to work in fashion, but a passion for great design and frustration with the lack of innovation in the retail space, led him to build Everlane. He hasn’t looked back.

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**Image taken from INC.com

It’s no secret that retailers mark up their products by eight or 10 times what it costs to produce them. But no one has really done anything about it–until now, that is.

Enter Everlane, an online retailer that sells its line of minimalist clothing and accessories (think simple white T-shirts and leather tote bags) directly to consumers at a markup of just double what it costs to produce. Beyond peddling the latest in affordable fashion, however, Everlane practices “radical transparency,” which means that in addition to price and thread count, Everlane shoppers will see the care instructions, the height of the model pictured, and the product’s origins. Here’s the 50-cent tour of the factory behind Everlane’s $60 Seed Stitch U-Neck sweater:

By exposing its own production and pricing process, Everlane hopes to strike a cord with consumers who want more information, from how free their free-range chickens are to the amount of water wasted in the production of their yogurt.

http://www.inc.com/diana-ransom/35-under-35-everlane-and-its-radical-idea-of-fashion.html

Meet Shopify

Sometimes the best business ideas come from solutions to temporary problems.

So it was for Tobias Lütke and Daniel Weinand, who inadvertently co founded Shopify in 2004 because they wanted to sell snowboards and other winter gear from their online shop in Ottawa.

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**Image taken from INC.com

Both computer engineers from Germany, Lütke and Weinand were totally disappointed by the suite of tools available to them to build an online presence for their store, as well as to sell and keep track of inventory.

So they built their own software and soon attracted the attention of other business owners who liked the software’s simplicity and the way it connected so many key features, such as point of sale, cool website design, and low cost. At the time, the alternative was costly software from vendors who charged tens of thousands of dollars.

Flash-forward 10 years, and Shopify has more than 100,000 customers in 150 countries powering their businesses on Shopify. Collectively, those stores logged about $1.6 billion in sales through the platform in 2013.

http://www.inc.com/jeremy-quittner/35-under-35-shopify.html

campaign compliance is low, retail localization

Why the future of retail is exciting, not gloomy

According to a recent Retail Customer Experience article, the future of the brick & mortar store is exciting, not gloomy. From the article, Kristen Gramigna highlights four reasons way brick & mortar retail is here to stay.

As consumers have become increasingly reliant on mobile devices, consulting apps, websites and online reviews to help dictate purchase decisions, the future of brick and mortar retailers once seemed bleak. But, just as consumers tend to move through ebbs and flows that dictate their purchase frequency and brand loyalty, new advancements in mobile technology point to a new retail future that will bridge the divide between online and physical storefronts, giving customers the very best of what both “worlds” have to offer. Here’s how.

The end of lines

One of greatest hiccups in the customer purchase process for physical retail storefronts has been the inconvenience of waiting in checkout lines. But thanks to increased customer familiarity and comfort with mobile payment options, that challenge has been eliminated entirely. With contactless payment methods, customers who download a mobile payment-equipped retailer app are empowered to scan the barcode of an item they want to buy and complete a purchase from anywhere in the store, without having to wait for, or even interact with, a salesperson.

Personalization through technology

Thanks to Apple’s introduction of beacons (hardware sensors that wirelessly communicate with mobile devices within a specific proximity) earlier this year, consumers will increasingly become more familiar with “push” messaging that essentially acts as their personal shopper, suggesting and pointing out relevant items that might be of interest, as they move through the store. As consumers and retailers grow more familiar with the technology, its functionality will reach beyond marketing. For example, when retailers leverage BLE proximity beacons, customers can use a retailer’s mobile app to request the help of a customer service staff when needed. The beacon can, in turn, immediately locate where the appropriate employee is in the store and facilitate the interaction by sending the team member to the customer.

The “push notification” feature also allows retailers to capture customer feedback about their in-store experience immediately after the point of sale, so they can continue to refine their brick-and-mortar strategy to meet customer needs.

Flexible, guaranteed fulfillment

Identifying where to buy a product for the lowest price once seemed like an insurmountable divide between physical storefronts and e-commerce, but new research, such as that by consultancy firm Simon-Kucher & Partners, reveals that online shoppers may not be as price-sensitive as once believed. In fact, the Simon-Kucher data indicates that consumers actually turned to e-commerce for the convenience aspects of knowing a product is in stock and ready to ship — and having a finite date of when they’ll receive the purchase.

Now that leading retailers like Walmart, Target and Nordstrom have streamlined “buy online, pick up in store” business models into the mainstream retail experience, physical storefronts actually have an upper hand: Delivery is much quicker than through e-commerce, often allowing the customer to pick the item up in store within minutes of the online purchase. If the customer doesn’t like the item once they see it in person, the return and exchange process in-store is far simpler than an e-commerce model entails.

Reverse showrooming

Though brick-and-mortar stores have faced the challenge of “showrooming” (when customers visit a physical storefront to experience a product in person only to make the purchase later online) for several years, advancements in mobile technology indicate that the once problematic behavior now works in the favor of brick-and-mortar retailers. Though Amazon is the venue of choice for traditional showroomers, it’s become an even more popular destination for reverse showroomers who use the site for product research, but ultimately buy elsewhere, according to data from Business Insider. Reverse showrooming is particularly popular among this Millennials, indicating a shift in preferences of younger shoppers.

Provided that brick-and-mortar retailers understand and leverage the technology tools that will level the playing field with e-commerce to capture customer insights, message relevant offers, and provide the convenience and service that has made e-commerce popular, brick-and-mortar retailers are primed to emerge victorious in the battle for shopper dollars.

Jennifer Aniston set to open up brick & mortar lab in Cambridge MA

Jennifer Aniston has always been known for her outrageously gorgeous hair. Knowing a thing or two about maintaining her beautiful locks, in 2012, Aniston decided to invest in a small, Cambridge-based hair care company called Living Proof. For those not living in the Boston area, Living Proof is not just an ordinary hair care line. Founded by acclaimed MIT professor and biotech inventor, Bob Langer, the products sold by Living Proof are not made with “off-the-shelf” ingredients.

Langer says the company’s goal is to challenge conventional wisdom to solve the toughest beauty problems. “Using technology originating from MIT and Harvard, we invent and patent new molecules that have never been used in beauty before,” he says.

Living Proof’s newest strategy is to open a brick and mortar lab where scientists, stylists and the public come together to test new products in an upscale, retail environment.

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Picture taken from Bostonmagazine.com

Jennifer Aniston sat down with Boston Magazine last Friday to talk about Living Proof’s new venture, called the Living Proof Style Lab, with is essentially a beauty test kitchen and retail concept space that serves as a consumer-facing extension of the company’s Cambridge labs. The in-store experience will allow customers to interact with brand and ask an actual scientist questions about the product. How cool is that?!

Below, Boston Magazine’s full Q&A with Jennifer Aniston:

[MM] The space was designed by Boston-based Hacin + Associates, but I was told you had a lot of input in the design. What did you work on exactly?

[JA] Well, they showed me the materials, the floor plan, and the layout and design, and I felt it was a bit on the side of being a science lab. It was very much metals and lacquers and I sort of suggested bringing in reclaimed woods and, you know, old materials mixed in with a more modern, mid-century kind of feel. It didn’t feel cozy or like a place where you’d want to go and get pampered or play.

Do you really use the products?

Every day.

What do you use most often? 

Well, the Restore I love because of all the wear and tear [my hair] gets. I also love the No Frizz. Also, Perfect Hair Day came about with [my hair stylist] Chris [McMillan] and I saying, “We’ve spent 25 years in a hair chair together, so the amount of mixing and the alchemy that we’ve done is a lot. It’s like, take a little paste from here, take a serum from here, let’s do a beach spray, and then here ya go.” Then, of course, the Restore Mask is what I use every Sunday, especially in the summer. It’s great to put in your hair when you’re sitting by the pool before you go into chlorine because it will protect from the damage.

There are a lot of pictures out there of you at pools.

I’m tanorexic. But we should all use at least SPF 50.

You’ve been known for your hair for more than two decades. Of all the different hairstyles, which is your favorite? Please don’t say the “Rachel,” please don’t say the “Rachel.”

The “Rachel” became the bane of my existence, and that was so funny because it was so hard to style! I was like “Great, so now what do I do?” I have this ’fro or I have to go to you every day, Chris [McMillan], to help me style it. So it became a battle against me, my hair brush, and a blow dryer, just at odds. My favorite haircut is always just simple, long layers. Just long and easy. I don’t like “hairdos.” That’s why even when I’ve cut it short just to have fun and change it up, I usually go back to what feels really me.

Right now your hair is brunette and shorter, just above the shoulders. Are you going back to your signature blonde soon?

Well, I just wrapped a movie two nights ago, and this was just for the job. So yeah, I didn’t have any time to go back. And I don’t know if I want to go back now because this is sort of my natural color.

If there was one thing you wish you knew at 30, or one thing that you wish you could tell your 30-year-old self, what would it be?

I mean, where do I begin? Don’t sweat the small stuff. You won’t care as much as you think. As much as you care right now, as much as you worry… worry is such a waste of time. Just enjoy where you are. That’s the thing: as you get older, you start to realize, “God, why didn’t I take more time to enjoy where I was, as opposed to trying to get to the next destination?” Those destinations start to creep up really quickly.

Well said. I always say I’d tell my 20-year-old self to wear a bikini every day.

Yeah, I didn’t wear bikinis in my 20s. I didn’t start to get into shape where I thought I could wear a bikini until I was a little older.

That’s surprising because you’ve been known for your fit physique for a long time. I’ve read that you practice yoga often. Is that true? 

I’ve been practicing yoga let’s say… almost 10 years now.

How often do you practice?

Like four or five times a week.

What type of yoga?

Mandy [Ingber], my friend for 25 years, is also my yoga teacher. She’s also a spin instructor. She’s everything to me. We do a combination of spin and yoga. She does a combination of all different kinds of yoga and the calisthenics, so she mixes it up. Some days we heat up the room depending on what we feel like, but we just mix it up. We’ll do 40 minutes of spin, then 30 minutes of yoga. It’s a really great work out.

 The Living Proof Style Lab will be located at 301 Binney Street (entrance on the corner of Fulkerson and Rogers Streets) in Cambridge; sign up for the wait list here; for more information, visit livingproof.com.

Motorola Solutions, ET1 Enterprise Tablet, RBM Technologies, RIS News

Motorola Solutions gets serious about shaking up shopping

Brick-and-mortar stores still stand as retail’s strongest channel; where more than 80% of buying happens at the shelf, retailers have been heavily investing in infrastructure, technology, operations and service to continue to provide shoppers with a remarkable in-store shopping experience. Motorola Solutions the leading communications and telecommunications equipment provider has been taking part in the reinvention of in-store shopping experience over the past several years. Currently, Motorola technology is used by the top 100 retailers, from mobile tablets to bar code scanners. Their recent launch of their mobile marketing platform — Mpact — Motorola is expanding their solutions to further meet the need to enrich the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

From the Washington Post article:

Motorola Solutions is the latest entrant to take on the reinvention of in-store shopping. It’s launching a comprehensive mobile marketing platform — Mpact — for retailers who want to use cutting-edge technology to enrich their brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

“We believe this is going to become not only an absolutely critical part of retailers’ way of interacting with you. In fact they have to give you all of the best benefits that you’re used to getting from an Amazon environment if they want to be able to compete. They’re going to have to implement this one way or another,” said Barry Issberner, marketing director for enterprise solutions at Motorola Solutions.

Physical stores still account for the overwhelming majority of sales, so businesses are determined to optimize their in-store experience. One of the most promising solutions is beacons, Bluetooth-powered sensors placed throughout stores. Motorola will begin selling its own beacons, which will deliver location-based information and deals to customers’ smartphones. Motorola Solutions will also provide retailers analytics of the in-store location data and upkeep of the network of beacons.

It’s partnering with a handful of companies focused on retail innovations — Swirl, Aisle411, Digby and Phunware — to make the experience possible.

Motorola Solutions appears well-positioned to deliver its platform given its existing relationships with retailers. Motorola technology is already in use in the 100 top retailers. It provides everything from devices to scan barcodes to WiFi network infrastructure. Given the popularity of smartphones, Motorola Solutions realized it had the chance to grow its offerings to stores.

“What we see is that vocal minority of shoppers today — which we think will become the majority over time — that want to use that personal mobile device as an interaction tool,” Issberner said.

A unique aspect of Motorola Solutions’ approach to reinventing retail is including WiFi.

“The other folks in this space have isolated this to just the Bluetooth Low Energy capability, and we think that is really not giving the retailer the level of scalability and capability that they’re after,” Issberner said.

“As marketing campaigns get more sophisticated with rich imagery, even perhaps audio and video down the line, you’re going to need that strong connectivity,” Swirl chief executive Hilmi Ozguc said. “And unfortunately cellphone coverage isn’t great inside some of these stores.”

Motorola imagines a time when it’s normal to have a live video chat with a store employee.

“You can chat with someone at corporate headquarters at Best Buy who is an absolute expert on that TV you’re considering. That is coming. Most retailers can’t support that today, but that is going to happen and that is going to evolve,” Issberner said.

Motorola Solutions’ interest in beacons is the latest example of the building momentum behind the devices, which have the potential to remake our experiences in all physical places. But the company is staying open-minded about alternatives as well for delivering an engaging, location-based experience to customers. For example,Philips is developing lights with built-in sensors that detect the location of shoppers.

“We’re seeing a time in the market where the playing field of online and in-store is being leveled,” Aisle 411 chief executive Nathan Pettyjohn said. “For a long long time the in-store, the brick and mortar had won and dominated. They’re at a critical point where they have to digitize the physical store so it all works together, or the physical retailers are at a huge risk of losing ground.”

Staples Launches In-Store 3D Printing Experience

Retail is quickly becoming the consumer 3D printing scene, from the opening of MakerBot stores to printing 3D makeup, 3D printers are taking the retail route to go mainstream. The idea to open up the retail space so people can come in, look at a variety of printed objects or printers to buy. There is no better way to check out a new product than to experience it in person.

One major retailer just did just that. Staples is running a pilot with two stores, one on the east and west coast, where they opened up their retail space for customers to experience and interact with the latest 3D technology. Each Staples’ store features an immersive 3D printing experience center that lets consumers and small businesses create personalized products and use 3D printing hardware. Customers can also bring in their own 3D print-ready files to have them printed.

More from the article posted by Industrial Distribution

3D Systems announced a partnership with Staples, Inc. in a pilot of 3D printing services in two Staples stores in New York City and Los Angeles.

Each Staples store features an immersive 3D printing experience center that lets consumers and small businesses create personalized products and use 3D printing hardware. Customers can also bring in their own 3D print-ready files to have them printed.

“3D printing offers enormous potential for small businesses, and by using Staples, they can print with the technology without having to invest in it,” said Damien Leigh, Senior Vice President of Business Services for Staples, Inc. “The test with 3D Systems will help us learn about our customers’ needs for a local 3D printing service, and how Staples can help them make more happen for their business through 3D printing.”

“Staples’ established reputation as a leader in home office and small business solutions makes them an ideal partner for testing out live, consumer-facing 3D print services,” said Rajeev Kulkarni, 3DS’ Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Products Division. “We have been thrilled with the retail experience and response from our audience, and the difference it makes being able to see, touch and experience 3D printing.”

With the new experience centers, both small businesses and consumers are able to learn more about 3D printing through demonstration areas where they can use design software and see 3D Systems printers in action. Each store will have a 3DMe(R) Photobooth from 3D Systems to capture customers’ facial images for the purpose of personalizing 3D products like figurines, and customers can also print personalized smart phone cases.

Each store has an expert from 3D Systems on-site, along with trained Copy & Print associates from Staples to help guide customers on their 3D printing journey. The items will be printed on site or through 3D Systems and shipped directly to their offices or home.

Staples previously announced in May of 2013 that it would be the first major U.S. retailer to carry 3D printers, with the launch of the Cube(R) from 3D Systems on Staples.com. The company has since rolled out 3D printing hardware and accessories in a limited number of stores, and expanded its overall product selection.