A customization concept reacts to the tangible needs of shopping with the flexibility of digital applications.
SPACE BUILDER: A mobile scanner app that allows users to create their own catalogs and custom views as they shop.
Throughout the Future of Retail report there were many examples of retailers trying to combine the tactility of the physical retail experience with the convenience and customization of digital. And there are a lot of different tools and technologies coming together to try to make this connection in different ways: RFID, GPS, Bluetooth, accelerometers, iPads, kiosks and shopping robots, just to name a few. It seems almost too obvious that a piece of technology that is already the backbone of almost every retailer’s inventory and sales systems could be the easiest solution.
The lowly bar code, something that has been around for 50 years, is proving to be an exciting frontier for connecting people, products and content. But while apps like Stripey Lines and Sticky Bits are finding really interesting ways of letting consumers access and share content through a social network of random objects, there aren’t many retailers using this most basic of technologies as a platform for creating more engaging in-store shopping experiences. What if there were a way for shoppers to work around the clutter of shelves and the distractions of packaging and displays to able to see the products they are shopping for in contextual environments that they create?
This concept is called Space Builder. With this app (designed with furniture and home décor retailers in mind), users could scan barcodes of products using their smart phone while they shop.
Each scan would instantly display catalog photography and details of that product (360 degree QTVRs for the more ambitious retailer), but the scans would also be collected into a real-time personal catalog that could then be sent to large in-store kiosk displays (or an online gallery to view from your home PC).
Items could then be arranged and matched by color, category, fabrics, designer, etc., and assembled into a 3D room model. Other product suggestions could be made to users based on the items they scanned or the rooms they create, and an in-store locator could direct the customer to the aisles that contain these complementary products. It combines the benefits of physically touching and trying with the customization and control of online shopping.
PSFK recently published an analysis of the Future of Retail. The 80-page report was created to explore this future from the perspective of brands, shoppers, retailers, and communities. It was also produced as stimulus for the creative community and we encourage brands, agencies, and individuals to respond with their thoughts about the Future of Retail.
The idea above is from Wieden + Kennedy New York. The agency has responded with three ideas; a piece of technology, a concept and an experience. The full response is available for download on request here.