PSFK's Future Of Retail 2020: Retail As Personal Utility report provides a strategic roadmap for brands and retailers to deliver hyper-personalized service that meets the unique needs of every customer in a post-experiential era
Toy company LEGO’s Replay program provides free return shipping labels for customers to donate their unused toy bricks to children in need. After being returned, the pieces are sorted and cleaned, then sent to classrooms in need. Replay boosts LEGO’s sustainability while contributing to charity, all without asking too much of the customer.
During the back-to-school rush at the end of summer, people with Amazon Alexa could donate school supplies by simply saying, “Alexa, donate to Happy School Year.” Amazon’s program shipped fully stocked, $25 backpacks to the nonprofit Communities In Schools, and required almost no effort from charitable voice assistant users.
With same-day delivery on products like iPhones and Sonos speakers, Enjoy is challenging the world to rethink the way delivery should work
Gwick is a mobile app that enables users to easily send virtual gift cards for hundreds of popular retailers and restaurants that can be used both online or in physical stores. Gift givers can attach photos or videos to create a personalized message with their gift cards. The app also includes a newsfeed function, allowing users to interact with friends and reminding them of important occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries.
For the Chinese Lunar New Year, Swarovski, producer of fine crystal, created a WeChat mini program with a crowdfunding feature, allowing users to select a Swarovski gift for a friend and then enlist their social network for help in purchasing it.
The Chinese online retailer JD created a WeChat mini program that facilitates gift giving and removes any associated awkwardness of having to ask for someone’s address in order to send it to them. Using JD Gift, gift givers choose an item from the vast selection available on the gift marketplace and make their purchase. The recipient then receives a notification to input their shipping address. As the gift has already been paid for, gift givers don’t have to worry about the recipient politely declining the gift.
Gift card solution company CashStar created a product eGifting initiative that allows customers to send physical gifts without knowing the receiver’s size or shipping address. When shopping on the website of a merchant who has implemented CashStar Product eGifting, shoppers can select a product for the recipient, who is then notified and has the option to personalise the gift, select a different product before it gets shipped, or receive an egift card instead.
Alibaba-owned logistics company Cainiao has partnered with Chinese robotics company RoboSense to develop an autonomous delivery robot. The unmanned wheeled robotic vehicle uses LiDAR to navigate, carrying packages at a pedestrian-safe speed of less than 10 miles per hour. It uses facial recognition technology to ensure that it has arrived at the correct recipient before opening the doors to its package locker.
Package delivery company UPS formed a subsidiary called Flight Forward and applied for the Federal Aviation Administration approval to begin operating commercial drone delivery.
Texas-based grocery retailer H-E-B piloted autonomous delivery near its Olmos Park, TX, supermarket with a self-driving vehicle named Newton, which can hold up to 32 orders of varying size.
Big box retailer Walmart partners with startup Alert Innovation to pilot a first-of-its-kind automated system called The Alphabot in its supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, dedicated to improving the fulfillment of grocery pickup. Housed in a 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store, the high-speed system delivers items to sales associates to assemble and deliver orders to customers.
Canadian startup Attabotics has developed a micro-fulfillment center, creating a more flexible, accelerated and scalable fulfillment system through the help of automated technologies. Designed to resemble ant colonies, the three-dimensional structure is filled with condensed aisles and shelves and is operated by robotic shuttles that can move both horizontally and vertically along the structure.
California-based startup inVia Robotics levels the automated warehouse playing field by creating fulfillment robots for smaller online businesses. The robot's compact and unconventional design allows it to lift up to 40 pounds and special barcodes help them navigate and identify items.