Urbanist Spring Look
With summer comes unbearable heat. In winter, there’s all of that snow and slush. It’s these mid-range seasons that are a bit trickier to identify in the city—as far as weather goes. To spot signs of spring, urbanites have to look elsewhere, specifically in the retail realm. Like at the first hint of nice weather, when pop-up stores move from indoors to the sidewalks and parks. Or when samplers are out and about seeking potential shoppers for their products. Even underground, subway fashion posters shed their winter layers in exchange for the hottest spring looks.
Technology, too, marches on to the beat of each season. With a constant stream of innovations, retailers have opportunities to target, disrupt, and connect with spring shoppers like never before. Which, of course, always keeps the Urbanist on its toes.
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The Rise of Retail Robots
Customer service has reached the next level at Lowe’s. Two stores in Toronto are currently home to OSHBot (Orchard Supply Hardware Bot)—a product of a San Jose tech company. These auto-assistants are robots that roam the aisles and are able to help shoppers via voice-activated sensors as well as a touchscreen. Shoppers simply ask a question and the OSHBot will display the information you need or lead them to the product they desire. Though seen as a novelty now, it is really a gateway of more advanced bots to come. But, for now, the OSHBot offers a unique press opportunity for the store, while making the shopper’s in-store journey a bit easier. On the flip side, human sales reps worried about job security might not like the rise of this friendly retail robot.
Business Goes Live
Periscope is a new social network launched by Twitter this past March. What it offers is the opportunity for members to stream live video content. Since its inception, the social app has already seen its share of controversy, from streaming copyrighted content to offering excessive adult content. Because it is in its infancy the 10,000-plus content creators are still trying to find their way and figure out the applications of this network—especially for brands. Industry analysts have weighed in, suggesting the site would be optimal for in-the-moment events like runway shows, product launches, and even behind-the-scenes content. For brands, promotions could also benefit from Periscope—adding a real time component to a sweepstakes, an online campaign, or even something as simple as offering a coupon. What the live feed does is bring in a time-sensitive element that brands can control. However, as with other social apps, the X-factor will be what type of content will actually draw in consumers and whether consumer engagement is beneficial to the brand. Either way, at this early stage, it will be interesting to see the hits as well as the misses.
Commerce in a Dash
Amazon now has its own spin on the Staples “Easy” button with their new Dash device. To make repeat purchases a cinch for consumers, the e-commerce giant has developed the Dash—a tiny, branded gadget (about the size of a pack of gum) that prominently features one button. All someone has to do is push the button, and Amazon will receive an order to send the user the product. Brands like Bounty, Maxwell House, and Tide have already opted into this program, which is open to Prime members. Because it is portable and features no wires, the device can literally be stuck anywhere where you use the product like the pantry, washing machine, or even on the coffee maker. Amazon also thought ahead and ensured the device is childproof. It will send out only one order, no matter how many times it’s pushed during a certain time interval. Amazon hopes the Dash will save even more time for busy homemakers. Not to mention the fact that this technology is offering brands a chance to step out of the computer and mobile devices into an area where purchasing products is extremely top of mind.
For more urban trends & insights, check out next month’s issue.
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