John Anderton walks into a store, in the year 2054. A retinal scan flashes as he passes a large digital screen. All around him screens come to life, begging for his attention, “Over here Mr. Anderton, you could use a Guinness…”. From bank cards to a new car, John’s presence triggers a personalised shopping experience… and a revolution in retail thinking.

Of course John Anderton is a fictional character played by Tom Cruise in the infamous future-vision thriller “Minority Report”. But the experience Anderton goes through in this classic scene is far from fiction. The futuristic retail customer experience Anderton (Cruise) experiences is nothing more than a well-executed combination of Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, Eye-Tracking, and HD Video panels; technologies that exist today. You can literally go and buy all of these products right now… google it, I’ll wait…

The advancement of technology aside, what this scene really opened up was how businesses, and particularly retailers, stared thinking about the possibilities of customer engagement. In the years since it’s inception, “Minority Report” has been the go-to analogy in boardrooms across the globe when discussing the application of emerging technology to customer engagement.

For me, the most important dialogue hasn’t been around the tech itself, but around the personalisation capabilities of such technologies. I was fascinated by the retinal-scan as entry point to customer experience, where a customer’s biometrics form the foundation of a brand experience. This is where this kind of tech become interesting to me; when we move from brand-lead “push” engagement (the perfume girl spritzing random strangers as the pass by) to individual-lead activation (biometric information kicking off precisely targeted communications).

 

The Future of Retail Customer Experience

The future of retail has to be 3 things:

  • Digital
  • Experiential
  • Personal

You can read these as building blocks of the customer journey, leading to what I believe is the most important aspect of future retail – Personalisation. The preceding ideas ultimately converge to form the genesis of what I like to call “Me:tail” – a highly personalised retail experience. Digitaisation leads to more immersive experiences and higher tech bias, which leads to an ability to render more personalised content across screen networks. So the Digital > Experiential > Personal framework builds on itself to culminate in a deeper customer communication and engagement model.

Me:tail

Clever isn’t it? I thought so 🙂 It’s retail, with Me! A personal model for retail experience.

Hollywood Magic or Reality?

The tech is available. So then, if the technology exists, and there are agencies capable of plugging it all together into something resembling the immersive retail store of 2054, why are you not seeing this in every store, in every mall, in every country of the world?

Great question. The answer is rather more complicated, but here’s my $0.02 on why the reality of retail isn’t living up to it’s potential:

  • Client Education

  • Agency Capability

  • Cost

  • First-mover skepticism

  • Fear

  • Integration

These are barriers that exist today in 2017, to varying degrees depending on where you are in the World – here in the Middle East things are slightly (I’m being generous) further behind than other more accelerated countries. These are, however, more fear-based barriers that I can see being easily dissolved with more case studies, sales metrics and insights revealing the benefit to retail traffic, conversion and retention of ore engaging retail environments.

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