We've all heard this story: retail is drowning and online sales are booming. Shoppers are voting with their wallets, going online for savings, interactivity and convenience. At the same time, rising rent costs are forcing retail stores to pack up and go digital or risk staying in business and staying relevant. Shopping online just offers more options that retail can't stock. It's only a matter of time before the digital and physical shopping experiences clash in a big way, and Intel's already trying to figure out how that's going to look.
Read on for three ways on how Intel and its partners plan to save (or at least stave off the destruction of) retail.
Adidas adiVERSE Interactive Sneaker Wall
In a parallel, "perfect" universe (well, for shoemakers), every sneaker store would be the size of a hangar and stock every possible color for any given sneaker all in one place. Unfortunately, that's not how the real world is. A sneaker store is limited only by its shelf space.
That's where Adidas's "adiVERSE" comes in. Call it a virtual footwear wall that can store an unlimited supply of sneakers or a digital shelf that customers can interact with to customize color and material to create their own personalized sneaker.
AdiVERSE is a joint venture between Adidas and Intel that lets you quickly pull up info on specs such as material and weight between other sneakers, watch videos on the making of and history of a sneaker — inside the store on large touchscreens. Check it out:
See a sneaker you like on the wall? Bummed it doesn't come in hot pink and cerulean? Find the sneaker on the adiVERSE wall, change the color, rotate it in 3D to make sure it's really what you want and then order it on the spot. Your sneaker will be delivered to your house.
There are many times when a sales associate is simply unavailable at retail to help you with your needs. AdiVERSE has that covered as well — just select the sneaker you want to try out and a sales associate will be alerted and bring it over to you shortly.
Does It Have A Future? Absolutely. What retail wouldn't want unlimited shelf space in-stores? AdiVERSE merges the physical aspect of shopping with the convenience and customization of online browsing. Together, such an experience is not only great for Adidas, but would also do wonders for many other retailers as well. At the end of the day, the stuff we buy is meant to be touched and tried on first to ensure correct fit. AdiVERSE gives us both.
Intel Interactive Fashion Experience
There's a reason shopping for apparel online is taking off like a supersonic jet: it's far more convenient and easier to browse clothes in computer windows than to shuffle through racks of discounted clothes.
Intel's gigantic 85-inch plasma touchscreen attempts to bring that online experience that people love and plug it into retail. With a rotatable wall of virtually unlimited apparel, shoppers can mix and match clothes and accessories on a virtual mannequin instead of wasting time trying every article themselves. It even includes the option for putting together outfits, and the idea is that you could then have a store employee bring you the items you've chosen.
But this isn't the first time and it won't be the last time clothing stores look to combine the online shopping experience with retail. Macy's Magic Fitting Room used a similar concept and went one further: augmented reality that superimposes the clothing on your own body.
So, why didn't Intel include that? AR is hardly a difficult feature to program. An Intel rep told DVICE that people actually don't want to see digital clothes superimposed on their own bodies and that there are still various roadblocks to successfully implementing AR clothes. Those issues include improper size selections, the inability to layer clothes on top of one another and also that it takes a lot of extra work to get clothes to have views from the back and sides. Intel's virtual mannequin solves all those problems. Here's what it ends up looking like:
Aside from just being an oversized digital dressing room, the touchscreen is socially connected. Like an outfit you just created? Send it to a friend for advice on via email or Facebook. Unsure whether to buy a jacket? Save it to your phone and mull it over at home. And just like adiVERSE, if you need a different size or color for a piece of clothing, ringing a sales associate to go fetch it over is easier than peeking around outside your dressing room curtain looking for a sales rep in vain.
Does It Have A Future? Intel made it very clear that this digital dressing room is not meant to replace physical ones. It's there to supplement regular fitting rooms. It's perfect for the person always on the rush who doesn't have time to stop to try on clothing but still wants the flexibility of seeing an outfit come together on a near-life-sized mannequin. That, and a key element helps it rise above being a gimmick: the social connection.
Kraft's Meal Planning Solution Kiosk
We've covered Kraft's Meal Planning Solution kiosk before. The kiosk is basically equipped with Anonymous Video Analytics camera that scans you. Based off your estimated body type, age and gender, the kiosk will then recommend recipes that it deems is suitable for your consumption. The idea is to tackle the hardest part about dinner: deciding what to eat.
It doesn't stop there. Kraft's kiosk also includes the ability to talk to smartphones through apps. Although the kiosk doesn't store any information about the people it scans, it can become smarter and get a better idea of the type of foods and recipes a person might want from a digital profile stored in their smartphones. Things like favoriting recipes and snacks will help the kiosk more accurately predict your next meal. Here it is in action (via Fast Company):
Does It Have A Future? While the idea of recommending new meals is a nice convenience for, say, the parent shopping at a grocery store, Kraft's kiosk could probably stand a better chance if it could beam info and videos on how to prepare healthier meals, instead of just telling you to eat a salad because it thinks you've gotten fatter. I think shoppers would benefit more from learning how to cook than what to cook.