The Bricks and Mortar Innovation Award will go to a retailer enabling physical spaces to thrive via innovative technology, even as online shopping continues to grow. The judges are looking for examples of reduced friction in the customer journey, offering improved experiences, and blurring the lines between channels.
We wanted to offer our insights on the finalists, some of whom we’ve been delighted to work with over the years!
Asda’s new store in Stevenage has earned the retailer a nomination in this year’s awards for its electronic shelf edge labelling solution (eSEL). This covers 22,000 lines in the Stevenage Innovation Store enabling staff to implement 3,000 price changes a week, which used to be a time-consuming manual paper-based process. The installation was challenging but having tried versions of the labels from four different suppliers, Asda has selected a battery powered option with a 5-year life.
The Stevenage store is also trailing a range of technology innovations such as 3D holograms to showcase products as well as Scan & Go points and in seasonal isles.
Pictured: The holograms in action (Asda Corporate)
Chinese retailer, JD, has earned its place as a finalist for its flagship store in Bengbu, China, the first of 300 planned home appliance stores, where JD is using experiential retail to bring customers into store. The store features entertainment zones where customers can test products from piloting a drone to testing kitchen utensils by cooking. This idea is to give customers practical knowledge of a product before purchase and overcome post purchase dissatisfaction that JD found customer could experience following a purchase based on a salesperson recommendation. JD reports that this has been most successful with customers in their 20s and in August and September 2020, the store became the city’s most popular home appliance and electronics place as sales in the store reached RMB 45 million yuan between August 28th to September 14th.
JD Sports used 100 Evoke digital signs to promote the opening of its Time Square store in October with large digital windows, video walls, LED displays, digital light boxes and a large digital entrance portal. Being digital the displays can easily be updated to promote sales or featured products to customers in store. It also creates a unique experience for customers entering the store with ever-changing surroundings displayed on the screens.
American supermarket Target’s concept store, opened in San Francisco in March, visualised the future of gaming. There are phones linked to cloud gaming services and Virtual Reality areas, with some but not all products available to purchase, heightening customer excitement. While the VR areas give customers a futuristic experience and doesn’t feature any association with current generation consoles. Target is using this to test how it can embrace the developing interest of gaming while delivering a unique experience to customers, whether they’re a fan of gaming or not.
Pharmacy chain Walgreens has been focusing on improving the customer’s shopping experience and the best placement of products, by tracking the customer path through the store using a network of Atrius sensors.
“There’s nothing more important in people’s lives than their health, and the more we’ll be relevant, the more we’ll be able to meet the modern needs of modern patients, communities and customers.”
Walgreens co-COO, Alex Gourlay, talking about their future of healthcare initiative.
Walmart’s nomination is for its work in optimising retail space to balance the value of both physical shopping destinations and online fulfilment centres. Product and technology teams in the four US prototype stores, are testing how to maximise sales, comparing value of selling products in store versus online and collected in store.
John Crecelius, SVP of Associate Product and Next Generation Stores, Walmart US has said;
“We will continuously rotate new technology, digital tools and physical enhancements in and out of the stores, all with the intention of helping our associates better and more easily serve our customers”.
Walmart has also developed an app to optimise the process of moving items from the store to the shop floor which highlights boxes that are ready to go without the need to scan every box.
This year’s judging panel consists of a variety of retail leaders: Mike Cadden, Office Depot’s IT Director; Sharon Peters, Head of Tech at M&S; Sophie Baron, Founder of Mamamade; Hayley Meenan-Wilkin, Ocado’s Web Trading Manager; Martin Newman, Founder of the Customer First Group; Tiffany Lung, Retail Analyst; Nadine Neatrour, Chief Customer Officer at ByTerry; Luke Philips, Program Director at Studio Retail; Glen Richardson, CMO and CTO of Ideal Shopping Direct; Gerald Dawson, Finance Director at Forthglade Foods; Andy Mulcahy, Strategy & Insight Director at IMRG; and finally, Simon Curtis, Sales and Marketing Director at PMC Retail.