2014 predictions put physical into the spotlight for retail

As we wrap up 2013, we’re starting get the annual deluge of reflections and predictions. One that seems promising is that the days innovations being focused only online have come to an end. The retail industry is starting to hear and see the innovations coming from companies like ours (CloudTags) as well as complimentary players like Hointer and Nomi. All focusing on different areas of the spectrum:

  • CloudTags: customers identify themselves and build digital collections using in-store mobile tablets and then can buy online, giving credit to the store and sales person
    CloudTags Omnichannel implementation
  • Hointer: store customer service automation using digital means to select product on the floor and have it automatically presented in the fitting room
  • Nomi: anonymous customer data understanding where shoppers walk in and outside of the store and then being able to view this across multiple retailers

These are just a few. But imagine these three in combination where a retailer knows where you went in the store, what you browsed and didn’t buy, what you bought and all of this automated to certain levels of self service. Its not the future, its happening now.

We believe that physical stores are going to get a lot of attention in 2014. And we aren’t alone. Tech heavy weight IBM, leading agency MRY and retailers themselves are making similar predictions.

IBM published its annual 5 in 5 report highlighting the innovations that they believe will become reality over the next five years. Number two on the list was,  “Buying Local Will Beat Online.”


Futurist and digital agencies are starting to see the shift and they know that to stay best of breed and on the bleeding edge, they’ll have to respond. Innovator Jeff Melton at MRY in New York is keenly aware.

Jeff Melton, Chief Distribution Officer: The Rise of Decision Films

“A Decision Film is a piece of content that tells a product’s story to influence the purchase decision at the point of sale. We are seeing the beginning of technology enabled retail experiences come to market. iBeacons, Nomi, CloudTags, and digital wallets are just a few signals that the physical retail world is going to surprise us in 2014. Apple recently (and quietly) enabled iBeacons at their own retail locations, which should show us where the retail industry is headed. With so much information likely to engage consumers at the point of sale, beautiful product stories may be a brand’s best opportunity to convince the consumer that the brand is for them.”

Retailers also are starting to re-envision the role of their stores as increasingly promising and critical as referenced recently by Peter Ruis, Buying Director at John Lewis.

Bricks and mortar retail is not dying but evolving into a hybrid shopping experience that involves new technologies and old-fashioned customer service concepts, according to the buying and brand director at department store John Lewis.

Peter Ruis, who is credited with having revolutionised John Lewis’s fashion arm, said physical stores will continue to be an integral part of the “omni-channel” retail approach.

However, he warned that they must embrace emerging technologies inside and develop a new shopping experience to meet the shifting needs and habits of consumers.

Over two thirds of John Lewis customers go through two channels, such as mobile and physical store, before they finally buy a product - and this number is growing rapidly.

Will 2014 be the year the physical in reinvented with the benefits and innovation of the online experience? We believe it.