January 25, 2016

New Technology Opportunities for Shopping Centres

There is a way to do it better – find it.

Thomas Edison

Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let’s all go exploring.

Edith Widder

Have you ever wondered what could be the New Year’s resolution of a shopping mall? Will it be innovative ideas for customer engagement or new personalised ways of communicating with an audience? The more technology integrates into the lives of consumers, the more vital the answers to these questions will be.

The managers of shopping malls of today should realise that their centres become an instant ‘walk-in-web-store’. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Big Data and new technologies, such as near-field communication, geofencing and facial recognition, provides customers with individual and personalised communications and a new shopping experience. For centre managers, analyses of consumer behaviour, their preferences and emotions is possible to capture.

Here are some of the technology trends that will continue to develop in 2016.

The year of virtual reality

Virtual Reality (VR) technologies were the most discussed topic in the IT industry in 2015. In 2016, new VR glasses will be launched by technology giants such as Sony, HTC and Oculus. VR technology has been deeply rooted in the gaming industry since its invention, but this year it will be adapted to the needs of retail customers too. The main goal for developers is to combine the convenience of e-commerce with the authenticity of the real shopping experience. So far, no retailers have announced a launch of a virtual storefront, but IT companies have made significant steps in the development of VR solutions for retail.

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to do virtual shopping with our friends from different parts of the world, so we can interact and communicate with them within the virtual digital space.

vRetail™ experience powered by Sixense vCommerce™


SapientNitro Virtual Reality Experience at Cannes Lions 2015

Artificial intelligence reads people’s emotions

Nowadays, we do not need to rely only on our assumptions alone when we analyse customer mood; new technologies can read people’s emotions for us. A new breakthrough in the study of emotions has been conducted by Emotient, a start-up company recently acquired by Apple. They are leaders in emotion detection and sentiment analysis based on the study of facial expressions.

Their cloud-based service can be a valuable tool for managers to gauge the emotional response to store design and retail marketing activities.

Ibeacon-enhanced shopping experience

In the very near future offline stores will be very similar to e-commerce platforms as they endeavour to personalise all communications. Collection of customer information, in order to understand their needs and to offer them appropriate services, will improve service. Facial recognition technologies, mobile data devices and the ability to track all visitor movements and reactions will allow shopping centres to react instantly.

Ibeacon technology will help achieve a high level of personalisation. Beacons will provide an opportunity to send customers highly contextual, hyper-local, meaningful messages and promotions and also to track movements and journeys of visitors in the shopping centre.

Among the best platforms and solutions are:

1. In Market – a marketing platform that runs the world’s largest mobile shopper marketing platform with the world’s largest network of beacon-enhanced shopping apps.

2. Swirl – a marketing platform helping leading retailers to engage in today’s in-store shopping experience with highly relevant content delivered where and when it matters most.

3. Indoors – an indoor positioning and navigation company assisting customers in locating and finding specific items or making them aware of special offers that will positively affect their shopping experience and result in the improvement of a retailer‘s business intelligence.

The environment of a Shopping centre; its design, presentation and services impact on customer decision-making as much as the mix of tenants, brands, price and quality of product. Beacon-enhanced technology with tracking tactics can monitor visitors’ activities and show centre management where they need to improve the shopping experience. Smart design may improve visitor’s ‘dwell time’ and boost the chances that a shopper will make a purchase.

Considering people’s needs

Audio-based navigation

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 have low vision (WHO, 2014). What if visually impaired people were empowered to navigate independently using their smartphones? With the help of iBeacon technology it is now a reality. Wayfindr developed an audio-based navigation tool that empowers visually-impaired people across the world to travel independently.

More than a sign

Dislife’s ‘More than a sign’ campaign is a very efficient way to persuade drivers not to park in places reserved for diables users. The campaign was implemented in shopping malls and business centres around Moscow and had a huge success. More than 30 percent of drivers in Russia ignore the designated signs for disabled parking and park where they want, but they couldn’t ignore new holograms of people with disabilities appearing when drivers wanted to park in their place. For many drivers, parking signs mean nothing so watch the video to see how the non-profit group Dislife, in cooperation with Y&R, found a solution!

Dislife’s “More Than a Sign” by Y&R Moscow

Making a payment system as simple as possible

The development of new payment services will inevitably reorganise the process of purchases at shopping centres. Retailers want to sell their products quickly whilst customers would like to spend less time queuing when paying for goods. Pay Pass, Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other inventions accelerate the process of payment benefitting both the retailer and customer.

These inventions to enable faster payments has come about with the development of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID tags attached to goods will allow customers to buy anything they wish with the touch of their smart phone, without involving a sales assistant or cashier.

New innovative ideas and gadgets give us the opportunity to imagine the future of the shopping centre, its design and functionality. By considering the speed of IT market development, creation and the introduction of new devices, it is easy to assume that ordinary shopping centres can dramatically change in the future. Shopping malls will be able to provide visitors with a high level of personalisation and help clients to get the most out of their shopping experience. Technology becomes faster and more intuitive. As technology changes, the style of our life changes too.