“2020 proved to be a shopping year like none other ever before,” understated Robin Raskin, founder of Solving for Tech and moderator of the CES 2021 conference “Retail’s New Look: Shopper’s Little Helpers.” “It was pretty much of a strange experience, but some really fascinating things came out of the technology sector to help shoppers.”
Raskin presented four such fascinating shopping technologies designed to help consumers more easily and quickly identify and purchase goods and services safely and securely in both physical or digital environments, both during the pandemic and afterward.
For instance, OV Loop is a universal digital payment platform consisting of a cloud-based universal wallet and communicator app, a brandable Bluetooth super card called Valet compatible with nearly all current and legacy POS and magstripe terminals, and a brandable digital customer support tool called Concierge, all designed for businesses to get paid faster and boost customer satisfaction. “It’s multi-channel, very versatile, and, ultimately it’s to help brands to be able to better interact and transact with their customers,” said OV Loop CEO Will Graylin, “and also help banks, allowing them to have a connected card, to have more secure and easier, safer payments in the physical environment.”
Perfect Corp seems to have perfected a way for both businesses to sell and for consumers to buy beauty products. Perfect’s AR- and AI-powered platform allows virtual, mess-free make-up try on and purchase, reinventing the online-to-offline (O2O) consumer beauty journey. “What we are offering here is to enhance your online experience [and] to add a human element into e-commerce,” explained Wayne Liu, Perfect’s SVP and GM. “On the retail side, we try to make it more digital so you can still go to the store with safety and peace of mind [with a] non-touch solution.”
SoftBank Robotics presented its four-foot-tall Pepper, an in-store “shopper’s little helper” robot that serves as a personal greeter, and Wiz, a commercial/industrial robot cleaner and sweeper, two examples of what the company calls “cobots.” “In a pandemic world where things are closed up and quarantined, it’s important to think about how we have to be contactless,” noted Kass Dawson, SoftBank’s brand strategy and communications VP. “People are afraid to touch things or touch people or interact with other humans at this point. The idea of cobots has really taken off, the idea being that there are things that can be done without human interaction.”
LiveArea presented its Scan & Go platform, the ultimate and universal app-free, sensor-free, and human-free customizable shopping environment and contactless check-out system that brick and mortar retailers can implement via their own existing web sites in a matter of weeks, according to Val Vacante, LiveArea’s director of strategy, experience and innovation.
Is reconfiguring your store worth all this time, effort and expense? Yes, according to Vacante, who cited a recent customer survey that found “87% of shoppers prefer to shop in stores with robust touchless checkout options. They just want to get in and out as quickly and as touch-free as possible.”