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  • Antoine de Lasteyrie

Tech innovation, a strategic lever for tomorrow's retail

After two complicated years due to the pandemic, the Retail's Big Show made its comeback on the global retail scene in New York from 15 to 17 January.

More than 38,000 visitors and 16,000 exhibitors/start-ups from all over the world came together at this major international event for the sector to discover the new trends in retail tech, present their innovations and share their vision of the retail of the future. French Tech, which was well represented, brought a breath of fresh air and new perspectives to this sector, which is undergoing major changes as a result of digital advances and the emergence of new consumer trends.

Let's take a look at 4 tech nuggets unearthed at the show.

The customer experience, at the heart of retail issues

In the aisles of the NRF, professionals agree on this point: retail must reinvent itself. This means first and foremost an enriched customer experience, transformed thanks to the contribution of data and new technologies. Sublimating the product and limiting irritants, softening them, and reenchanting them are fundamental elements that contribute to a successful customer journey. Innovation and creativity are resolutely supported by this 2023 edition.

In the sports and luxury sector, Volumental, a Swedish start-up, offers a 3D foot measurement tool that takes into account each morphology. A customized solution that reduces certain purchasing barriers and in particular the friction point of choosing the right size often encountered by the customer when buying shoes online and positively improves the customer experience. Available until now on IOS, the start-up announced exclusively at the NRF the launch of their solution on Android in the first quarter of 2023. A major step forward in its acceleration.

This issue is also shared by major brands such as Lego or Farfetch & Harrods who gave fascinating conferences.

One observation: points of sale are no longer places of transaction but places of communication, true experiential and immersive brand territories.

Retail is becoming "Retailtainment" and is presenting the brand through emotion, experience, and entertainment. The importance of data and personalization, as well as the importance of the homogeneity of the experience from physical to digital, are also highlighted by Farfetch & Harrods.

Omnichannelity, inspiring solutions.

"Delivering a unified and convergent customer experience across all distribution channels; a challenge for brands." Omnichannel is more than ever the trend in retail in 2023 and in the years to come. It is at the heart of the strategies of brands that wish to offer an identical, relevant, and coherent customer experience across all its channels by centralizing customer data... It is essential to create a bridge between the real and the virtual because it allows the customer to find the same brand experience on all distribution channels.

Omnichannel brings real added value through recognition and, implicitly, knowledge of the customer.

"There is no recognition if there is no knowledge".

Recognition of the customer is essential to offer them a personalized experience (NFT, QR Code)..., to value them, and to reconstitute a reliable and sincere customer lifeline.

EON, a start-up based in New York, builds bridges between the physical and virtual worlds. It is developing a technology that is capable of being integrated into the production chain with the generation of a unique Digital ID per product or per item, a genuine digital identity card for an item accessible in the form of a QR code or RFID chip and allowing the consumer to access all the product's information (exact composition, production chain, traceability, eco-responsibility, etc.) and, why not, its digital duplicate. This is an additional pledge of commitment, transparency, and security for the customer, and is of real interest to brands in their strategy to fight counterfeiting.

French Tech in the spotlight

One of the revelations of the show was that French solutions were widely represented. Supported by Business France, which is a founding member of French Tech, they are boosting retail with truly qualitative solutions to enrich the omnichannel customer experience. Two start-ups that are part of Micropole's innovation programme and which are distinguished by their innovative solutions are a case in point.

Metav. RS is a platform that creates, deploys, and manages specific 3D environments, via mobile and desktop. It distinguishes itself by creating branded, private, secure, and fully customized miniverses for each brand and by favoring a long-term relationship with its clients. It assists its clients with their Web3 strategy and with the construction of a personalized and tailor-made roadmap based on the brand's DNA and business challenges. As an all-in-one web3 content management platform, it offers an attractive turnkey solution for brands, especially in the luxury sector. Finally, the company is also developing an acculturation programme to evangelize, raise awareness and educate internal staff on the subject of web3.

For its part, the start-up Wilkins Avenue AR, a specialist in augmented reality in shops and online, is also innovating with the launch of a new fully immersive and interactive technology at the NRF, in partnership with My Jolie Candle: an augmented point of sale. This will enrich the customer experience at the point of sale by offering access to product content through a single object.

The transformation of retail is therefore underway. Brands, especially in the luxury sector, must appropriate new technologies (3D, Try On, augmented and virtual reality, touchless screens, holograms, metaverse, etc.) to create a unique setting and tell a different story. A strategy aimed at accompanying their customers in an ever more personalized and empathetic way, making customer journeys more fluid by erasing friction points.

It is up to each brand to take up the challenge with maximum creativity and ingenuity in order to progress in a sustainable and productive reflection around major key notions: commitment, retention, transmission, transparency, trust, and adhesion. The race is on.

WIDE Agency is the digital agency of the Micropole group, a consultancy specializing in Digital and Data that assists major brands in the design and implementation of their digital and relational strategies to accelerate their business. Micropole is a consultancy firm specializing in data, which supports companies in their transformation from strategy to implementation.

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