As I was walking the Shop.org 2017 trade show floor last week, I thought to myself, “Damn, there is a lot to process here. Where is Jennifer Love Hewitt, the Ghost Whisperer, when I need her?”
Jennifer Love Hewitt was the “it” girl for dorky Stanford guys in 1999. Already a success with Party of Five and the criminally underappreciated Can’t Hardly Wait, Jennifer elevated her status in 2005 even further, as none other than . . . the Ghost Whisperer.
Now, often times, in seeking clarity and in homage to Jennifer and what she meant to my youth, I ask myself one simple, consonant-laden question: “WWJLHTGWD? — i.e. What would Jennifer Love Hewitt the Ghost Whisperer Do?”
And, boy did JLH speak to me last week at Shop.org, my friends.
Want to know what she said?
She said, “Let the tech speak to you, Chris.”
Duh. She IS the ghost whisperer.
So that’s what I did. I walked the floor, stood oddly by booths, and let the tech speak to me. Many people thought I was weird, saying things like, “Can I help you, sir?” or quizzically asking, “What is Omni Talk?”
Undaunted, I soldiered on, put my pride aside, and placed my ear to the proverbial ground of the booths to let the spirit move me, C+C Music Factory style.
My efforts paid off. I left the show with renewed clarity.
I got back to Minneapolis, after my urban rooster wake up call, and said to myself, “You’ve been riding the omnichannel bike for four years now. Just write down what interests you.”
So that is what I share with you today. I put together the below list of technologies that I either saw at the show or that have come into my view over the last few years. Some are well-known, while others are not.
Also, please remember, I am not a technologist (I don’t even try to play one on TV). My focus is on omnichannel product management and operations — the blending of the physical and the digital worlds.
The technologies I highlight below are interesting as potential indications into the evolution of the consumer experience within the physical world. Some might have immediate applicability for many retailers, while others may simply be indicative of spaces or types of technologies that definitively merit deeper exploration.
Also I have no formal affiliations with any of these companies. I just find them neat (scientific term).
Here it goes. My list of the tech that speaks to me like Jennifer Love Hewitt (in no particular order).
Slyce (visual search and commerce)
- Doing what Amazon is doing with their visual recognition technology in their app, but for the rest of us
StyleSage (data analytics)
- Bridging the gap between e-commerce and the physical to bring Moneyball theory to retail — i.e. increasing a retailer’s product selection batting average by mining worldwide e-commerce data
- Both companies bring a new world of mobile, in-store financing into clear view
Delivery Solutions (last mile delivery)
- Software solution that enables retailers to schedule and manage white label last mile delivery from a variety of delivery providers, including complicated alcohol deliveries
Oak Labs, Inc. (in-store omnichannel operating systems)
- Great smart mirror technology, and more importantly Oak Labs understands the ethos of what a new physical/digital in-store operating system could be (plus, the actor in their demo video is outstanding. He takes walking with a hangar to new heights — he doesn’t even look like he’s acting. He’s like Harrison Ford as a bellhop)
FINDMINE (AI-powered outfit recommendations)
- AI solution that deploys easily within retailers’ apps to recommend styling and outfit recommendations for consumers — great tool for basket building
Kinetica (data processing)
- Solution that leverages the GPU rather than the CPU to speed up data processing and analytics (I may not be a technologist, but damn writing that sounded cool!)
Perseus Mirrors (at home digital commerce)
- Smart mirror technology for your closet and bathroom, or as I like to call it, your soon to be Alexa-enabled technology for your closet or bathroom.
Theatro (sales associate tools and operations)
- “Heads Up” personal assistant for store employees
Brandlive (content production)
- Live video streaming for retailers, from product demos to training videos — interesting concept in the world of user-generated, always on commerce
Olapic (content production and management)
- Software that mines a brand’s social media presence and then pivots user-generated content to create authentic, community-generated brand expressions for retailers
Qualcomm — Lumicast (lighting and location tracking)
- In-store lighting that enables a tie-in between scan-and-go mobile shopping with location tracking and analytics
Perch (shelf technology)
- Shelf technology that enables retailers to celebrate the physical through creative, digitally expressive product displays
- Super fast tools and processes for high-quality fashion styling
Digital Mortar (location tracking and analytics)
- Easy to deploy location tracking solution to turn a retailer’s salesfloor into the analytical equivalent of an e-commerce browser
Invertex (mobile 3-D measurement system)
- Solution that sits inside a retailers app to take measurements of consumers and easily extends the aisle — immediate applicability in children’s shoe shopping
Please let me know what you think of the list, and let me know who else is on your mind too. Omni Talk is meant to be a refuge, a safe place to share ideas. All are welcome.
Be careful out there,
P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Omni Talk below and to make sure you receive the final installment in the series — Part IV: 3 Simple Ways to Make Retail Trade Shows Even More Katy Perry Sharktastic.
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P.P.S. If you enjoyed the above, you will really love this moment of zen (click on the screen shot below):
P.P.P.S. Travel Note of the Week #3: I flew Spirit Airlines for the first time out to Shop.org for only $80 round trip. Loved it. For that price I’m good without my peanuts and my drink with toilet water ice.
Chris Walton is an accomplished Senior Executive with nearly 20 years of success within the retail and retail technology industries. He is well-versed in merchandising, store operations, inventory management, product design, forecasting, e-commerce, pricing and promotions, and tech product development.
Chris was most recently a Vice President with Target, where he led the retailer’s Store of the Future project and also ran the Target’s home furnishing division for e-commerce. He previously worked for GAP, Inc., as a Distribution Analyst and Manager.
Chris holds a BA in Economics and History from Stanford University, and a MBA from Harvard Business School.
He likes to dress as Darth Vader for Halloween, and his wife also frequently asks him to ask Alexa, "to turn off the music."