A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
- Since 2013, Coca-Cola Co. has been celebrating the holidays with its polar bears, so naturally, the bears are making their way into digital ad tools. This season, consumers could scan various Coca-Cola cans and bottles with their Apple or Google phones to open up different augmented reality scenes in the phone, including seeing the polar bears come to life in a light show and battle in a snowball fight. When two cans get scanned together, the polar bears play “Jingle Bells” on glass bottles. Coca-Cola worked with the San Francisco-based Tactic to develop the AR experiences. Coca-Cola said it’s the “first large-scale” AR program by the beverage company.
- Walmart turned its printed Christmas toy catalogue into a dynamic shopping experience this year by leveraging Beaverton, Oregon-based Digimarc Corp.’s platform, which digitally tags items in the catalog so they can be scanned by the Walmart app to be purchased immediately online. The “Scan & Shop powered by Digimarc” technology is being promoted within the 35 million printed catalogs that are available in Walmart’s nearly 4,800 stores. The catalog, with its scannable technology function, includes early deals and items to buy for the holiday. Walmart integrated the Digimarc SDK into the Walmart app so users can scan the bar code in the catalog to open up the interactive feature. The two companies are also working together, based on an announcement in April, to use the bar code on packaging to help reduce food waste and automating a lot of the fresh food inventory process.
- Denver-based Locai Solutions, an e-commerce solutions provider for retailers, has partnered with Wakefern to build out a meal planning e-commerce tool for its shoppers under the ShopRite banner. (Later in the year, Wakefern will roll out the tech to its The Fresh Grocer banner.) The Locai platform, called CookIt, leverages a combination of menu planning tools and ways to buy fresh foods with one click. ShopRite will call its new e-commerce solution The Recipe Shop and it will be found at ShopRite.com/recipeshop. The tool looks at what those users are shopping for online and can suggest personalized recipes, as well as pricing out that recipe so the shopper knows how much it will cost on the site. In addition, there are more than 500 recipes that any user can access as well.
- By scanning QR codes on select packages of Pepsi packages, users can unlock a digital scratch-off game from PepsiCo that can award consumers money from as little as $5 to as much as $25,000 that they can instantly give to a friend or charity. Pepsi continues to tap into some engaging digital programs with its packaging, such as a recent AR-enabled summer program on Pepsi bottles that scanned codes to add stickers to Instagram posts. The new “Gift it Forward” program has shoppers scan the QR code, but they must get three matching globes in the game to unlock cash.
- Propeller Health, a digital health company that helps consumers suffering from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), announced that its mobile app will now include access to the pharmacy at CVS, Walmart, Kroger and Rite-Aid. Users can make in-app prescription refills or locate a nearby pharmacy, all while continuing to use the app that offers important services like connecting a consumer’s inhaler to deliver insights on medication use, as well as information about symptom triggers and environmental factors that can cause harm. They can then consult with their physician and form better treatment plans.
- Shopify is designing e-commerce for email, rolling out a new tool to help retailers who sell over its platform to build, manage and track email marketing programs through Shopify. Currently, a select group of retailers using Shopify have access to customizable email templates and assets to roll out email initiatives to boost sales over the platform. The new Spotify tool comes with measurements on click-through rates and what products are being added to a shopping cart and purchased, as well as email opens.
SPOTLIGHT: At the Shelf
Sally Beauty Supply rolled out a virtual try-on tool for shoppers to engage with in stores. The tool helps shoppers discover new hair colors or makeup looks. The tool, called ColorView, is available either at the kiosk or on the retailer’s Apple or Google mobile app. Consumers answer three questions to narrow down into some AI-powered color suggestions. Then through the camera in the in-store unit or the user’s phone, augmented reality technology overlays the new colors to virtually test out before buying.
“The app accomplishes augmented reality by using a proprietary set of artificial intelligence libraries to perform facial recognition, facial mapping and real-time biometric tracking using our customer’s smartphone,” Joe Brenner, group vice president and chief information officer, Sally Beauty Supply, said in a news release.
When shoppers try on a virtual color, the product or shade is automatically added to the user’s shopping list in the mobile phone. From there, the user can add it to a cart to purchase or save it for later. Engagement with the app was available immediately, while the kiosk will be in more than 500 stores within a few months.
Through its Quincy, Mass.-based services company Retail Business Services, Ahold Delhaize announced it was piloting a frictionless, small-format store concept called Lunchbox, similar to concepts previously covered in P2P Toolkit from Amazon Go, Grabango and Standard Cognition.
Paul Scorza, executive vice president of IT, and CIO, Retail Business Services, said with the concept they considered themselves to be fast followers, looking at the technology other companies have tested (such as overhead computer vision cameras and shelf sensors) and implemented at a lower cost. The company partnered with UST Global, a digital solutions company. Both will demo the product at National Retail Federation Big Show next month.
For Ahold, the Lunchbox frictionless concept is being tested at the Retail Business Services office. The cafeteria was being remodeled and Lunchbox was rolled in, serving 1,000 associates. About a dozen shoppers can shop at once inside the small shop. For now, using the proprietary Retail Business Services app, shoppers scan the phone to check into the store, grab items and go. The technology tracks shoppers at the shelf, knowing what was selected. It automatically charges the shopper’s credit card linked to the app.