Shopper-Facing Technology: Digital Engagement Tools Roundup
Consumer Goods Technology launches a new, ongoing overview of shopper-facing technology providers by presenting a list of solutions we personally encountered in the first half of 2017.
We'll be updating this list on a regular basis. Vendors who'd like to be considered for inclusion can email [email protected]
AdeptMind Inc. www.adeptmind.ai
The company uses artificial intelligence technology to improve search functionality and customer service Q&A functionality for small- to medium-size businesses. Consumers input product requirements into a search bar to receive tailored, accurate results.
3D imagery for showcasing products online that let consumers virtually experience products in realistic settings. Consumer goods clients have included Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nestle.
Automat Technologies http://www.automat.ai
The company provides "personalized one-on-one conversations at scale" through an AI-driven "conversational marketing cloud." It helped L'Oreal develop a series of beauty services for the Facebook Messenger platform. The first, the Beauty Gifter, helps consumers find the ideal gift by building a beauty profile based on answers to a series of questions.
A mobile app that's considered a leader in augmented reality-driven consumer engagement. Shoppers use their phones to scan packages or other images to receive overlays of product information or promotional offers. Clients have included General Mills, Estee Lauder and Sony. Blippar also markets solutions for employee training and other internal enterprise needs.
As part of its focus on mobile payment tools, CashStar builds branded currency and digital gifting solutions. For holiday 2016, it helped Nordstrom offer a "Product eGifting" service that lets shoppers choose a gift that recipients could later alter to suit their own preferences for size and color. (They also had the option of selecting a different gift or receiving the value of the original selection as a digital Nordstrom gift card — without the sender being notified.)
Collective Bias www.collectivebias.com
Content-centric marketing campaigns tailored for specific audiences and retailers. (Walmart is a particular sweet spot.) The company also maintains a community of roughly 8,500 social influencers that help amplify the campaigns they manage. Inmar acquired Collective Bias last winter to add more digital chops to its in-store promotional network strengths.
A consumer engagement platform combining technology and human service that delivers a unified approach across various social media including Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Google Play and YouTube. The company recently has been building out its back-end data intelligence and insights capabilities.
CoOptions Social www.cooptionssocial.com
Powered by the Activate influencer community, CoOptions Social is a marketing solution that enables clients such as Campbell Soup Co. and Olympus stage promotions through Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest with help from hundreds of targeted influencers.
Crisp Media www.crispmobile.com
Crisp MoCA — Mobile Customer Activation — is a demand-side platform designed to help brands and retailers activate point-of-sale experiences via their mobile devices. The primary emphasis is driving consumers into physical stores to purchase products. The system is fueled by data from third-party providers such as ShopLocal, Retailigence, Inmar and Coupons.com. Crisp’s ads can feature embedded coupons, circulars, product galleries and in-stock products, and can directly support store loyalty programs. (Courtesy of Path to Purchase Institute.)
The company bills its offering as "technology that thinks like a fashion editor," a reference to the fact that its employee ranks include both MIT engineers and former fashion editors. The software solution for e-commerce websites personalizes the browsing and buying experience. New users answer demographic and style questions so the system can recommendations for individual products and ensembles. They also can chat with stylists to get personalized advice. At ShopTalk in February, Everywhere hinted at a future solution for the beauty market.
FastLane Mobile Shopper www.re-vision.nl
A strategic partnership between NCR and Re-Vision reinvents the checkout experience. The NCR FastLane Mobile Shopper Powered by Re-Vision gives retailers the ability to offer their shoppers a scan-as-you-shop option, using either a store-provided device or the shopper's own iOS or Android mobile phone. After scanning items, shoppers add them to the cart and can quickly finalize the transaction by going to a designated checkout area. They can choose to pay with debit, credit, cash or on the device using their mobile wallet. The system can be linked to a shopping list and provides relevant product information. It can also be integrated with a loyalty program to actively push targeted promotions based on the shopper's own purchase history and location within the store. Deployment includes the Speedway and Rutter's c-store chains. (Courtesy of Convenience Store News)
Fetch Rewards www.fetchrewards.com
The company's original Shop Fetch mobile app for the grocery channel has 60,000 active users and 130 stores on board. Shoppers scan items as they shop using the camera on their mobile devices to gain access to proprietary coupons and earn “Fetch Points,” which are redeemable for free items at checkout. The app also provides shoppers their running points total, access to past receipts and the ability to create and maintain digital shopping lists. “Fetch’s unique mobile shopping platform, along with its partnerships with retailers, opens up a new channel for us to inspire and engage with shoppers in a meaningful and measurable way,” said Leandro Balbinot, chief information officer at Kraft Heinz North America, which has invested in the company. Unilever is helping to roll out Fetch Loyalty, a new app that lets users scan receipts from any store to earn purchase rewards.
A nationwide network of 640 interactive kiosks inside Sam's Club stores and other retail locations that offer shoppers free product samples. The units give brands a data-driven marketing platform and shoppers an in-store destination that also includes interactive, multi-media content. The device is active using the Freeosk app or the retailer's loyalty card. (Courtesy of Path to Purchase Institute)
Freshub Smart Connected Kitchen www.freshub.com
Basically, this device is a supermarket-specific version of Amazon's Alexa. The idea is that consumers will buy a Freshub from their favorite grocer and then have a direct connection to their local store to find out what's on sale, look up recipes, get personalized product offers based on their purchase history and preferences, and directly place orders for home delivery or curbside pickup. Ahold USA's Peapod e-grocer is one of the early adopters; NCR and IRI are technology and marketing partners.
A mobile app that lets users track and share apparel and style ideas within their own personal networks — or with their favorite retailers. The app's "connected closet" begins with the user tagging every item in her wardrobe (which usually takes four to six hours, according the company) to create a data profile that they then share. As of March 2017, the app had 2,600 active users and roughly 10,000 downloads.
One of the more successful grocery shopping apps in operation, iBotta has generated more than 15 million downloads. Brands engage consumers with fresh, relevant content and gamified interactions, including retailer-exclusive offers through a network of 500,000-plus stores. Messages can be tailored based on shopper geo-location and past purchase behavior. A behind-the-curtain suite of analytics tools delivers consumer research studies, market insight reports and media attribution analysis.
The company works with multiple vendor partners to offer virtual fitting rooms and other in-store technology. A beauty kiosk that lets shoppers virtually try on cosmetics at the shelf was reportedly tested by Walmart in select stores this spring.
An open, end-to-end version of the Amazon Dash button that lets brands select their own retail partner — or fulfill the orders themselves. The IoT platform connects retailers, brands and fulfillment providers. Consumers don't pay for the buttons (Kwik gets a piece of the transaction action.) A Tel Aviv-based company, Kwik is looking beyond consumer goods to other frequent purchases like restaurants and taxi services. Anheuser-Busch and Kimberly-Clark are among interested companies, according to media reports.
Lift 'n Learn Customer Experience Station www.toshibacommerce.com
This offering from Toshiba Commerce presents relevant multi-media content on a digital screen when shoppers pick up a product from an in-store display. Brookstone was an early adopter.
The company provides virtual reality simulations through multiple formats: full showrooms, display augmentations, and even mobile phones. But Marxent envisions a retail future in which virtual simulations serve as environments for co-operative advertising and brand placement in addition to letting consumers experience products in natural settings.
The company's platform helps brands build a unique presence and provide a seamless shopping experience through a consumer-facing mobile app and a host of supporting systems. It's probably safe to assume that NewStore has quality technology and analytics chops: founder Stephan Schambach also founded Demandware. Currently focused on luxury brands and vertically integrated retailers.
A white-label virtual reality platform designed to provide an economical, "one-stop solution" for the fashion industry. The company's stated goal is to be become the "Shopify of VR shopping." Early clients have included Samsung, which hosted a virtual show for New York Fashion Week. The platform also delivers back-end analytics.
Perch Interactive www.perchinteractive.com
In-store displays with under-the-table technology that delivers relevant content triggered by product touches. Perch also creates the content, and operates supporting cloud and analytics services for the resulting data. Clients include Unilever and Absolut.
Point Inside www.pointinside.com
Software embedded into the retailer's own app helps shoppers navigate the store more efficiently, find the products on their lists, check inventory levels and receive relevant promotional offers — all the while collecting data in their activity. Point Inside as worked with Target, Lowe's and Meijer.
The company builds software-enabled displays of various sizes (starting with price labels) with constant power supplies and two-way communication capabilities to manage advertising, merchandising and pricing services. The system can also report out of stocks.
PrizeLogic bills itself as the "largest independent promotion marketing technology company." Its software engine handles a range of options for sweepstakes, instant-win games, user-generated contests, loyalty programs, social aggregation tools and e-commerce offers.
A digital coupon management platform that covers print-at-home, mobile, mail-to-home and other types of programs and offers. Analytics capabilities include real-time campaign monitoring. The platform can be integrated with customer relationship platforms from Salesforce, NetSuite and other third parties.
A financial platform that streamlines the returns experience by giving shoppers store credit before they even return the products. Returnly "fronts" the money through an online wallet that can only be used to repurchase items from the same brand. The company won a startup pitch at the ShopTalk conference last March, but it already has more than 400 clients.
A one-to-one digital promotions tool that leverages shopper intelligence to deliver smart coupon offers. The omnichannel solution measures the impact of digital marketing on in-store sales by providing transaction-based attribution metrics. The promotions are deployed across devices and channels including display, social, email and search.
A paperless coupon platform enabling single and multi-transaction offers. The unique "One or Many" program encourages loyalty by rewarding shoppers for multiple-item purchases over the course of one or more shopping trips to different retailers. The "Boost" program extends rewards for buying specific products, watching a video or sharing information. SavingStar's aggregated insights database helps tailor the offers.
Sensors placed on in-store product displays first track executional compliance. But they also providing a real-time view of shopper behavior such as aisle traffic, dwell time and conversion rates. In conjunction with the retailer's app, they also can send coupon offers, product reviews and other content to passing shoppers, creating an interactive and measurable experience. Shelfbucks ran 30 live campaigns in 2016.
A pioneering rewards-based shopping app that launched in 2009. A couple of million consumers use the app to earn rewards for undertaking normal activity, including browsing content, watching videos, creating shopping lists, walking into stores, picking up products from the shelf and making purchases. Earned "kicks" are redeemed for free premium gifts and store gift cards. Shopkick has worked with more than 300 brands and operates in roughly 360,000 retail locations.
An in-store mobile advertising solution built to drive new product awareness, amplifying in-store promotions, and enhance coupon redemption. The ShopperBridge Platform verifies the location of a consumer’s mobile device and then serves relevant ads.
Technology that lets digital ads bypass the typical brand or product page to send clicking consumers right into the shopping cart of a partnering retailer. SmartCommerce believes that skipping the brand page can increase conversion and help shift the purchase decision away from price comparison to convenience.
Snipp Interactive www.snipp.com
Snipp offers a broad suite of digital engagement tools for loyalty marketing, rebates, receipt-processing, promotions, and data analytics. The goal is to improve sales and customer engagement while building a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Brand clients have included Anheuser-Busch, Crayola and U by Kotex.
Softbank Robotics www.softbankrobotics.com
"Pepper" is a fully autonomous "humanoid robot" designed to engage with people and deliver product information and other content. The surprisingly endearing robot recognizes demographics and even some emotion and adapts its behavior and content delivery to match the mood to some degree.
True Fit www.truefit.com
The company offers a personalization platform for footwear and apparel retailers and brands that uses rich connected data and machine learning to enable personal experiences. It claims to have the fashion industry's largest database, with information from millions of consumers. In-store activations include Clients include Nordstrom, Macy's, Under Armour and Levi's.