‘Brick and mortar’ needs more ‘silicone and solder’

Written by: Michael Konchalski, Chief Technology Officer, All Things Media

I am a modern consumer. I research products extensively for all my purchases, especially if it’s a large ticket item (appliance, vehicle, etc.). I study everything from customer reviews to price fluctuations, and I’ll admit that I’ve Googled “Best Time to buy ”.

Eventually, I make my way to a purchase, either online or in store (after all, sometimes you just need to feel the product in your hands before spending your hard-earned money).

The fact is that the modern consumer isn’t going away anytime soon, and from my perspective is set to evolve again over the next 5 to 7 years.

Last week, I introduced the concept of the AR Cloud, the unseen virtual world that exists in a persistent, platform-agnostic state. How does this affect the modern consumer? Well, it allows someone to see real-time information about objects in the real world. For retail stores, this could mean that consumers walking by a display window or case might see real-time reviews and details about the cashmere sweater in the window, or maybe the mannequin comes to life and does a 360 degree turn to show you how great it looks. This is just one example of how technology will evolve with the modern consumer.

This leads me to my assessment that brick and mortar stores need more silicone and solder in them. If this sounds like clickbait, the point I am trying to make is that more technology needs to be brought into the physical retail environment. I’m not talking about pick-up lockers or even self-checkout lines; they work and have value. I’m talking about robotics, Computer Vision systems, biometrics, and when they make sense, XR experiences.

Let’s focus on Computer Vision, or CV for short. At a high level, CV is literally a discipline in computer science that works to give computers the ability to see. Specifically, enabling a computer to see the way that a human would see. The technology is being used in everything from autonomous cars to image processing to identify a person’s face on Facebook or Google Photos.

Using a CV system, a store can quickly determine when check-out lines are too long, silently alerting store employees they need to assist at checkout. This technology also could enhance a facial recognition system that identifies me and custom tailors display ads based on my profile, or automatically enters my customer loyalty number at checkout. Soon, such a system might even assess sentiment and identify if I am upset, prompting a store associate to come and assist me.

These are all great in theory and have major implications for the consumer experience, but they are not possible without the ‘silicone and solder’ in the cameras, computers, smart devices for store associates, and other electronic devices needed to achieve these experiences.

We are at the start of the next Industrial Revolution, living in the age of information. Now is the time to start thinking about how brick and mortar stores can evolve with new consumers’ needs.

If you have a retail space that could use a digital makeover, we want to hear from you. Click here to get in touch with our team and learn how ATM can assist your business!