Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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TECHNOLOGY 322 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 the paths surrounding the center." In the shopping center setting, these "clicks" would be taps on the transparent, thin, flexible, yet durable glass manufac- tured by companies like Corning, which imagines a variety of retail uses for its glass technologies. "Retail jumped all over us, it wasn't vice versa," says Ryan Flannery, manager at Corning Incorporated in Palo Alto, California. "Many high-end retailers are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition. Lots of these brands have images that are very tech-forward, and they want this aesthetic to carry over into their stores." MIRROR, MIRROR One way retailers are differentiating themselves nowadays is through the use of interactive dressing rooms and vir- tual mirror displays. Corning provided the interactive screens that line design- er Rebecca Minkoff's 2,000-square-foot flagship store in New York City's Soho neighborhood. The screens, which are powered by eBay, look like standard mir- rors inside a dressing room…until they're tapped. At that point, they come to life. The customer can place an order for a free coffee or champagne. He or she can also flip through a digital "look book," request additional items from a sales associate and even bookmark items to try on later. "What I've learned from conversing with retailers is it's really important to stand out and create a compelling in- store experience," Flannery continues. "It's also a no-brainer for a retailer to take all the effort that's gone into developing content online and double dip. Use that content in the physical store." The ability to access products and more information from the privacy of a dress- ing room also cuts out the middle man, or what can sometimes be perceived as a "pushy" sales associate. "You now have much more ability to browse by yourself without having to in- teract with, or track down, an in-store sales clerk," Flannery notes. "That's something people enjoy about online shopping. It's at your leisure. You can dig in as deep as you like for certain products. Or not. It's up to you." The wonders of fitting room technol- ogy don't end there. Companies like Samsung and Panasonic are also creating interactive mirror prototypes that allow shoppers to "try on" a variety of prod- ucts through augmented reality. These mirrors can digitally overlay products like shoes, apparel, jewelry and even makeup to show a consumer what the item might look like on them through a technology referred to as self-modeling. This mirrored technology is so ad- vanced and precise it can even analyze a consumer's skin type before recommend- ing products. "Following CES this year, we've already received a number of inquiries from re- tailers, including cosmetics, department stores and high-end fashion houses, about our Interactive Mirror prototype," says Jeff Pinc, director of sales for Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. "Retailers recognize that an interactive mirror not only provides that 'wow' factor for customers in-store, but it's also a useful tool to help sell product." Pinc notes Panasonic's prototype can, for example, recognize dry skin and then point out a sunscreen or moisturizer that targets this problem. It can also track the progression of crow's feet or smile lines over time, which enables customers to track how effective a product is or isn't. MAPPING THE FUTURE Speaking of track- ing, the latest state- of-the-art stores are tracking you. Yes, some of this is done through the use of security cameras and LTE networks that connect phones to the stores. The ma- jority, however, is being done through an innovative technique called heat map- ping. Samsung and its partnership with an asset management platform from Time- forge, for example, can help owners track their staff on the sales floor by analyzing hot and cold spots within the store. The Pinc Samsung's OLED wall. Digital signage can help with everything from product choice to purchases.

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