Revamping Retail

Revamping Retail

By : Khadija Azhar

 

Smart Retail incubator Eureka Nova wants to reinvent the consumer experience

 

The future of consumerism and retail is often imagined as a world where our needs are anticipated and met, customized to suit our exact preferences. This vision means more than online shopping: think stores with curated sounds and smells, fitting rooms with AI personal stylists, and even cashier-less stores where facial recognition technology allows you to pay for your purchases. 

 

Some of these technologies are already in use. Skincare brand SK-II recently announced a smart retail integration that can scan a product picture from a shopper’s smartphone and direct the customer to the right part of the store. From the retailer’s side, many are using beacons that can send product or promotional information to smartphones in the area. 

 

As is often the case with disruptive innovation, startups are left to fill gaps in the industry. In the case of the cohort of startups from Eureka Nova’s Smart Retail incubation program, they’re targeting everything from creating custom apparel using body scanning technology to VR-powered interior design. 

 

The program is backed by one of Hong Kong’s leading conglomerates, New World Development (NWD), so the startups have been able to take advantage of NWD’s department stores and industry connections to pilot their technologies. This is Eureka Nova’s second cohort, and the first in partnership with Chinese tech titan, Tencent. 

 

Featuring 15 startups (pictured on the left), this cohort hints at the promising future of smart retail.

 

ConfigReality has developed a “mixed reality redirected walking algorithm,” which allows users to physically explore virtual spaces by altering their sense of direction and location. It uses VR to transcend spatial constraints and enlarge a given area, regardless of its physical boundaries. Such technology can potentially improve marketing mechanisms within the retail industry. For example, interior designers can use it to design spaces for their customers to interact with in a virtual setting.

 

Homey also uses virtual environments to help customers design their own spaces with products they can purchase within the app. It promises an immersive VR experience that renders location immaterial; customers can alter any aspect of their virtual showroom to fit their preferences. Once satisfied with the design, they can then purchase their preferred furnishings, completing an effortless O2O experience.

 

Online fashion platform Kalon Couture is another startup working to transform the retail industry. Traditionally, online shoppers are often met with sizing and availability issues. Kalon intends to sidestep this pain point by using 3D body scanning and automatic patterning technology to create made-to-measure garments. Each customer is given a personal 3D avatar that they can use to try on outfits virtually. Not only does the company promise a perfect fit, but it also allows access to designers from all over the world, providing all designers an opportunity to profit from their craft.

 

Other startups in the cohort include:

 

  • Moodie: Research engine that analyzes customer responses to supplement survey data
  • Smart Retail: IoT automated retail, interactive marketing, and big data platform 
  • GoodScan: Smart logistics and warehouse management system
  • Egaga: Smart hotel services
  • Yanwei: Beverage platform that solves the last-mile problem of dining
  • Yundong: Cloud service operator for offline merchants
  • Vision Intelligent: Smart image-recognition technology for the retail industry (pictured on the right)
  • C-Radar: Commercial intelligence platform based on big data and AI 
  • Coolhobo: Mobile AR platform used in stores to make shopping effortless
  • Infinite Innovation: One-stop solution for unstaffed retail store operators 
  • Square Ark: Social commerce platform and marketplace
  • Loop: Free-to-use digital marketing platform for SMEs

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