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5 Retail Innovations to Dissuade Complacency

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by Startacus Admin

We have been shopping for hundreds of years.

We’re fairly sure how it works. Yet even the retail industry in which we participate practically daily can be improved upon and be a platform for innovation. It just goes to show that all business is evolving, always. Here for example, are five retail innovations that show us that we should never rest on our laurels.

retail innovation


Creepy mannequins staring at you from shop windows with their cold, dead, plastic eyes may soon be a thing of the past. These soulless grotesques will be relegated to the dingy storage rooms encountered only in horror films or your dreams, and taking the role of ‘Mummy, why is that lady staring at me’ instead will be i.Dummy.

Originally created by Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University, i.Dummy is a one-size-fits-all mannequin that combines mechatronics and anthropometrics to allow it to represent almost any body shape and measurement. It is also a great example of how a simple idea can quietly revolutionise an industry.

However, shop displays may be where i.Dummy will be least useful. Garment makers and fitters will need only one mannequin to create clothes for all sizes. Rather than having a model stand for hours at a time getting pins stuck in her, a dress maker can input her exact measurements to the i.Dummy.


Retail Innovation

In Store 3-D Printing...

Supermarket chain
Asda is offering 3D printing of…you. Just stand still for a 12-second scan and soon you will be immortalised in tiny, ceramic form. Your 7-inch figurine comes in full colour, with a few extra options such as ‘costume’.

While the price makes it a little unrealistic for a spur of the moment purchase, this is a unique memento to capture a significant event or memory, or even as an extra special gift to those family members who always badger you for photographs.

With 3D printing becoming invaluable in various sectors, we can be pretty sure that this and other supermarket chains pondering the uses of the technology won’t stop at simple mementos.

Virtual and augmented reality...

retail innovation

We’ve previously discussed how virtual reality will shape the future, however it could also improve the way you shop for certain things. Already, in Japan, there are shops that scan your body and allow you to try on clothing virtually, even simulating the way the material moves as you do.

Seeing a new kitchen, bathroom or three-piece suite in a showroom is one thing, but being able to put on a headset and actually see these things in your home could be the difference between securing the perfect new furniture and making a costly mistake. Or of course simply walking away empty-handed.

Amazon Dash Buttons...

If typing your favourite brand of shaving cream into Amazon and clicking ‘buy now’ is too much like hard work, why not stick a Dash Button next to your bathroom mirror? With a single push of that button, the linked product will be purchased from the online megastore and delivered to you the next day. Also check out the Dominos “Easy Order” button that we featured recently.

Although you must be an Amazon Prime member, and the Dash Buttons are linked to specific products, it could be pretty useful and stress-free for busy people. Of course, there are downsides. Smart fridges that place orders for you when food items get low never really took off, and how many of these buttons can you have dotted about before their ease is invalidated? Still, it could be the start of something big.


iBeacon is, in case you couldn’t guess from the name, an Apple technology. Basically, iBeacon technology allows Mobile Apps to pick up on signals from beacons around them and react according to the app’s settings. In other words, if you are using thisiBeacon technology, you might walk into a shop and be alerted to the fact that the item you almost bought on your last visit is now at a reduced price, or the staff will be alerted that you have arrived to pick up your order.

In 2014, startup Localz won John Lewis’s first technology business incubator, JLab. Localz combines iBeacons with other technologies such as WiFi, GPS, NFC, QR codes, and various other letter combinations to allow retailers to interact with the customer in new ways.

We’ve seen this kind of personalised marketing and tracking in science fiction films time and again, and given how much it can benefit retailers as well as customers, it is no wonder Localz won JLab by making it a reality.

Written by Ross Harrison

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Published on: 9th March 2016

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