NEW ORLEANS, La. — Retail stores struggle to replicate the information-rich experience of shopping online. A new retail store concept on display this week at Microsoft’s Envision conference seeks to change that experience using a combination of Kinect motion sensors, touchscreens and digital displays.
Developed as a prototype store concept by Italian grocer Coop, the “supermarket of the future” uses Kinect sensors to detect which products a customer is pointing at or looking at, and then displays more in-depth information about the product on eye-level displays.
The retailer is able to provide details such as detailed vintage information for a wine, where particular produce was grown or in-depth nutritional information.
Sensor-enabled display shelves also open up a whole new set of data that retailers can analyze, identifying products that customer frequently interact with or identifying shelves that need to be re-stocked.
I tried out the sensor-enabled shelves and displays on the show floor today. The displays were responsive and certainly made for a more compelling shopping experience than the monolithic shelving of a typical store. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if this experience will be provided via mobile devices, rather than outfitting stores with potentially expensive display technology like this.
The “supermarket of the future” concept was developed by Accenture and Avanade, using platform technologies from Microsoft and Intel. While this initial proof of concept was for a grocery store, the sensors and displays could easily be applied to other retail environments, such as clothing, electronics or other types of goods.