In the last year, our business has struck two exclusive partnerships with leading global retail specialists to launch a shopper technology platform that will engage customers, deliver enhanced in-store experiences and analyse the consumers’ path to purchase for Australian retailers.

However, it isn’t our suggestion that every retailer must flip a switch and convert their stores into a digital theme park. On the contrary, technology must not be implemented for the sake of so-called innovation, it has to have a purpose.

Innovation isn’t technology. Innovation is new and great ideas, realised.

The realisation of innovation is perhaps the most daunting challenge for our retail brands, as they face hundreds of options in technologies, agencies, and not to mention the most talked about competitor of our time, Amazon.

Each retailer has a different journey ahead of them and it’s not about mirroring Amazon, believe it or not, it’s about connecting with your customer whilst maintaining the authenticity of your brand story.

“We have a responsibility to humanity with technology. It’s so important that we focus on people…I get a lot of people coming to me with robots that can sell things …but there’s no context about how that’s going to help me or the people I serve.” John Vary, Innovation Manager, John Lewis

Human connection must always come before technology. Whilst I fully believe in the power and place of machine learning in the future of the retail industry, we cannot lose what people desire the most, and that is the primal need for social interaction. We talk about ‘touch points’ a lot in retail marketing, but the most important message is that we cannot replicate the experience of a human touch in an algorithm.

Now, I know there will be a lot of people throwing their arms in the air in dispute of this last statement. That the smarts of our technology platforms can deliver a customer with items they would like to purchase based on their browsing history, however, that algorithm cannot (yet) provide you with a reassuring smile in the dressing room and a confidence boost on the jacket you just tried on, and even if it could, would we want a robotic replacement for that?

The best result must be the technologies that complement human experience. The combination of human creativity and smart technologies would undoubtedly result in the most powerful and immersive experience for our customers.

Jemma Caprioli – Chief Customer Officer at Dashing

Published on May 24, 2017