Every year for two days the world’s leading retail technology experts diverge on Kensington Olympia for a cacophony of intelligent robots, mind bending digital signs, holograms, fingerprint scanners and virtual reality headsets.
This year the annual Retail Expo was even bigger than usual, for the first time combining Retail Business Technology Expo (RTBE), Retail Design Expo (RDE) and Retail Digital Signage Expo (RDSE) into one humongous show.
Charged seized the opportunity to explore the event, seeking out the most exciting and promising technologies currently making waves in the retail industry.
Advanced Robots – Promobot
In fitting style we’ve started our list with a near life size-robot from Advanced Robots, which has recently been made available in the UK.
Promobot is fully autonomous and will move within any given radius on a constructed map in store, taking itself to its charging station when it low on battery.
Practically the robot can approach customers, gather data and generate leads for any retailer or shopping mall who invests.
The most important element of Promobot though is how much fun customers can have with it, and how many passers by will stop and interact with it, shaking its hand and asking it questions.
Vocovo – Call Point
Voice technology has been a buzzword for a while, but Vocovo’s Callpoint technology represents a different take on voice applications in retail.
Callpoints are designed to be installed around a retail store, and customers can press it to immediately contact a member of store staff to request assistance with a purchase or finding a product.
Once the button has been pressed, the customer can engage in a two-way conversation with staff, and are even integrated with point of sale.
It also has applications at click-and-collect points, in changing rooms to request different sizes or products, and even at delivery bay’s for drivers to alert staff that a delivery has arrived.
Ingenico – Biometric Card Machine
Biometric credit and debit cards have made headlines recently, with Natwest launching a trial of the product last month.
Payments giant Ingenico is set to use biometrics in a different way, instead integrating a fingerprint scanner into the card payment machine rather than the card itself.
With the rise of contactless cards, payment security has never been more important, and biometric authentication is set to become the next major advancement in the sector.
Not only does it offer fingerprint scanning as a form of authentication, but Ingenico also offers card payment devices which use facial recognition technology, much like you use to unlock your phone.
Its potential goes far beyond just payments, making cost effective biometric authentication available for governments to track attendance and manage voting.
Samsung’s Bezel-less LED displays
Samsung’s stand at this year’s Retail Expo was pretty hard to miss thanks to its giant LED installation, demonstrating just what can be achieved with this technology.
Though LED technology has been around for around a decade, it is only recently that retailers have begun really exploring its potential to create stunning displays.
According to Samsung’s head of display Damon Crowhurst, many retailers have previously been put off by the price and poor quality of LED displays largely imported from China.
Crowhurst has made it his mission “raise the bar” and demonstrate the potential of LED displays and its stunning instalment at the expo was a great way to start.
Not will the technology reportedly be the same price as video displays within around 18 months, but Samsung offers giant LED displays without bezels, allowing for seamless displays in almost any shape.
Long gone are the days when signage was purely functional in retail, Samsung has now proven that signage itself serve as an attraction for retailers.
Magnwall’s LED E-Mannequins
Exhibitors at this year’s Retail Expo explored ways to improve every minute aspect of retail, and the humble mannequin was not forgotten.
In a retail environment where every detail must be geared towards creating a unique experience for the customer, Magnwall has found a way to transform display fixtures into attractions of their own.
Its e-mannequins, developed alongside Genesis Display, come with integrated lights and displays which run across the futuristic helmets of the mannequins.
Aside from providing some of the most striking Daft Punk-esque visuals you’re ever likely to see in a store, these mannequins come with easily interchangeable props and accessories, which, as the company’s name suggests, are held on magnetically.
Furthermore Magnwall offers customised mannequins for retailers upon request, offering personalised displays and cable free technology.