The Perspective 
Wednesday, 04 March 2015

A year later, retailers are reporting positive results from iBeacon campaigns. There are, however, still challenges from the caveats associated with  iBeacons.

Specifically, customers must be iPhone users. They must download the retailers’ app. They must enable Wifi on their phone and opt-in to receive notifications. Many consumers are not willing to opt-in because they have privacy concerns about retailers collecting their data. Physical Cookie gives retailers and their customers the benefits of iBeacons without having to meet all of these requirements.

What is Physical Cookie?

Physical Cookie is a RFID-tag within a piece of plastic, usually on a key-fob,  which retailers can give to their customers as they shop. The customer puts Physical Cookie in their pocket and then has to take no additional steps. Electric readers are then placed around the retail store. The Physical Cookie key-fob collects data in real-time in the same way cookies on websites do (hence the name). Digital screens within the store, show customers advertisements based on their behavior. Customers do not sign up or register, so there are no privacy concerns involved. Physical Cookie has operated in the Citycenter shopping mall in Helsinki, as part of a trial since Fall 2014.

Physical Cookie is easier for the consumer to use than iBeacons. Unlike the Bluetooth technology used for iBeacons, Physical Cookie is always on. Instead of pinging a user’s phone, the actual retail environment reacts to the consumers behavior, which feels much less spammy.

The Physical Cookie Customer Loyalty Program

In the Citycenter trial, a customer loyalty program called VIP-key was launched. The VIP-keys were given to 14,000 randomly selected customers who were then automatically part of a loyalty program, without ever having to opt-in, register, or sign up for anything. The trial was in a shopping center but Physical Cookie has said this can work for both retail chains and for brands working within big-box retailers.

While this trial was conducted using Physical Cookies in a key-fob format, the company said in the future this does not necessarily have to be the case. The key-fob format was selected with the thought process that customers enter the shopping center with their wallet, mobile phone, and keys with them. The average customers wallet is already full of loyalty cards, and mobile phones would require opt-in. The key chain was chosen instead because it does not already have any smart device on it.


  •     The VIP-key cost the equivalent of about two cents in US Dollars.
  •     15% of the VIP-keys were active.
  •     They showed a 14.5% increase in activity between floors.
  •     There a was a 21.7% increase in time spent in the shopping center.

For more information on enhancing your customers’ retail experience, please visit our About page.

Photo Credit: Physical Cookie

Posted by: Admin AT 10:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Jessica Glynn
Reality Interactive

Fitting rooms can be one of the most dreaded parts of a shopping trip for the customer. For the retailer it is one of the most important. So how can brands enhance the experience for shoppers? One solution we see popping up is digital mirrors.

According to “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill, shoppers are twice as likely to buy if they use a dressing room. Dressing room enhancements should be a top priority for retail stores as they make enhancements coming out of the recession. Digital mirrors are just one of the ways retailers can do this. Digital mirrors create an interactive experience for customers. Luxury brands are already testing digital mirrors in their stores.

Neiman Marcus

The MemoMi Memory Mirror is a digital mirror currently being tested in Neiman Marcus department stores. MemoMi allows customers to instantly change the color or the pattern of the outfit they have tried on. They can also try on additional items to complete their outfit virtually using the mirror. The mirror takes 360-degree video, allowing customers to see themselves from every angle. Customers who are shopping alone but would like a second opinion from a friend are able to share a full body still via email or social media. The mirror is controlled by the user either through gestures or through a mobile app.

Neiman Marcus employees have access to the sales associate interface which lets them send recommendations directly to customers from the mirror. Neiman Marcus is the first retailer to use this product, but MemoMi is working with other large retail brands.


Last month Nordstrom added connected mirrors to their Seattle and San Jose locations. The mirrors are located in the fitting rooms and appear to be regular mirrors. However, customers can use the bar code scanner to can the tags of the clothing they bring into the dressing room. The mirror then displays item reviews, and shows what other colors and sizes of the item are in stock. It also shows additional related product recommendations, such as complimentary accessories or shoes.

The customer can use the mirror to request the suggested items be delivered to the dressing room by an associate. The sales associates are alerted via tablets. They can respond to the customers to let them know they are on their way. This message appears right on the mirror.

Rebecca Minkoff

Rebecca Minkoff’s Magic Mirrors in her interactive store, are worth a mention. The touch screens allow customers to change their lighting settings, select different colors or sizes, and to add the items into their online shopping basket.

Final Thoughts

The digital mirrors in these stores aren’t just a cool technology add-on. They all serve a purpose or solve a retail problem. In Neiman Marcus, the sharing feature helps customers who need advice from a friend before they are comfortable making a purchase. In Nordstrom they are used as a communications tool so that sales associates don’t have to stick by the dressing room, but remain accessible to the customer. In Rebecca Minkoff, the lighting settings helps customers who need to know how the outfit will look in real life. The digital mirror in each store offers it’s own unique experience tailored to the brand.

Posted by: Admin AT 08:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Friday, 30 May 2014

Matt Schmitt
President & Founder
Reflect Systems


Today’s brands are more focused than ever on adapting to consumer lifestyles and delivering a branded experience that resonates with their audience. The importance of well-executed brand media increasingly puts all brands, including retailers, in the content game.

Reflect In-Store Digital SignageMarketing’s role in retail is shifting from advertising to brand storytelling. In the past, the driving force of many marketing strategies was to use print and broadcast to get customers out of the home and into the store. Customer segments were focused on demographics using age, gender and location. In this traditional “push” model, the idea was to reach a captive audience and deliver them a message, with the goal of influencing a transaction.

Today, marketing is about creating a brand media network that spans a variety of engagement channels. We’re not simply trying to get customers to a location. We want them to create a lasting connection with the brand and adopt it as part of their lifestyle. Moving beyond demographics, psychographics focuses on behaviors, interests and lifestyle. And rather than a push model, brands are pursuing an engagement model that creates a two-way dialogue between them and the customer.

Everywhere, All The Time

Reflect In-Store Digital Media

Brands are becoming more omni-focused, with content executed across a variety of channels, from the digital world to physical locations. The brand media should be consistent and adapted to suit the channel type.  

1. Broadcast is still a major platform for all brand media. Broadcast is still primarily about traditional television, but the landscape is shifting rapidly. YouTube is becoming a big player for brand media, with strong appeal for the brand. The ability to better target audiences and track engagement is key. And brands are able to tell more of their story with longer form content and media that moves beyond the 30-second spot. 

2. Social Media is a fast-moving target. It’s easier to think less in terms of the individual applications, and more in terms of a communications network with a shifting landscape of providers. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and others provide new ways of engagement and require new methods of branding. 

3. Mobile is increasingly becoming synonymous with online, and commerce transactions are shifting away from the desktop pc and retail website to an untethered, app-centric world. Mobile apps are about personal empowerment and enabling relevance in time and place.

4. In-Store is where all of the engagement channels can be brought together to create an impactful brand experience that can create deep engagement with the customer. The physical location presents a powerful platform for telling the brand story in a contextually relevant way.

The Art Of The Happening

Going to a physical store to shop is an event. To use an analogy, it’s like going to a movie theater instead of watching at home. Sure, there’s the instant gratification that comes from going to the location to “get it now”. But there’s more to the theater than exclusivity. The venues, at least the better ones, provide an experience. It’s an event and a happening.

Shoppers who “check in” to a physical store via social media aren’t simply looking for a coupon or offer. Often they are saying “Hey, look…I’m doing something. I’m out there in the world, taking action.” But are they being treated to a feeling of excitement by the brand experience and given reinforcement that what they’re doing is interesting? In other words, did they arrive at a location, or at an event?

The Audience As Participants

In the age of the connected customer, the audience for brand media is not passive. Because of their affinity for empowerment and communications, they are able to be active participants in the new media.

For a compelling example of brand media engagement, take a look at the recent campaign by the fast fashion retailer Uniqlo. To promote their new line of t-shirts, a multi-channel experience was created to engage the customers as brand media participants.

uniqlo store 

A purpose-built mobile app was created for the campaign. The app allows customers to create two-second video clips showing them with their new Uniqlo t-shirt and “showing off their moves”. The app is promoted in the store, with a small stage area set up with lights and a backdrop. Customers can shoot their video (either in-store or elsewhere) and can post it to social media and to a special microsite set up by the brand at The user-generated content is also showcased in the store as montages on digital signage video-walls.

In the post-advertising age, the most effective brand media content can go beyond storytelling, and into customer participation. Brands are now finding ways to move audiences to participate in the storytelling process.

The Store Is Still The Star

For most retailers, the store is the ultimate manifestation of the brand. It’s the place where customers are fully engaged with the brand. And while it’s still the moment of truth for creating transactions, it’s also the time and place for creating a deeper connection with the customer.

Many retail brands have great mobile apps, websites, YouTube channels and social media. But there is often a lack of awareness of these touchpoints. This awareness gap can be bridged by more effectively leveraging the store to tell the brand story, and to let the customer know all the ways they can engage the brand further after leaving the store.

Posted by: Admin AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Joe Holley
VP New Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates

I know most readers are concerned about what’s happening tomorrow and next month and before the end of this year, but there’s a hopeful trend in retail that will bear fruit in the years to come. Companies that began as pure-play online retailers are discovering the power of having physical stores to build their brand.

In some cases plans begin with flagship stores, but for others they signal a more deliberate move into bricks and mortar. Take Warby Parker, a trendy eyewear retailer, for example. They realized a physical presence would be integral to their growth.

The business which began online four years ago now has eight locations either completed or in the works. Their website says, “Our retail spaces combine the snappy ease of online ordering with the fun and serendipity of real-life shopping (with a photo booth or two).”

Warby Parker’s statement is acknowledgement that businesses can develop a base with online shoppers, but growth in select categories requires the kind of awareness, product credibility and experience that a physical presence can achieve. The two channels work together in that customers who make their first purchase in the store may then be comfortable making future purchases online.

What can be achieved when you build a retail presence from the ground up? You can create imaginative spaces. You can have seamless experience between channels from the start. You can create an extraordinary brand experience. You can seize new opportunities.

Unique settings

In repurposing existing spaces, Warby Parker is creating unique store environments that blend the old with the new. In April 2013, Warby Parker opened its flagship store in NYC’s SOHO district. This maiden store features high display shelves, a rolling ladder, and old brass library lamps. The cool, old library vibe is juxtaposed with the most up-to-date technology.

Multi-channel without multiple barriers

Warby Parker intertwined vintage atmosphere and new technology without being bound to a multiplicity of existing systems. The installation of Wi-Fi sensors throughout the store tracks the flow of traffic, customer browsing trends, and product preferences. The customer data collected helps improve the shopping experience both in-store and online.  POS on tablets allows sales associates to move freely about to serve customers where they are.

Built-in experience

In its first foray into bricks and mortar, four-year old online cosmetics retailer Birchbox is devoting the second floor of a new Manhattan store to building community and offering things that can’t be obtained online. They will hold classes on makeup application and skin care and offer styling services. Technology will facilitate the in-store experience. Self-service touchscreens throughout the store will enable customers to input information and pull up relevant, personal product recommendations and reviews.

Space to collaborate

Long-time e-commerce stalwart 1-800 flowers, which realizes 73 percent of its business online and on the phone is adding franchise stores in more markets so it can pursue collaborative business that isn’t easy to achieve with just  an online presence. Among other things, they found they were missing out on business opportunities like weddings and events.

These kinds of retail developments make sense for those young shoppers – the kind who would use Warby Parker’s photo booth. While Millennials are more likely than their parents or grandparents to shop online, 81 percent of their dollars are still spent in stores, according to NPD Group. They still value the experience of shopping and seek entertaining and fun venues. They will use all the channels and switch among them according to their needs and desires.

This pursuit of total retail offerings is a helpful trend.

Posted by: Admin AT 02:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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