Submitted by: Liz Rogers
Mobile devices come with us wherever we go. From the palm of a user’s hand, mobile now provides solutions to marketers that once seemed out of reach. In retail especially, image recognition is one of the unique features that will reduce operational cost, reduce customer support costs, and reduce the need for human resources in many of today’s retail environments.
Imagine walking into the shoe department at a large retail store. You find a pair of shoes that you want and instead of waiting for a sales associate to come to you, you use a mobile app to scan the shoe using image recognition (IR) technology and it pulls up the current inventory of that shoe. Lets take it further – the mobile application offers geolocation and is able to pinpoint the specific shoe department that you’re located at in the country. In a matter of seconds you’ve determined if that store has the size that you’re looking for. With the assistance of image recognition the app could also recommend similar shoes to the customer that are also available in your size at that specific location. With mCommerce, you could buy the shoe and alert a clerk to bring the purchase directly to you. The customer that purchased the product did not require customer support, is satisfied, and the retailer did not incur unnecessary customer support costs.
The example I just provided is how I imagine every large retail store to interact with customers within the next 3 years. In order for retailers to compete, they are going to have to adapt to the newest model of customer service. The new customer shopping experience will extend to pre, in-store and post-product use. Tools like image recognition and geolocation allow retailers to know what customers looked at, for how long, at what location, and how often before purchasing. Mobile applications customized for retail can also gather data on post-product experience to better serve customers and reduce returns.
Here are some important concepts to take away from image recognition:
- You’re reducing labor costs. With more customers interacting in-store without the help of a physical representative you can afford to have less employees on the floor per shift. For the sales associates that remain on the floor, they are able to dedicate more time and commitment to customers that have complex questions or physical demands. Additionally, you’re making each customer experience more of a personal shopper experience without paying the additional fees that come along with it.
- You’re monetizing space that didn’t previously exist. I predict that the virtual space insights will eventually be more valuable to retailers than those gathered by people. It provides insights and analytics that can’t be gathered by sales associates, yet it will cost you less money than training staff, paying wages, scheduling and managing employees.
- You’re utilizing a platform that has various modules. With an app that has image recognition you’re getting a unique feature set that also includes geolocation, push notifications, augmented reality, mCommerce, mobile CMS, gamification, and insights and analytics. Although each module provides a great function on its own, it’s important that a mobile application has the capability to provide a bundle of features that drive sales, increase customer frequency and gain insights..
- You’re able to manage the entire lifecycle of a product. With analytics gathered through a mobile application, you’ll be able to see when and where demand for your product was at it’s highest, lowest, and if it should continue to stay on shelves in-store.
- Much of today’s data is digital. Image recognition can utilize already created digital resources to provide helpful tools for customers who are making purchasing choices, thus further amplifying the return of your digital resources.
I truly believe that image recognition is here to stay because it’s a feature that customers will find helpful in making purchases and a feature that retailers will realize increases revenues. What do you think?
Liz Rogers is a Social Media Community Manager for Parallel 6, a mobile technology and multichannel engagement company that created an easy-to-manage enterprise mobile platform called Captive Reach. Captive Reach allows companies to utilize mobile for internal and external business purposes. Pre-built modules reduce costs associated with custom development and systems integration. The platform is built with module-based components that can be leveraged for marketers in industries such as retail, healthcare, hospitality, gaming, and enterprise B2C and B2B.
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