At the National Retail Federation’s Big Show this week in New York, many retailers are showcasing their new developments in shopping with technology in an attempt to target customers who spend a majority of their time on their smartphone. As Washington Post reporter Sarah Halzack states, on-demand delivery and transportation apps (such as Uber, for example) have conditioned consumers to want faster, more convenient service and access to products. Consumers also want personalized, one of a kind service.
Wander the long aisles of booths at the expo, and you’ll also see plenty of attempts to improve the online shopping experience. Outdoor apparel seller North Face is turning to software that’s designed to mimic online the experience of having a real-life personal shopper. Customers can answer a series of questions in a conversational way, such as mentioning that they’re “looking for something that will be good to wear in Jackson Hole in February.” Technology that relies on IBM Watson will help figure out what item that shopper should buy. Watson’s natural-language processing ability will process the shopper’s request, and the system will analyze the likely precipitation, wind and temperature conditions in that location, among other things, to hopefully recommend the right jacket.