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Coming soon to a store near you…

Future-gazing is always fun. There was plenty of future to see at the Retail Business Technology Expo at London’s Olympia on 10-11 March 2015. Here’s a random edit of three e-/retail innovations that caught my eye.

Findbox GmbH – dont search, find smart!
Need a replacement light bulb, printer cartridge or particular type of screw for a DIY project?   Findbox offers a solution, enabling customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. It’s so delightfully simple, it’s a wonder that nobody thought of it before.

The customer scans the bar-code of their old light bulb, printer cartridge etc. into a wall-mounted scanner/screen combo. Manual searches are also possible. The screen shows information about the product range (e.g. wattage, lighting effect, bulb shape) as well as price and special offers for the customer to make their choice. The hook on the display then flashes, enabling the customer to locate their item easily.

Findbox GmbH are a two-year-old start-up, based in the southwest of Germany near Freiburg. They’re already supplying to a number of electrical and DIY chains in Germany and France, and are in talks with British retailers, too.


Spire Payment enables contactless charity donations
Technology shows often suffer from too much ‘technology in the raw’. What does that mean? Well, technology for technology’s sake. Technology in need of a customer proposition — sometimes any kind of proposition. Top marks, then, to point-of-sale solutions provider, Spire Payments.

Spire pulled together a win-win-win proposition for the charity Comic Relief, the card acquirer and the consumer, which also taps into the Zeitgeist. It was a life-sized cut-out of Dawn French with a card payment terminal in her hand. The terminal was switched to contactless-only mode, and pre-programmed to £1.

The cut-outs of well-known comedians appeared in around ten shopping centres nationwide in the run-up to Rose Nose Day in the UK. People could pose for a selfie with the cut-out and donate £1 to Comic Relief, using a contactless payment card or the Barclays Pingit app.

The project was pulled together in record-quick time, involving coordination between Spire, who provided their own-brand payment terminal, the card acquirer, Comic Relief and the designer of the cut-outs. Other charities are interested.

“I bet your phone’s ringing red hot now,” I said to the Spire representative.

“Yes, it is!” she confirmed.


Queue-it manages customer expectations at peak times
Standing in line to check out is usually associated with the in-store shopping experience. It often leads to customer disgruntlement and lost sales. Queuing also occurs online. This includes during peak periods, such as Black Friday sales, and on ticketing websites when concert tickets are released.

Queue-it offers an online queuing system. It tells customers the wait time and their position in the queue. The system can send customers messages in a pop-up window while they wait, or offer to e-mail them back to complete their purchase.