The Art and Science of Retail
Deborah Patton - The Art and Science of Retail - The Robin Report

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If you were to distill what consumers want from any retail transaction down to two factors, it would be convenience and experience. And these two factors may even outweigh value and price if you deliver a meaningful experience that is imaginative, innovative and convenient. What is the glue that holds both together? Forward-thinking, cutting-edge tech solutions.

So, here\’s a dreamworld scenario: You are in the unique position to blend your personal passion for art and creativity into a holistic program to enhance the retail experience through leading-edge technology. That would be the integration of Art + Science, and that is exactly what the Intel team is working on.

World-Building Dreamers

Stacey Schulman is a connector who creates communities, virtual and physical, as Chief Innovation Officer, IOTG/Retail, Hospitality, Banking and Education for Intel. She says, \”I think that retailers need to understand the art world better and they need to understand artforms that are way more emotive than what they use today. A marketing piece isn\’t artwork that is emotive. As retailers are starting to look at how they integrate themselves into a community, in my opinion, a great way is to connect with local artists. I think the local artist knows the community better than anyone; they understand the vibe of a community and what people are worried about, and they reflect that in their artwork.\” In January 2020, as curator, she and the Intel team connected NRF attendees with a range of creative and clever visionaries who can teach seasoned retailers a trick or two. All it requires is thinking differently and thinking like your customers.

We introduce you to a few of the experiential innovators partnering with Intel to reshape retail.

  • Trav Baird is a street-artist from Visalia, California and an active member of the public works artist collective. Beyond the Streets. LA graffiti culture shaped his artistic aesthetic and his commissioned work all over the world documents the evolution from the physical world into digital. He says, \”I want my work to live in the public space, be free and create curiosity within the viewer.\” He started painting vintage signs from retail stores as both a love letter and a caution to the retail world. He was discouraged by how closures of local retail stores affect the health and life of a community. Trav created an original, nostalgic, site-specific mural for Intel at NRF that combines nostalgic neighborhood shop imagery with high-tech, high-touch LED-based neon lighting, touch sensors and microtransaction inputs to trigger lighting and sound within the mural. The result? People explore and are engaged with art in a meaningful, tactile retail experience.
  • Burning Man meets retail at the Intel© Experience Incubation Hub in Area 15, an experiential mixed-use shopping space in Las Vegas opening in Spring 2020. The Hub is a collective of creatives and technologists to test new design concepts and leading-edge tech. On display at NRF, Symmetry Labs, powered by Intel solutions, creates interactive experiences using custom-built LED hardware, controlled by LED-mapping software. In addition to their motion sensored Sugar Cubes, the 2017 Burning Man performance piece will come to Area 15 as the main attraction. The dreamy Tree of Ténéré is an interactive art installation inviting consumers to share the color and configuration of the leaves of light in a piece of performance art. The 40-foot tall tree is illuminated by over 175,000 LEDs interacting with the rhythms of participants and provides shade and high-tech beauty for Instagrammable moments. As Stacey explains, \”I think the art world and technology have to come together at some point. You\’ve got tech doing these really great things, very creative. And you\’ve got artists doing these beautiful creative things. But we rarely think of putting them together. The collaboration, especially when they are interactive, gives us beautiful, fun, interesting things to use.\”

[callout]The human element is still what connects us and provides context and relevance to our interactions and experiences fueled by the ancient powers of imagination, creativity, innovation and dreaming big. The synergistic tech solutions are what can provide sustainable meaningful data, thereby making a mundane transaction into a personalized contract.[/callout]

  • Papinee revitalizes the oldest, most powerful tradition that viscerally connects people: imagination and storytelling. This multi-sensory educational and entertainment family-centric retailer of toys, books and imagination and Intel are exploring ways to bring the immersive storytelling experience to life at retail. Stacey explains, \”Following the Tom\’s Shoes model, when you buy one of their products they underwrite storytellers in refugee camps for children.\” Their mission is to educate, inspire and empower children who will become tomorrow\’s leaders with purposeful global values. Right on point to resonate with consumers who want to be treated as people, not data.
  • LumoPlay is a playful AR technology that delivers interactive, touch and motion-activated visual experiences on screens in any location. It\’s an interactive world-building activity that is educational as well as entertaining. More than a game, the system\’s printing function tracks customer behavior right through to the point of purchase. Art + Science: customers are entertained while retailers gather valuable metrics.

In the convenience realm, Intel gathered some thought-provoking startup entrepreneurs who have some bright ideas to make life…well, more convenient, frictionless and stress-free, as well as sustainable. Here are just a few:

  • Swyft Open Delivery API is an open-source system designed so retailers can offer easy-to-use, free, and secure shipping pick-up lockers as a service for their customers. Currently in 7-11 stores, this is high tech for parcel pick-ups.
  • Variant is a custom 3D knitting, zero-inventory company. Supporting transparent, sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and cradle-to-grave accountability, it promotes recycled materials and offers an on-demand model that removes costly barriers to entry, encourages designer creativity and empowers retailers by allowing them to co-create small-batch exclusives. As Stacey says, \”Apparel is the second-largest polluter, filling landfills and the single biggest polluter for microplastics in the ocean. Apparel is 100 percent recyclable, and yet only 15 percent of it is recycled.\”
  • Crown Digital: The Seamless Cup connects robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics to fuel coffee-lovers. Ella, Crown Digital\’s Robotic Coffee Barista incorporates Intel engineered AI and serves 2000 cups of coffee a day (200 an hour), so you can order your preferred coffee hit from your desk and t\’s ready when you get to the machine. It\’s the ultimate optimistic robotic promise: to free you up from tedious tasks.

So Many Choices, so Little Time

The retail-tech world is becoming a paradox of choice for which systems, solutions and tech breakthroughs to invest in. It is clear that the future of retail will be a seamless, integrated system of tech-enabled convenience and experience. The human element is still what connects us and provides context and relevance to our interactions and experiences fueled by the ancient powers of imagination, creativity, innovation and dreaming big. The synergistic tech solutions are what can provide sustainable meaningful data, thereby personalizing it and making a mundane transaction into a personalized contract. It is impossible to envision one without the other as we lurch into the future in a digital economy. Intel, among other visionary enterprises, is curating the retail-tech field of nearly infinite possibilities with innovations to solve our problems in the here and now for the next generations to come. There is little to long for when art and science work together to produce magic moments, which can be repeated with personalized products and services, thanks to the tech geniuses who match imagination with frontier technologies to serve people.

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