Is there any innovation happening in retail today?

Summary of my presentation at the #TNWConference 2018

Almost two weeks ago I was invited to run a session at the TNW Conference — a digital conference professing to bring together the best and the brightest, hosted in Amsterdam and attended by everyone who is doing or is interested in anything digital. As a second time visitor, first-time speaker, the experience was totally different. The conference offers great networking opportunities with a lot of interesting people; I even tried to make some new friends (spoiler alert: the friendship thing didn’t go that well).

Talking about ‘The future of retail. Trends and tools’ in front of retail experts, was for sure an exciting moment. After the first round of short introductions the session turned into an interactive game, with me analyzing a bit more about retail trends, its newest technologies and tools and a lot of interesting points from the audience, making our session playful and enjoyable.

Introducing the Gartner hype cycle of technologies around retail, was the first step in explaining the immediate need of bringing technology into the retail world.

Anyway, consumers are already Omni. According to IDC Future Scape Worldwide Retail and DHL Trend Research: Omni-channel Logistics, Omnichannel customers have both 30% more lifetime value and spend 15%-30% more than traditional shoppers. Who doesn’t want more revenue and loyal customer? Apparently, Omni is the new black!

The more value you want your business to have the more experience you should offer to consumers. Consumers are in need for a seamless digital/in-store experience and at the same time a real time, one to one, interaction.

The secret for a successful retailer is to always keep their business ‘young’ and as we say in SafeSize to follow the Benjamin Button approach. Technology is here to teach retailers how to ‘age in reverse’. The more you adapt to the new technologies and tools, the better perceived you are by consumers and your customers. Businesses have to build, measure, learn to adapt to the new and steer clear of fear. Innovation is the ultimate key to success.

But, is there any innovation happening in retail today?

With this question we started the second part of the presentation where we analyzed some best practices. And of course the answer is yes!

One example in the Omni part is Toyota’s E- pallet, a self-driving modular store on wheels. Sure, it looks weird, but also cool at the same time, right? E-Palettes are “fully-automated, next-generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service business.” In other words, self-driving boxes roaming through cities, delivering people, packages, and pizza. Some of the partners, that have already launched e-Palette include Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber. This progressive vehicle includes an open control interface, modular enough for purpose-built interiors that suit different individual and business needs.

Photo: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

In time, e-Palette Alliance partners will be able to manage the full range of Toyota’s Mobility Services Platform (MSPF) services or integrate it into their own technology development programs. Toyota intends to conduct workability testing of the e-Palette concept in various global regions in the early 2020s.

Photo: ChatwithMaia

Shoes, shoes, shoes… Who doesn’t love buying shoes? Maia, the first chatbot created for shoe recommendation is the most advanced option available (until today) around conversational commerce in the omnichannel retail. The only thing that the consumer has to do, is respond to few quick questions and hers/his foot profile is ready, with the recommendation of the running shoe that can provide the best support for each specific user. Try it out here: ChatwithMaia


From the experience perspective, liateR (Retail Reversed) offers consumers the fitting room of the future. A virtual fitting room for physical stores and DOOH locations. More than 350.000 users have already interacted with liateR in 13 countries and 2 continents. Retailers have observed a +31% increase in their store traffic, +25x more connections with their online presence (from consumers while still inside the store) and +5x more visual attraction.

ModiFace is a set of tools that help the consumer perform beauty try-on simulations. A live cosmetics app based on state-of-the-art augmented reality technology allowing anything from lipstick to eyelashes and facial cosmetics, even hairstyles. On March the 16th 2018 L’Oreal announced that it has acquired Modiface. Modiface had already worked with L’Oreal multiple times in the past, including the launch of its Style My Hair mobile app, which lets users try on different hairstyles. For that app, Modiface manually annotated 22,000 facial images to create the experience.

Photo: Sephora

With the help of Amazon, The Mars Agency chose to partner with Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit because of its reputation for providing personalized, detailed information to help customers choose the perfect wine for their meal or occasion. With this idea in mind, Bottle Genius was born, a data-based tool, that works as a voice-powered retail shopping assistant. This shopping assistant develops dialog and interactions that are rooted in behavioral consumer research, and that improve over time using AI and machine learning.

I couldn’t finish this retail innovation and technology post without mentioning SafeSize. SafeSize is the global leader in shoe recommendation and fitting advice. The solution that SafeSize offers has already been installed in more than 1.000 physical stores worldwide and with more than 14.000.000 consumers scanned. On average retailers have their conversation rate increased by 62%, the average selling price increased by 37% and -27% less on product returns. The main pillars of the solution are the 3D scanning (both in-store and online), the 3D shoe scanning (already created the biggest global shoe database) and the insole analysis. The outcome is the recommendation of the perfect fit.

Photo: SafeSize

In conclusion, retailers should feel empowered to bring more innovation to their workplace. Omni, Experience, Data are the main pillars for all the winners of the future. If you are a retailer and don’t think having these 3 main ideas in mind think again!

Want to see more retail innovation stories? Check my entire #TNW presentation here:

Once more, #TNW team, thank you for having me! #untilnextyear


Building viable companies (offline and online) using cool tech for the last 21 years.