Smart mannequins and AR make-overs: Inside the in-store retail experience of the future

Millennials are demanding an experiential, personal shopping experience, according to Accenture’s retail chapter, which imagined what a bricks and mortar store of the future may look like at the Millennial 20/20 summit this week (13-14 April).

The Drum caught up with Jill Standish, the new global head of retail at Accenture, who explained the installation was designed to bring new innovations in the shopping experience to life through all five senses.

“The future of retail is getting very personalised and it’s getting very experiential - stores and online are trying to come together,” she said. “Millennials especially want to be treated very individually. They want to be inspired but they also have morals and want to be treated with respect.”

The World of Me By Accenture featured a mannequin that could connect automatically to consumers’ smartphones, allowing them to see in detail what it was wearing and purchase the garments displayed automatically.

Other contraptions on display included an augmented reality make-over screen, where users could virtually experiment with different cosmetic looks, and an a digital, Tinder-style craft beer food pairing system.

The future of data collection was also showcased in partnership with Hoxton Analytics. Instead of using facial recognition to identify shoppers’ genders – something Accenture says millennials view as an intrusion of privacy – the technology recognises the size and shoe style of customers’ feet to determine whether more men or women are entering a store.

Standish explained: “I think the best retailers are going to start experimenting in stores – you’re going to see pop-up shops and shops within shops - because a store is where the experience is going to happen.

“What Accenture is doing to help today’s retailer get to this new level of experimentation and innovation is really making it easy with things like cloud and new platforms. Those things are hidden behind the scenes and can allow rapid experimentation.”