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Solutions & Innovations (May-June 2024)

We cover the tech tools that are driving consumer understanding, engagement and conversion along the path to purchase.
6/11/2024
p2pi
p2pi

AccessiBe, a web business-solutions provider, has launched an AI-powered solution called "accessWidget" that's designed to make Shopify stores compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Surveys assert that while as many as 1-in-4 Americans lives with a disability only about 8% of e-commerce websites, meet ADA accessibility standards. accessWidget sets a customizable user interface for the customer’s profile, optimizes screen readers and keyboard navigation, and can set an adjustable look to fit specific brands. AccessiBe says it was built with input from disability communities and that installation requires no extra work, resources or expenses.

blapp
blapp

Blapp, an app that provides a way to locate and support local Black-owned businesses, was launched earlier this year. Created by New York-based comedian Jon Laster, who describes it as a “Black shopping app,” Blapp currently boasts of 60,000 diverse businesses ranging from accountants and barbershops to real estate agents and vintage stores. According to McKinsey, the collective economic power of Black people is set to reach $1.7 trillion by 2030.

brilliant
brilliant

In April, Singapore/San Francisco-based Brilliant Labs began shipping AI-enabled eyeglasses called "Frame." These $350 eyeglasses are said to enable wearers to visually analyze their surroundings, translate what is seen or heard, and intuitively search the web. Powered by Brilliant Lab's AI assistant called Noa, Frame utilizes Perplexity AI, a conversational search engine; Stable Diffusion, a text-to-image model; GPT4, OpenAI’s text-generation model; and Whisper, a speech-recognition system. Frame joins a growing list of AI-assistance devices such as Humane's AI Pin, the Rabbit r1 pocket gadget, and Ray-Ban's Meta smart glasses. 

amazon
amazon

Amazon has added Shop-the-Show technology to Amazon Live, its free ad-supported television (FAST) channel on Prime Video and Freevee. Customers can access, in real time, a carousel full of the products they’re seeing on TV by opening their Amazon phone app and typing “shop the show” into the search bar. The channel will feature content from reality TV stars such as Lala Kent (“Vanderpump Rules”) and Paige DeSorbo (“Southern Charm”) as well as brands like Tastemade and The Bump. Amazon Live is also available on desktop or mobile devices via www.amazon.com/live. In 2023, more than a billion customers in the U.S. and India watched Amazon Live streams. 

dealey
dealey

The Dealey Group, a Dallas-based brand agency and Imaginuity, an integrated marketing agency, have developed a virtual shopper named "Cindy" that shares recommendations, sales and details on upcoming events at shopping centers run by Chicago-based JLL Retail Property Management. This "virtual shopping bestie" is said to have boosted year-over-year online website sessions by 500%, new site users by 1,000% and page views by nearly 500%. Shoppers engage with “Cindy” on shopping center websites where she speaks in lifelike videos. She’s said to possess multi-ethnic characteristics designed to resonate across geographically dispersed shopping centers. The system is part of Imaginuity's Pylot platform, which aims to create “human-centered” website experiences.

perfect
perfect

In April Perfect Corp. announced that it had developed an "AI Hair Type Analysis" technology that can identify hair texture, thicknesses and curl patterns in seconds. By scanning with any camera device various sections of the hair, the tool can accurately identify nine distinct hair types ranging across 10 categories from straight to wavy to extremely “coily.” The goal is to help brands and retailers offer more precise shopping advice across multiple touchpoints, from online to in-store. 

walgreens
walgreens

DoorDash and Walgreens are collaborating to offer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) payment for deliveries from 7,800 Walgreens stores. With this arrangement DoorDash has doubled the number of stores available for its on-demand delivery services via SNAP/EBT payment. An estimated 14 million people live in food deserts, and 40 million people love in communities where more than 10% of households receive government benefits. Walgreens will offer more than 4,000 SNAP-eligible products for delivery within an hour.

carnival
carnival

Carnival Cruise Line recently announced that a "first-at-sea” technology is being made available on its "Carnival Firenze" ship: A digital kiosk, designed in collaboration with New York-based Effy Jewelry, that can put more than 100 rings at passengers’ fingertips. Once a passenger scans an image of their hand, the AR-enabled kiosk lets them try it on virtually. Depending on results of this pilot, Carnival Cruise Line is considering expanding the kiosk offering fleetwide. 

family dollar
family dollar

Family Dollar is joining the Ibotta Performance Network (IPN), a digital network that coordinates promotions across retailer platforms, large third-party-publisher sites and Ibotta’s direct-to-consumer properties. IPN will make offers available to Family Dollar shoppers through its Smart Coupons program. Family Dollar app users can clip available coupons and then either scan the app barcode or enter their phone number at the point of sale. Ibotta says IPN has anti-stacking protections; requires no coupon-processing fees; lets CPG brands pay per sale (not for clips, clicks or impressions); and can track performance in real time.

pringles
pringles

In mid-April, Kellanova's best-known salty-snack brand entered the online world of footwear shopping – yes, you read that correctly – by offering the "Pringles x Crocs Collection" via www.crocs.shoes/pringlescrocs. Three limited-edition Pringles-inspired designs as well as a new watermelon-chili-lime flavor are said to have been inspired by the partnership. The most visually striking shoe style features a "first-of-its-kind" custom holster that stores a Pringles can down by your ankles because… well, just because. 

kwikkart
kwikkart

Earlier this year Kwikkart launched a self-checkout device for private testing by the grocery delivery industry. The goal is to enable secure walk-in/walk-out shopping in any store so an estimated 1 million U.S. delivery drivers can skip the checkout process and improve efficiencies. Developed by a research consortium at UC Berkeley, once a Kwikkart device is attached to a shopping cart, drivers can then use their delivery app to connect to the attachment and scan product barcodes. The device uses a proprietary "sensor-fusion technology" (computer vision and AI) to verify items in real time. Kwikkart also comes with a new digital payments platform designed to integrate directly into retail POS systems and eliminate the credit card processing fees that stores currently incur on all delivery-driver checkouts.

reddit
reddit

Reddit has announced a public beta, Dynamic Product Ads, to enable e-commerce advertisers to promote relevant products to Redditors as they are researching, discussing and/or deciding what to buy. (The company says that in 2023, people added “reddit” to search queries more than 32 billion times.) Dynamic Product Ads are said to offer "instant campaign creation" because they can auto-populate in real-time with images, pricing and product images from an advertiser’s catalog and provide "guess-free targeting" of people based on products they’ve previously engaged with. The beta is available to all Reddit advertisers globally with English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese languages supported. 

best buy
best buy

Earlier this year Best Buy launched “Envision,” an app for Apple Vision Pro that can help shoppers plan their home's technology setup. Using A.R., shoppers can preview 3D models of how big-screen TVs, large and small appliances, fitness equipment and furniture will look “in a lifelike way” inside their homes. The app lets shoppers digitally scroll through hundreds of options with product ratings and pricing visible and purchase options accessible immediately. 

stockx
stockx

In February online marketplace StockX launched its shopping app for Apple Vision Pro. The most prominent feature is an "immersive sneaker showcase" with a "shop-the-look" feature that lets a shopper browse user-generated comments from customers around the world. Shoppers can also access interactive market data, including detailed sales information, that’s updated in real-time.

mytheresa
mytheresa

Munich, Germany-based Mytheresa, a luxury e-commerce platform, worked with visionOS developer Obsess to launch its Apple Vision Pro app in March. The app creates "an immersive digital luxury shopping experience" in virtual locales like Capri and Paris through animated hyper-realistic environments. Shoppers use the app's intuitive eye- and hand-controls to navigate through collections showcased in immersive carousels. Mytheresa says it plans to eventually introduce “curated styling sessions” with personal shoppers for its best customers.

j crew
j crew

J.Crew has launched a "J.Crew Virtual Closet" app on Apple Vision Pro. This application uses "SharePlay," a set of features that allow for shared experiences via FaceTime such as a friends-group debate about a style or a chat with staff stylists. The company says Apple’s new technology enables users to examine the texture and quality of materials at higher magnification than ever before. 

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