Let’s face it: who enjoys shopping in brick and mortar stores today? From a millennial’s perspective, there are very few occasions left where I would shop in a physical store. Maybe on a Saturday afternoon if I’m trying to kill time I’ll pop into a store or two, but if I’m actually on a mission to buy something, it is almost entirely online. Heck, I even have resorted to buying my groceries online! While some people may attribute this to laziness, this movement to online retailing is infiltrating many younger generations as consumers beg for the convenience and customization that have become table stakes in our new on-demand world.
Digital disruption in retail
According to a 2015 survey by Russel Reynolds Associates of executives, retail is the fourth likeliest industry to be moderately or massively disrupted in the next 12 months.[i]
Retail continues to be disrupted in many ways. In the simplest form, there is the disruption of traditional brick and mortar retail by e-commerce, and the proliferation of mobile devices and applications for shopping on-the-go. In fact, by the end of this year, it is predicted that 25% of all retail e-commerce sales will transact via mobile devices.[ii] Even for those consumers who do chose to shop brick and mortar, technology is still there; stores have started using location-based technologies to “provide more personalized, real-time messages, offers and promotions.”[iii]
Further along the spectrum of digital transformation within the industry you will find innovations such as “fit technology,” which leverages technology to help consumers find better-fitting clothing. The technology being implemented varies considerably, ranging from companies like Rent The Runway using community-sourced photos and reviews that include information about the user’s size and body type, to companies such as Acustom Apparel that uses 3D body scanners.[iv]
Needless to say, this only scratches the surface of digital innovations hitting the retail industry by storm.
Not only are technology advancements creating many opportunities for existing retailers, but they are also creating space for new retailers to emerge. One such retailer that is capitalizing on one such new technology is TheTake.
Founded in 2013, TheTake allows consumers can “buy almost anything they’ve seen on screen in a feature film, or film trailer.”[v] The website is set up to look like a Pinterest board where shoppers can browse products that were worn, or even find vacation locations where these shows and movie were filmed. Users can filter based on the movie or show and fashion category, and are ultimately directed to the retailer’s website to complete the purchase. Currently the tracking and coding of the featured items is a mix of manual work, audio recognition, and computer vision technology.[vi] As of their launch in 2014, TheTake had approximately 100 movies in its catalog, but has actively been working on expanding this.
Now, you’ll pay the price for keeping up with the Kardashians’ fashion choices – the sunglasses that Kris Jenner was caught wearing in season 11 will cost you $1,082 to own. Thankfully, TheTake also offers suggested, similar products across different price points.[vii]
What’s up next?
As TheTake invests the time and money in building out their tagged movie database, the company becomes a ripe acquisition target for many major retailers – the Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdales, and Saks’ of the world – to enhance their in-store and online shopping experiences. If not through acquisition, how long will it be before these established retailers catch on and start offering their own “Shazam-like” technology?[viii]
The other application I see for this visual recognition technology is for everyday fashion spotting. As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, I frequently see people out in public whose outfits I admire, but don’t have the courage to ask them where they bought it. In a not so distant future, I hope to stealthily snap a picture of this stranger, upload it to TheTake v2.0, and within a few clicks be shopping that stranger’s outfit for myself.
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[i] Harvard Business Review, “The Industries That Are Being Disrupted the Most by Digital,” https://hbr.org/2016/03/the-industries-that-are-being-disrupted-the-most-by-digital, accessed November 2016.
[ii] CIO, “5 cutting-edge retail technology trends,” http://www.cio.com/article/2989716/retail/5-cutting-edge-retail-technology-trends.html, accessed November 2016.
[iv] Fashionista, “8 Tech Startups Tackling Clothing Fit,” http://fashionista.com/2014/07/8-tech-startups-tackling-clothing-fit, accessed November 2016.
[v] TechCrunch, “TheTake Just Raised $2M So You Can Buy That Thing You Saw In That Movie,” https://techcrunch.com/2014/09/08/thetake-just-raised-2m-so-you-can-buy-that-thing-you-saw-in-that-movie/, accessed November 2016.
[vii] Wired, “This App Identifies the Movie You’re Watching and Lets You Buy What You See,” https://www.wired.com/2014/12/thetake-app-mobile-shopping/, accessed November 2016.