Why retailers and consumers need Magic in their lives

When consumers are separated from their smartphones they often feel like “they’ve lost something important” or there’s a “disconnection from everything”, explains entrepreneur and Retail Magic founder, Alexandra Komissarova.

The mobile phone is essentially a part of a consumer’s body and “you can’t go anywhere without it”, she argues.

And it is for this reason Komissarova cannot understand why any retailer wouldn’t have a mobile strategy, or be looking to develop better ways to interact with consumers through their phones.

“The reason why mobile commerce is growing is because it is the internet for so many people,” she says.

“Retailers without a mobile strategy are missing out. Just walk down the street to see how important mobile phones are to people: they’re being used all the time. If retailers don’t have a mobile strategy they can’t exploit people’s use of social media or impress them with a fancy app.”

Komissarova says Magic is a mobile retail solution that helps retailers better interact with their shoppers, while also organically fitting into the way consumers now live their lives.

The tool combines with RFID sensors and iBeacons, and then exchanges product information direct from clothes rail to app via ultrasound.

Shoppers opting in to use the Magic app, or a retailer-branded app with the same embedded functionality, will be able to see items they have taken off the shelf in-store the next time they open the app.

Benefiting consumers and retailers alike

Komissarova says the consumer benefits are clear because, although a customer opt-in is required, the technology works automatically. It functions behind the scenes and means they do not need to take out their phone to scan products; they can just shop how they want to shop.

“Magic had to automatically connect with the phone and automatically detect when something has been picked up,” she notes.

“I always thought the in-store mobile barcode scanner was silly because you need the phone, the garment and you need to hold the tag to take a picture of it. How many hands do these companies think we have?”

For retailers, there are potentially multiple benefits. “When a customer walks through a retailer’s door, what do they know about them? Nothing.

“They don’t know what they are looking for, they don’t know how much they might have to spend. They can’t tailor their service to them because they don’t know them.”

She adds: “If retailers have Magic, as soon as a customer picks something up it’s just like online. If it’s a navy top – they know they are interested in tops, they know the sort of price bracket – it’s bringing that online analytics ability in store.”

Other clear opportunities the solution provides retailers are related to modern consumer behaviour, especially shoppers’ propensity to talk about their shopping experiences on social media.

“If someone walks into a shop, and they buy something they like and want to share it with someone that’s a real opportunity for retailers to get some free advertising. Connecting Magic to social media is very powerful – it’s so short-sighted of companies to not develop mobile strategies with this type of interaction in mind.”

Retail Magic also gives retailers a “second chance” to convert a sale, as well as opportunities to send customers personalised offers based on what they looked at in store, and to let them know they are thinking of them with relevant messaging.

“In a store, retailers can also use staff more effectively if they monitor shopper preferences and know that a person in the store is looking for blue jackets, for example – it’s hugely powerful sending an assistant over with knowledge about that customer.”

The technology, which is set to be implemented in Cambridge-based luxury fashion shop Guilio over the coming months and has played a part in Farfetch’s store of the future, fits neatly with the Internet of Things (IoT) movement starting to impact the retail industry.

The smart home revolution that is already well under way, illustrated by apps connected to utilities, smart lighting and white goods that advise when consumer supplies might be low, is moving into the business world. Retail Magic can be part of this era.

“Magic is the embodiment of what IoT is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be quick, simple, automatic, and it shouldn’t add tasks for people in order for them to get benefit from it,” explains Komissarova.

“Consumers come into a store, they pick something up and it records that action – there’s no getting a phone out to scan, take a picture or whatever. Consumers just do their normal everyday thing, and they receive the additional benefit.”

Technology should never get in the way – it should help people in what they are trying to do and it certainly should not get in the way of the shopping, she adds.