PSFK is the go-to resource for retail tech and their team of experts have just produced the latest edition of their excellent “The Future of Retail” report.
In good freemium fashion, there’s a free 60 page summary report (embedded) and a 110 page paid for full report available for $150, covering three big trends and 10 sub-trends in detail.

For a full briefing of the cutting edge in retail tech – social, local and mobile – the PSFK report is invaluable. A speed summary doesn’t do it justice, but for the time-pressed, here’s the two-minute speed summary of the expert view on the future of retail (with highlights on social technology).

META TREND 1: Online Expectations, Offline Experience (online technology enhancing the offline store experience)

  • 1. Digitally empowered staff (Home Depot store associates share expertise through social media, Apple store staff use app to reply to in-store customers in real-time, Burberry stores use mobile apps to check inventory, Nordstrom staff use iPod touches as roving check-outs from the sales floor, BMW use iPads to complete car-lease paperwork in-car after test-drive)
  • 2. In-stories (enriching the in-store experience with technology) (Macy’s uses QR codes in-store that trigger short videos on mobile handsets – ¬†interviews with fashion creators and celebrities, product background and advice, Home Depot uses QR codes to give customers access to reviews and how-to guides, L.L. Bean uses RFID to play promotional videos on in-store screens when a product is picked up, SK Telecom stores use NFC to allow customers to browse in-store and buy online with 10-40% savings)
  • 3. Scanned Shoppers (Kraft kiosks, vending machines and digital billboards use scanning technology and facial recognition to make personalised purchase/recipe suggestions based on facial/body features, demographics and purchase history, Fashion malls offer full body scanning service for perfect measurements, and virtual personal stylists offer purchase advice that can be shared on social networks)
  • 4. Gesture-based browsing (Shoe retailer Repetto offers interactive window shopping experience with gestures that allow passers-by to browse products in digitally-dressed windows, Nordstrom uses MS Kinect to allow window-shoppers to virtually graffiti shop windows, KinectShop turns gaming consoles into virtual fitting rooms)

META-TREND 2: Shopper Know-How (digital tools – social, local and mobile – improve the shopping experience)

  • 5. On my block deals (Groupon/LivingSocial mobile apps that map live local and group-buy deals, Wholefoods supermarket app provides deals based on aisle location of customers, augmented reality apps layers discounts and deals over mobile cam view
  • 6. Social currency – Palms hotel Klout Klub rewards customers based on their social influence Klout score, Audi offers exclusive content, downloads and offers based on Klout score, Amex integrates loyalty rewards program into Facebook so members share rewards, Pay with a Tweet allows people to pay for digital goods with social media shares, InMarkit app identifies online brand advocacy and offers brand advocates personalised realtime offers and rewards, Cheeky Beach beachwear uses Gloople platform to reward shares and recommendations with offers and discounts
  • 7. What’s in-store? Milo app connects shoppers to nearby products, Aisle411 app locates items in-store, Retailignece app syncs inventory with mobile search, iPad apps used to checkout purchases and update inventory, connected in-store freezers provide realtime product availability, app crowdsources a real-time map of where to buy good wine

META-TREND 3: Refined Retail Cartography (digitally-enhanced store-layouts to improve the shopper experience)

  • 8. Fitting room redress (TopMan fitting rooms for guys with personal shopping service and Xbox gaming area, RFID tags play garment appropriate music in fitting rooms, ‘pop-up’ fitting room pods (Bloomingdales, Old Navy) – with hotline phone to fitting staff that can positioned close to hot merchandise for convenient tryouts
  • 9. Store within a store (re-zoning stores based on demographics, brands and categories, enhancing stores with added services (clinics in pharmacies)
  • 10. Instant try it on (TopShop virtual fitting room uses Kinect to map in-store garments onto customers in digital mirrors, Shiseido digital mirrors allow customers to virtually sample makeup, InStyle fashion magazine app lets women tryout different hairstyles, Inamo restaurant London projects virtual interactive tablecloths onto tables that allow customers to order, digital mirrors allow virtual tryouts and provide style recommendations)