Taking traditional retail to a whole new level

This post is a bit different to my usual Point of Purchase observations, but this story from creative ideas blog, Springwise, really interested me and I felt it deserved a mention here.

Traditional luxury department store Fortnum and Mason have recently decided to take local produce to a whole new level by sourcing honey from beehives kept above their store.

Four bee hives have been placed high up on the roof of their building in Picadilly in order to create the unique urban honey to be sold in store. The pollen from chestnut and lime trees, as well as a wide variety of other flowering plants, is expected to make this one of a kind urban honey, which will be on sale from May 2009.

It is believed that a 227g jar of Piccadilly Honey will be priced at around £10, which for such a unique product from such a prestigious retailer is, in my opinion, great value. Adding to the unique quality of this idea, there are two webcams which offer customers the chance to see the bees up close making the honey.

I think this is a great local approach and ensures customers not only know exactly where their products are sourced, but also that they are great quality. It is also a unique tactic for such a traditional store to implement, which makes it even more appealing and interesting.

Technorati Tags: Fortnum and Mason, retail concept

The Big Brother of retail

A recent article in Wired magazine explored some of the interesting, revolutionary and some may say frightening advances which could be employed in the next generation of retail and in store technology.

One which I found particularly fascinating was the use of face-tracking technology in order to specifically tailor in store advertising messages to customers.

Although reminiscent of the gadgets in a science fiction film, or the constant surveillance of Nineteen Eighty Four, this technology is already being used in parts of France and seems as if it could be implemented on a larger scale in the near future.

The thing that makes it particularly interesting is that normally these systems rely on the co-operation of the viewer, whereas this is different as the stand is fully aware of it’s audience and can make the necessary changes.

Paolo Prandini, from Quividi the design team behind the new face-tracking technology explains how the system works:

“At the core of the system is a face-detection algorithm that can tell whether a human face is actually looking towards the camera. Once we have locked onto that face, we can extract some information and features from it, such as gender and age group”

The technology can also tell how long the customer looks at the advertisement for and their basic demographics. This makes it an ideal tool in order to target specific messages at the right audience and keep them sufficiently engaged, but does raise some issues about privacy and exploitation.

I love the idea of in store retail technology advancing at high speeds in this manner but I can’t help wonder if we’re being far too intrusive in our use of advertising? I’m sure consumers will feedback to advertisers and retailers about how they feel about this if it does start to be implemented on a wider scale.