The Valley Group

Technology in retail

May 18, 2023

Great tech has the ability to inspire shoppers, deliver immersive in-store experiences whilst alleviating some of the pain points to create a memorable, shareable experience. Every time we go shopping, we seem to see a new piece of tech introduced into stores by retailers to aid shopper convenience and enhance the in-store shopping experience. Tech which can deliver on both of these promises is valuable to the retailer and the customer, however nothing drives frustration more than a blank screen. As brands and retailers battle to maximise their return on investment throughout stores, we take a look from a shopper point of view at which innovations enhance the shopper journey and which are not worth the floorspace they are sitting on.

Photo credit: Dr Retail



Located at the back of the store, Bershka’s Self-Checkout pods are designed to aid convenience by cutting queuing times for customers- combining the ease of shopping online with the convenience of in-store. The pods use RFID technology to recognise items placed into the basket area, so no need for scanning multiple barcodes. The touch screen guides customers through the purchase journey, with a tag remover and card scanner making the process simple and easy. The area is identified by a large display screen, great communication which we also saw at Stradivarius who are using QR codes as part of their online order collection process.

Our view?

Quick, easy to use and removes the ‘shall I bother’ question from a shopper’s mind. Providing the tech is maintained, an absolute hit in our eyes.

Photo credit: Dr Retail

Selfie Mirror


A simple mechanic, look in the mirror, use the screen prompts to take a photo, add a filter and print. Now you have your very own photo of your face covered in Footlocker branding. Excited? The idea behind this ‘bridge between physical and digital worlds’ is to not only provide the shopper with a memory from their visit, but to provide the retailer with valuable data which can be used to refine customer experiences and drive sales, whilst promoting the opportunity for customers to share experiences across channels.

Our view?

In practise messaging is weak, given that text is displayed on a mirrored surface you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a regular mirror and just walk straight past. Just another ‘Gen-Z’ fad? Probably.

Photo credit: Dr Retail

Virtual try on


Positioned front of store with a prominent call to action, MAC’s virtual try on assistant offers the ability to instantly try over 800 shades of eye and lip colour, without the mess. The display holds 2 touchscreens with product available on the display for instant purchase, although rather confusingly the screen content guides you through a skin care finder- not useful when trying to find a new shade of lipstick. Instead, a crudely attached QR code sticker directs shoppers to the MAC website where shoppers can try on various make up shades using filters.

Our view?

Harnessing the power of physical experience with a shopper is essential to give reasons to go shopping. Poorly replicating an online experience in store gives no additional benefits. With the virtual try on service designed ‘to replicate the experience of sitting at a store counter’….when in store we’d rather sit at a store counter.

Photo credit: Dr Retail

Super Powered Personalisation Station


The Lush in-store shopping experience is legendary. Renowned for its exceptional customer service, creative product displays and live product demonstrations, the brand has award winning stores around the world and knows how to deliver shopper satisfaction.

Despite this, here is an example of a brand who appear to be struggling to use tech as an in-store shopping enhancement. Their Super Powered Personalisation Stations are intended to allow shoppers the chance to personalise body lotions and shower gels free of charge with names, birthday greetings and messages via a touch screen. Unfortunately, we are yet to see how the functionality operates in store as we haven’t seen any working!

Our view?

Investing in a reliable service agency to manage in-store screens is worth its weight in bath bombs.

Photo credit: Dr Retail

Phone charging station

Pull and Bear

Pull and Bear’s pin code protected lockers allow customers the ability to securely charge their phone while they shop. In a similar way to Apple’s remote charge in-store facility, this is a great footfall driver as well as keeping customers in store for longer, encouraging browsing time knowing that their device is safe.

Our view?

Given our own daily battery life challenges, this is a great mechanic for shoppers who may be in retail for a day without access to power. It reflects an understanding of shopper needs, striving to deliver shopper satisfaction throughout the in-store experience and a reason for repeat visit.

Photo credit: Dr Retail

Beauty Changing Room


Nestled between Kylie skin and cosmetic ranges in the heart of the beauty department is the Flannels Beauty Changing Room. From the outside this striking corrugated clad booth has a simple Occupied light above a heavy velvet curtain which leads way to a space where shoppers can test make up and skin care from across a range of brands in privacy. The idea that shoppers can take time to trial products without observation of other customers or staff helps ease the often intimidating environment of the beauty floor. The booth also features a selfie mirror (we’ve seen this somewhere before) which takes a photo giving shoppers the option to collect a digital version to share on social or a printed version, with added FLANNELS branding, to take home.

Our view?

Allowing shoppers to feel relaxed in a retail environment increases dwell time in-store, and allows the customer chance to explore products and new brands in a way that can’t be replicated online. The idea of a multi branded exploration zone is key to gain greater affinity within the customers lifestyle showing a consideration and understanding of their needs in a way that’s far deeper than a selfie.

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