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Tech innovation shaping retail for the better

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Continuing the theme of technology this month, there are a number of new tech innovations that continue to drive retail, retailing and retail experiences for the better. Here are some of my favourite from the past few months.

1. Princess Polly

Princess Polly, My Avatar

My avatar (well sort of except I am a different shape and different coloured hair but I didn't like that version of me)

Princess Polly has quietly launched a new ‘Try On’ feature, becoming the first Australian retailer to offer customers virtual fitting room technology. So I have given this one a go but as I wasn’t impressed by my online avatar (I was simply a much different shape than I remember myself), the avatar you will see is my version of me instead!

The feature allows shoppers to create a custom online avatar (MeModel) by entering my height, weight and bra size, and adjusting my waist and hip measurements, skin tone and hair type.

Customers can then dress their avatar in different garments from the Princess Polly range to see how they fit. The MeModels are reportedly between 92-96% accurate.

Princess Polly, My Avatar, RetailX

Since launch, customer behaviour has already started to change. Within 2 weeks revenue per visit was up 31% and customers that engage with the technology spent 3.5 times longer on the site according to the company.

Returns are the bain of online clothing retailer’s existence. This technology gives customers a more accurate picture of what they’re buying and confidence that they’re choosing the right size. Hopefully reducing returns and increasing stickiness with the retailer.

What I loved was the ability to style me. I could try styles I would never pick up in a store (mutton dressed as lamb) or try different jackets, shoes, etc with tops, pants and dresses.

It’s simple to use, seamless and fun. #winner

2. Pelton

I have been yakking on about Peloton since I saw it in New York. Utter genius and we need it here in Auckland, as our roads are simply unsafe to ride on. Perhaps go to the gym for a spin class. But why go to the gym for a ride, when you can bring the ride to you?

Peloton, is revolutionizing the fitness industry via connectivity and technology through the company’s ability to produce a gym-level workout within the comforts of one’s own home.

Effectively, the company makes stationary bikes equipped with tablets for in-home streaming of group cycling classes. Peloton is the only way to bring the motivation and power of a group fitness class into your home. The approach is engaging, seamless, cost-effective and forms a tribe of like-minded spinners who can compete or join in your ride.

Peloton has created an entirely new category of fitness, merging the best of studio fitness classes and the convenience and comfort of working out at home.

3. Lowe’s AR and VR applications

As we see here in NZ, the same DIY behaviour applies in the US. With rising home prices it encourages homeowners to engage in ongoing maintenance and repair and home renovation projects.

For those not familiar with Lowe’s they are effectively the best version of Mitre 10 Mega you can imagine but with more. Their latest innovation is incredibly impressive and has the potential to disrupt the DIY market as we know it.


Most DIYer’s get their info from Youtube, but imagine if you could walk step-by-step through a virtual reality DIY project? This allows customers to attempt full DIY projects through virtual reality. You simply put the headset on and learn step-by-step any project. This has huge potential either in consumer’s homes or in-store.


Another incredible innovation is Lowe's Vision app, a 3D tool powered by Tango. Lowe’s has been working with both AR and VR in its innovation lab and says it blends “area learning, depth sensing and motion tracking to give devices the ability to see their environment in 3D.” Simply wander your home and let the magic begin.


Finally, Lowe’s Innovation Labs are using AR to transform the in-store shopping experience. In-Store Navigation is an app that makes it more efficient and fun to find products in-store. With any Tango-enabled device, which uses computer vision to detect position in the real-world, a customer can follow turn-by-turn digital directions that appear before them to pick up every Lowe’s product they need in the most efficient route.

4. Dominoes DRU

DRU Assist is one of my favourite apps and a bit of a giveaway as to how I feed my kids on weekends! Just by talking to the chat bot I can organise dinner in a jiffy. DRU is an artificial intelligence virtual assistant. You can talk, text and interact with DRU to place an order.

By using machine learning and voice recognition DRU helps you order your favourites, last order, customisation and also receive great offers. I find he can be cheeky at times and sometimes I want him to stop blinking at me but how easy.

5. Alexa – Echo Look

I don’t care what everyone says. As a shopper, I am hanging out for Amazon to come and make a power play in this part of the world. Real retailers can stand-up or shut-up and show me what they are made of. The real reason I want Amazon here however is for Alexa, so I can ask “Alexa, does my bum looks fat in this?”

Alexa effectively is a virtual personal assistant device owned, powered and integrated into Amazon. Alexa keeps getting smarter and smarter, well beyond the original skills of controlling products throughout the home, listening to music or telling fun or important information. In May, Amazon introduced its newest Alexa-powered device, Echo Look, which includes a built-in camera to photograph, organise and get outfit recommendations. As a user, I can put my snaps into an accompanying app called Lookbook to track the outfits I’ve worn on different days. Photos and videos can be shared on social networks, which will attract Instagram power users no doubt.

Echo Look has built-in LED lighting and a depth-sensing camera, letting users blur the background to make their outfits pop, providing clean, shareable photos. Users can also get a live view.

Photographs can also be uploaded onto the new Echo Look feature, which will tell users which outfit looks best using via Style Check. Through a mix of employee and computer recommendations based on current trends and what flatters you, Amazon is judging your looks.

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