What do bots mean for the future of retail?

concept store

Although it’s becoming more and more of a regular occurrence to see technology fuse itself with the traditional brick and mortar store, it takes an innovative concept store balance of both to get it right.

Denver based Spruce is a men’s style consultancy, barber and clothier. They are also one of the few retailers integrating technology so effectively that they are now looking to make it available to other businesses.


concept store

Image credit: Spruce


The shop run by a bot

One of the primary ways they’re joining tech with physical store space is with their Spruce Bot. Built with the intention to help with the running of the store, rather than with the selling, the bot is an important part of their all-connected space. It follows up with a customer after their visit for feedback, helps staff build a rapport by bringing up the name and conversational details of a client before they enter and keeps all of that information about those customers on dedicated profiles.

And, instead of having to download an app to interact, texts and Facebook messages are the communication platforms of choice. With these, Spruce can verify the authenticity of their customers, and the bot can locate and store customer preferences.

The bot is not the only thing Spruce have going for them though. In fact, it’s just one of the many important elements that, when combined, offer an engaging retail space. They have their digital menu board for example, that outlines not only the services they provide, but the price, duration and how long you can expect to wait to be seen in real time.
concept store

A true connected store

They also have their connected shoe display, that shows the store’s live inventory and gives customers the option to alert staff with the style, colour and size of a pair they want to try on when they’re ready. In terms of customer interest and retention, Spruce have installed a ‘turn-away button’, that staff push when turning a client away so they can see when exactly the store is understaffed.

And who says these innovations have to stay within the store’s walls? With pedestrian trip lines, Spruce can identify how busy the street outside is after closing and adjust their signage accordingly. Signage that, because it’s connected to the Internet, turns a bright neon at certain times throughout the day.
concept store

Shared technology

With plans to split the store in two, to help focus on both the retail services they offer and licensing the tech to others, there’s a strong feeling that Spruce’s momentum has only just started. But what points can we take away when it comes to the future of retail?

First and foremost, everything’s connected. Be it the bot or the signage, Spruce is utilising the Internet of Things in a traditional brick and mortar environment to create a seamless shopping experience. Second, having that digital interaction with a customer without them having to download an app opens something totally effort free for the customer. And third, they’re sharing. Not only is their blog incredibly in-depth in its parting of connected retail knowledge, but they’ve had so much interest in their bot, they’re now working towards making the technology available to others.

Visit some of the stores that are making shopping a better experience on a London retail safari or New York retail trend tour.