Aldo steps up its tech experience

A heavily connected location in New York signals the kinds of experiences that will soon be available across its retail network.
Kinetic Cafe-Kinetic Cafe Launches KINETIC COMMERCE

Working with the retail innovation lab at Toronto-based design and tech firm Kinetic Cafe, retailer Aldo has launched the Kinetic Commerce platform at a flagship location in New York’s Westfield World Trade Center shopping centre.

Through an app on their own personal mobile devices, or through in-store iPads and “Endless Shelf” virtual screens, shoppers have the ability to scan products to check in-store product availability, search stock based on a range of criteria, find similar objects, view lifestyle content featuring products they are currently looking at inside the store or flag a sales associate to request a try-on. The experience also syncs online shopping carts and wish lists with the app as way to blend the online and physical shopping experiences.

Aldo has been working with Kinetic Cafe for the last two years on consumer research and insight into customer needs to develop the platform.

Grégoire Baret, senior director of omnichannel experience at Aldo, says research revealed 16 consumer pain points related to things such as speed, product discovery and connection between different shopping platforms that the new experience store experience will address.

“We want to transform what the retail locations stand for,” Baret says. “It’s not just about selling products. It’s about giving the kinds of services and experiences that better support the consumer connection with the brand. Retail is not just one specific location, it’s one experience where every location and touch point has its own part to play.”

Over the past year, Aldo has been piloting different connected elements in various combinations within 25 stores across North America, which have all come together in the New York location.

Baret says the plan is to roll out the features, in one form or another, to 40 stores in the coming days and 100 by the end of the year, focusing on major urban centres in Canada and the U.S. The company is also rolling out and testing a mobile point-of-sale system in select locations.

“It’s not about the physical store itself, it’s about the full end-to-end consumer path and finding ways to offer continuity and unity from one touchpoint to another,” Baret says. “We know our consumers are doing some research online before coming into the store and we don’t want them to have to restart that whole process when they come into the store because it’s a breaking point in the shopping path. Our consumers know what they want and the occasion they are shopping for, so it’s also streamlining their discovery approach to get them to the end point sooner.”

Aside from streamlining the path-to-purchase, many of the elements are also meant to enhance it.

Kamyar Arjomand, mobile and emerging experiences director at Aldo, says that as a specialty fashion retailer, it can sometimes be difficult to show its products in context as part of the whole look, a challenge that’s addressed by connecting customers with lifestyle content.

“A common pain point we hear is something along the lines of, ‘I love these orange heels, but have no idea what I would wear them with,’” he says. “Part of what we achieve with this is that ability to bring a fuller context of outfits and looks into our store so customers can now see exactly what they could style our products with.”

Baret says while the experience of the new store fits best with the kind of brand positioning Aldo has been looking to establish, the company is exploring ways certain elements – namely the ones related to accelerating the sales process and making it more convenient – could be deployed at other Aldo Group-owned banners like Call it Spring and Globo.

Photo courtesy Luciana Pampalone (CNW Group/Kinetic Cafe/Aldo)