Retail and events have a lot in common. Both sectors are focused on providing the best possible experience—be it for the customer or delegate. So, it’s no surprise that some of the technological advancements that are revolutionising retail are finding their way over to the events arena.
Take Aisle411, for example, developed to transform the way brands connect with in-store shoppers. The platform, which can be integrated to retailers’ existing apps, empowers mobile users to search and locate products within retail stores down to their exact location. It can also be used to deliver timely and relevant messaging to shoppers, influencing their purchase intent.
Track and trace
Already being used by US brands including Walgreens and Toys 'R' Us, leading events agency Pico International has signed a deal to roll out the technology in Asia and will be introducing it to the events sector for the first time.
Gregory Crandall, director of brand engagement for Pico in Hong Kong, says: “As owners of one of the largest signage companies in China, we were looking for a technology solution to make signage more intelligent and came across Aisle411.”
He says that while there are some event way-finding solutions available that use beacons, they are not very accurate, whereas Aisle411 can locate products to within 12 centimetres.
He explains what makes Aisle411 unique is the layering of different technologies: “Firstly, indoor mapping of the space; secondly product placement, so what is actually inside the maps; then user triangulation so where you actually are in the map; and lastly augmented reality, which enables content to be added to enhance the user experience.”
Pico will offer the technology direct to large convention centres in key markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and China, who can offer it as a platform to event organisers to enable delegates to easily navigate their way around events and receive content through augmented reality on their mobile devices.
“The solution also provides organisers with incredibly accurate data showing where people are moving and how they are spending their time at events, which can be analysed and used to make improvements on-the-fly,” he adds.
Another technology that has revolutionised the retail sector and is now transforming events is cashless or contactless payments. Badges or wristbands embedded with RFID chips are becoming an increasingly popular method for transactions at events.
Event technology company Nutickets has developed a solution called NuCashless, which uses NFC (near-field communication) and RFID (radio frequency identification) technology similar to that found in contactless bank cards, to enable event organisers to take cashless payments at their events— faster, more efficient and convenient for attendees.
It says that unlike contactless cards, NuCashless can be used both online and offline and also has the added benefits that event organisers can capture customer information, providing great customer insight for improving their future events, and boosts on-site spending, increasing event revenues by 30 per cent or more.
Indeed, RFID has revolutionised many industries, not just retail. UK software developer Codegate, which specialises in mobile computing and track and trace, has been using RFID for many years in the logistics field. Product manager Glyn Matthews says the company found itself developing solutions for the events industry after a client asked for its help in improving the process of getting people in and out of events quickly and locating where people are.
“So many events still use barcodes for event badges, which requires someone to scan you in and out and can cause congestion and queues,” he explains. Codegate’s software uses RFID chips in badges, which while not unique in itself as there are other badge solutions that use RFID, is different because it uses ultra-high frequency (UHF) RHID.
“I’ve seen solutions that use low-frequency RFID or NFC, which still require a badge to be touched by a scanner or be as close as just a few centimetres away,” says Matthews. “UHF has a longer read range so we can place scanning posts at entry and exit points and strategically around the event making it a much easier and more convenient way of tracking delegates’ movements.”
Over in the real estate sector, robotic drones have revolutionised the way estate agents are selling properties. Immersive photography and video footage is easy to capture and presents the benefits of a property more succinctly than a written brochure ever could. Similarly, this technology is being applied in the events space by the likes of Marriott to showcase venues.
In the US, experiential marketing agency Freeman added drone technology to its Plantour platform to capture multiple facility views that are immediately converted to a high-definition virtual tour. This enables planners to narrow down the number of venues they want to actually visit, and also check spaces in detail virtually when they are making their final selections.
The opportunities for drones at events don’t end there. From virtual destination tours and live-streaming video content to deliveries to exhibitor booths, the potential for drone technology, and indeed the other technologies being adopted, are incredibly exciting for the events sector.