The future of retail: New initiatives from co-ops in Italy and Switzerland

We take a look at Coop Italia’s new app, ShoppY, and Livique, the rebranded furniture store at Switzerland’s Coop

A report on global customer trends for 2019 from Euromonitor International reveals that customers increasingly want efficient lifestyles and frictionless
shopping experiences.

According to the research, more and more shoppers are using apps to help them organise their lives and tech that helps them avoid queues, reduce waiting time, and synchronise their personal information and preferences.

Euromonitor International expects technology to continue to drive this trend, which is particularly prominent among those aged 30-44, with almost half of this segment willing to spend money on products or services that save them time.

In light of this report, Co-op News presents a look at how retail co-ops on the continent are adopting new technology to help their members and customers save time and money.

Coop Italia Supermarket of the Future concept

Coop Italia has pioneered new retail experiences with its Supermarket of the Future in Milan – and now it is taking another leap forward for its customers with the launch of ShoppY, a virtual shopping assistant.

The new serve helps cement Coop Italia into its place at the forefront of retail innovation, and will be available to customers at its flagship store.

Developed by Accenture and Avanade using Microsoft technology, the chatbot is available on the Supermarket of the Future’s Facebook page.

ShoppY uses machine-learning algorithms to learn on its own from the information on shopping receipts in order to provide customers with a helpful service. To use it, customers simply need to like the Supermercato del Futuro Coop page and drop a message. The chatbot recognises if it has already had a conversation with the user.

Users can then create their own shopping lists or select a list they’ve already made. To create the list they just list the products they need, separated by
a comma.

Once the list is created, ShoppY examines it and gives purchase recommendations and displays promotions. Customers can also find out when the store is open and access a map showing them where in the store each product on the list can be found.

The Supermarket of the Future was first showcased at the Expo Milano in 2015. Two years later the concept was brought to reality with the opening of the pilot store on the Bicocca University campus in Milan.

The store, hailed as a trailblazer for new in-store tech, features large interactive tables and real-time data screens that provide product information and personalise the shopping experience.

Importantly, the store also harks back to Italy’s rich food heritage, using the digital tech to create the feel of a local open-air market.

Designed by architect Carlo Ratti, the store uses Microsoft Kinect sensors to detect shoppers’ movements and interact with them at the shelves.

Customers can get information about products simply by pointing at them; motion sensors trigger a display of information, including ingredients, potential allergens, the origin of the product and its carbon footprint.

Coop Italia can use the data gathered to optimise layout of stores, change displays and improve marketing.

Livique blends online and in-store shopping

New store concept for Coop Switzerland’s furniture business

In a bid to improve customer experience, Switzerland’s Coop has rebranded its Toptip furniture business – the fourth largest in the country – as Livique.

The new store concept aims to combine the benefits of online and in-store shopping. The first store to be revamped opened in October, with more than 20,000 items on display.

Staff are equipped with tablets which they use to help customers view items on display in multiple shapes and colours. Customers can also personalise furniture, choosing different shapes, colours and additional functions when placing an order.

The rebranding and revamping of the furniture stores responds to the increase in online shopping among Swiss furniture customers, with more than 60% starting to buy furniture online and then visiting the store to see and test it before completing the process.

Swiss Coop’s rebranded Livique store

The website enables customers to check availabilities, arrange personal consultation appointments and order or reserve items of furniture. Smaller items can be ordered online and delivered to one the to Coop Switzerland’s 500 retail outlets.

Using augmented virtual reality headsets to create a version of their desired setting, customers can also get an idea of how the furniture would look once it is put in place.

Livique also runs a line of lighting products called Lumiart, which offers over 2,000 products. In-store shoppers will be able to use the virtual reality sets to experience different lighting options in living spaces. Using smartphone apps, customers can also activate and deactivate lamps or adjust lighting

Across its outlets and website the retailer is offering a range of over 100 million customisable furniture options.