At glasses.com, which launched four years ago, the goal was to offer not only virtual try-ons but to learn what pain-points in the eyeglass-purchase transaction could be easily solved for the then-98 percent of customers who had bought glasses in a physical storefront, said Harris. “We learned how to drive customer engagement,” he said. The demographic of the site users is that they are “style story-tellers who wear glasses not just for utility but to tell a story about themselves. . . Consumer attitude is critical. It pushes you, as it’s the customer, ultimately, who shows you what they need.”
Ripples, said Meshulam, answers needs of baby boomers looking for the ultimate in engagement and personalization. The company has just forged a deal with Lufthansa that will put its Ripple Makers, which 3D print images atop cappuccino and latte foam, into the airline’s First and Business Class lounges.
Skaff of The Science Project said that the intensity of customers’ retail experience is “about a value exchange. Retailers [heretofore] have looked to promotions as primary value exchanges with their customers. We look at what other kinds of value can be exchanged; we work with brands and develop those strategies.” He spoke of the potential of beacons, the connectivity technology that can send messages or prompts to a customer’s smartphone and thus, offer a personalized shopping experience, but which is still at an early stage of being used imaginatively; “we’re on the cusp of being able to offer that now. . . At retail, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. As a retailer, you have to try something, and mobile with beacons is a relatively inexpensive way to do that.”