By Aimee Chanthadavong

The revolution to retailing, advertising and marketing has arrived.

After almost three years in the making, Melbourne/Sydney-based digital agency tkm9 has introduced an interactive technology that is only imaginable to the everyday consumer in SC-FI films such as Minority Report.

The technology is the next generation in retail interaction spaces, which uses a combination of screen projections, touchscreens and augmented reality. It can be customised for retailers to change the way their customers shop and can be used on any sized space.

To see an example of the technology in action click here.

Sitting down with Retailbiz, Mark Hodgens, tkm9 managing and business director, says the technology was only a natural progression to what was needed in the retail market, with a focus of moving away from print.

“What we’re seeing is that retail is not only about buying but also about information, so what we’re trying to do is get people immersed in a user-experience format. It’s about stop, engage and getting them to see something they haven’t seen before, which makes them want to interact with. So now it’s about using different devices and replacing print,” he says.

The basic functionalities of the technology have been shaped with eCommerce in mind, where interaction takes place through retail spaces and online. It has the possibilities of connecting a consumer with a product to related topics by adventuring outside a retail store. For example, purchasing a pair of shorts through this technology can bring in suggestions of travel plans to Thailand through to buying airfares and making hotel reservations. This can be seen here.

According to Chris McLean, tkm9 managing and strategy director, the evolution of technology has made the design possible.

“We’re taking a whole bunch of cool stuff that we can currently do online and we are using these function as a lead for our design. We want to be able to take these functionalities such as buying online and putting it anywhere and like on a shop window, in-store and on the mobile,” he says.

“There’s a definite evolution because technology is capable of that and it’s really finding how do you put that through a creative process and deliver something different.

“Also, it’s about consumer lifestyle and making sure the technology is able to offer consumers an experience and what else can be entailed in a journey if the shorts are bought.”

With the benefits of multi-channelling for retailers becoming more prominent; this is just another portal for it, Hodgens says.

“It’s not so much about the element of being accessible nine to five. It’s about when the store shuts; people can still interact with the retailer because now when we’re talking about retail, it’s not only within shopping centres but the retail environment extends to places like airports, stadiums and within the home. Consumers will no longer to need to be at a shop to shop, they can be at a bus shelter and can still interact and buy,” he says.

“It’s also about being mobile as well. Now a retail space can be synced to my mobile phone and I can have an amazing shopping experience I can also share it with my friends through social networking, which means time poor consumers can get more interaction.”

Andy Jensen, tkm9’s retail and strategy partner, adds it’s about coming up with this technology to engage that no one has ever seen before that is mixed with above the line, below the line and out of home; the combination is very strong.

The success of the technology was evident when tkm9 teamed up with Schweppes at the Sydney Bar Show 2010. The company delivered the Schweppes Mixology stage that combined augmented reality using symbols, gestures, 3D TV without the use of glasses and 2D/3D projection. It enabled attendees to play with bubbles, be recommended a Schweppes drink before having their photo taken as part of the experience, which can be viewed here.

Similarly, tkm9 also featured retail and information interactives at the F1 in Abu Dhabi, one of the features enabled people to configure their dream car before having their picture taken in it. 

When asked why they thought these projects were a success, Hodgens say it comes down to ensuring there’s a point of difference.

“We have clients that come to us and say we want that point of difference, we want you to come up with something new, something engaging that the store next door doesn’t have or that shopping centre doesn’t have,” he says.

“It has that wow factor, that point of difference and that engagement. But what we also wanted to do was relate it back to their product or service. So it’s about bringing things to market that people haven’t seen before because within the retailing environment consumers are hungry for that.”