In a time of global chaos, we outline the steps businesses can take to imagine new scenarios and build future-fit strategies to turn uncertainty into action.

Need To Know
04 : 03 : 21

Ocado’s B Corp grocery aisle, intelligent hygienic supermarket touchscreens and China’s e-commerce sales are set to reach a historic high in 2021.

A hygienic interface for the touchscreens of tomorrow

Moving Buttons by Special Projects, UK

UK – Innovation agency Special Projects has created an algorithmic concept that dramatically reduces our contact with public self-checkouts.

The concept, Moving Buttons, allows up to 50 people to use a touchscreen without ever tapping the same spot, giving customers a safer way to use shared interfaces such as self-service checkouts. The technology, which requires only a software update, works by intelligently moving the position of buttons around the screen for each new customer. The system then alerts staff when it is ready to be cleaned.

The concept is designed to provoke businesses to look to algorithms in order to combat the spread of Covid-19 and other germs, as consumers become increasingly aware of how they navigate shared environments. According to Adrian Westaway, principal of Special Projects, the agency ‘wanted to visualise how this transaction could be made safer through innovative interface design and put customers at lower risk of coming into contact with other customers’.

To find out more ways designers are reframing the visual language of social distancing, read our design direction, Positive Barriers.

Amazon’s Build It democratises product development

Amazon Build It, US Amazon Build It, US
Amazon Build It, US Amazon Build It, US

US – The online retailer’s latest crowdfunding project, Build It, encourages consumers to vote on its next Alexa-enabled product.

The new venture is part of the Day 1 Editions programme, which invites consumer feedback on upcoming devices. As part of its research and development process, Amazon presents a series of concept designs to consumers. Each product has a pre-order goal to meet within 30 days, so in order for a customer to vote, they pre-order their favourite idea. The winning one then goes into production and consumers are only charged if a product meets their target.

By creating Build It, Amazon intends to meet consumer needs directly, by only making products that its user base would buy. Opting for a crowdfunding approach allows the firm to save money on concepts that will not make a profit. Current concept ideas include a smart sticky note printer, a smart nutrition scale and a cuckoo clock.

Brands like Amazon are treating consumer interactions as a valuable opportunity to improve their offer. For more, discover Feedback Frontiers.

Ocado’s sustainable aisle spotlights B Corp brands

Ocado B Corp Aisle, UK Ocado B Corp Aisle, UK

UK – The pureplay grocer has launched a dedicated aisle for B Corp-certified suppliers designed to give its customers greener and more sustainable choices.

According to the retailer, the aisle features more than 1,100 products from more than 35 B Corp-certified suppliers, such as Pip & Nut, Alpro, Method, and Teapigs. The move is part of Ocado’s wider commitment to sustainability, which includes achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. To achieve B Corp status, brands must meet some of the highest standards in social and environmental performance.

‘Our B Corp aisle is a really positive step for both our customers and our sustainability efforts,’ says Jo West, head of sustainability at Ocado. ‘We’re delighted to be making greener choices easier for Ocado customers by gathering all these amazing brands that have made a commitment to building a more sustainable future in one easy-to-find place.’

In an age of Post-purpose Brands, consumers are becoming more wary of greenwashing and are seeking certifiably sustainable options.

Stat: Digital innovation drives China’s e-commerce boom

Pop-up X Department Store, exploring a non-contact retail experience by Nikita Kay Pop-up X Department Store, exploring a non-contact retail experience by Nikita Kay

According to research by eMarketer, by the end of 2021 over half (52%) of retail sales in China will be made online, making it the first country to reach this milestone. Online retail sales in the country rose by 27.5% in 2020, and the analytics firm predicts e-commerce will grow by another 21% by the end of this year. By contrast, bricks-and-mortar sales fell by 18.6% in 2020 and are expected to decline by a further 9.8% in 2021.

The research cites digital platforms such as Alibaba and WeChat as the reason for this surge. Their accessibility, ease of use and reliability have encouraged users to adopt digital retail at a much faster rate than in Western markets.

As the retail industry continues to evolve in 2021, we explore the growing digital landscape in our forthcoming Retail Futures 2021 online event. Buy a ticket here.

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