Expo Riva Schuh proposes itself, edition after edition, as the reference appointment for international business, but also, and increasingly, as the not-to-be-missed appointment with product and service innovation. A concrete example of this 'vocation for innovation' is the Innovation Village Retail space, which also featured ten innovative start-ups in the June 2022 edition of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags. Three themes in which the various projects can foster innovation, themes crucial to providing an increasingly immersive and efficient shopping experience.

Tracking the movement of people and products

Information is the focus of all innovation processes. Informing consumers about product features and supply chain is one of the increasingly central demands, just as it is important for retailers to receive information regarding consumer behavior. G Move, an innovative and effective technology that enables Customer Experience as a service monitoring for physical spaces through proprietary sensors that collect data on smartphone movement, has thought of this. Not a new concept. What is new is that this technology does not require the smartphone to be connected to a network lining the store, just as no specific app needs to be downloaded, and it works even if the customer's wi-fi is turned off. G Move offers several advantages in the area of marketing and home automation, allowing, for example, to know the number of people in the store, the time spent, the percentage of returns over time, and thus measure the effectiveness of the layout of the space.

Staying in the area of traceability, we discover MyUniqo. A technology that relies on customized seals that, when applied to products, can be read by ordinary devices to track and identify any type of product. This makes it possible to ensure the authenticity of the goods on display, as well as to know their place and date of production, or to find a lost or stolen product. Every reading step and every variation is recorded in a Block Chain system.

Finally, Ribes Tech: a startup that produces flexible and inexpensive photovoltaic films capable of providing a sustainable energy reserve to all kinds of products. The films can be printed in large volumes on simple plastic substrates in any size or color, and offer the possibility of making electronic devices totally independent because they are self-powered. Ribes Tech represents, therefore, an integrable solution for energy harvesting in wireless devices and enabling the internet of things inside every store.

Data tracking to improve supply chain and sustainability

As we said, deriving as much information as possible about a product's life throughout the supply chain is undoubtedly crucial not only for the shopping experience itself, but also for optimizing the value chain and improving product sustainability. This is demonstrated by the start-up Alfred 24, which offers online and offline solutions for shipping: online, Alfred24's dashboard integrates with all e-commerce platforms and improves sales and purchasing experiences; while offline, Alfred24's network of more than 6,500 partner points in Italy and strategic agreements with publishing distribution allow Alfred24 proximity deliveries and sharing economy services such as Point2Point and Wharehouse2Point, with greater customer proximity and delivery speed, as well as sustainability benefits.  In fact, Alfred24 does not create a duplicate of the existing distribution network in the territory, but rather makes the most of it. Moreover, by serving as a hub for many customers, it can negotiate the best terms with couriers and offer companies and brands excellent conditions. The customer pays for the delivery service requested, with no minimum quantity requirements. Not only in Italy, but also cross-boarders to Asia.

The birth of Lifedata, however, starts from an assumption: while it is true that people spend a lot of time online between Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, e-commerce, etc., it is also true that most sales still take place offline, especially in the area of footwear. So how can we improve the profitability of sales channels and maybe even do some good for the planet? LIFEdata is the retailtech company that leverages data left behind by the user while browsing online to simplify omnichanneling, while also doing good for the planet. In fact, LIFEdata enables data sharing to provide the user with the solution they are looking for in real time. For example, if the consumer finds the shoe he is interested in online, LIFEdata tells him which is the nearest physical store where to buy it or connects him with the retail manager in order to create an on/offline relationship. A mechanism designed to create an easy, fast and pleasant shopping experience.

Big data management is also always talked about with Wenda, the collaborative dynamic supply management platform that helps automate supply chain data to provide better governance, transparency and sustainability. Wenda extracts data from orders, ddt, invoices, packing lists, telematics, ERP, WMS, TMS and organizes it to execute operations, coordinate the network and gain visibility or to send it to third-party systems. Wenda manages supply chain and logistics network data to execute and plan actions more effectively. With a single platform, it is possible to share supplier-customer data, automate daily workflows, and reduce shipping operations and inventory costs. The challenge is to get all supply chain players, everywhere in the world, to use the same data set and platform.

Wiseside, on the other hand, offers B2B services for E2E supply chain digitization, via the iChain platform, providing a digital representation of processes (digital twin). The data collected form a large structured base on which to activate customized services of consumptive and predictive analytics. iChain provides a graphical, and structured view of processes, enabling companies to make immediate and timely decisions based on the very data collected. iChain is, in fact, a platform where each data uploaded refers to a specific event, which is observable, measurable and relevant to the process of interest and which includes at least 4 pieces of information, known as the "4 Ws" (what, when, where and why).

Tracking online customer behavior and feedback

Traceability also means tracking, collecting and analyzing data that comes from consumers' online activities. Just as Wonderflow does whose idea comes to life from an observation: despite the amount of data that companies have at their disposal through consumer feedback, they are rarely able to use it to make decisions. Some of this is because feedback is complex data, which consumers often express using local slang, sarcastic phrases, etc. that artificial intelligence cannot decipher. Added to this is the fact that data is often not shared lining the same company, not getting a 360-degree view of what is really important to the consumer. Wonderflow operates in customer analytics globally, extracting useful information from all the feedback consumers leave (posts, comments, emails…), to support companies in product innovation, customer experience and strategic marketing. A remarkable result achieved thanks to a native language team capable of correctly understanding feedback, and thanks to a kind of 'training' given to artificial intelligence so as to contextualize product and brand. A platform that can be customized according to the needs and feeling of the brand and company. To give an example: in a store in Florence during the pandemic period, it was realized that customer satisfaction had dropped because the store lacked sanitizing gel, the store was often too crowded, and the staff did not wear masks. Customers did not feel safe.

OpenMall, on the other hand, addresses the increasingly topical issue of the metaverse, which new generations of consumers are very attentive to. OpenMall is a Social Commerce entirely managed by artificial intelligence, which through an interactive 3D platform, virtual assistants and augmented reality offers users and stores a unique and personalized experience based on their needs, to lead them, through their avatars, into an extraordinary metaverse integrated with blockchain and NFT. OpenMall's goal is to offer an immersive metaverse using hyper-realistic avatars and mixing virtual reality, augmented reality, AI and digital science.

Simple and ingenious is the intuition behind MeteoSales: the idea is to collect data based no longer on the user's profile (age, gender, profession, etc.) but on the contextual situation (location, time of day, temperature, and weather). Free data that does not require cookies or permission from the client to be collected. Weather influences purchasing behavior by 40%. MeteoSales has created a dashboard and Analytics system to help marketers manage consumer information. Thus, the MeteoAlgorithm associates products and CTAs with specific weather conditions, while the InStore feature suggests the right storefront to create based on weather and season. Finally, an AI writing assistant compiles text for the site's sales pages or to send consistent emails to customers. An in-progress system that also monitors and records purchases made to further improve future suggestions.

Tracking and analyzing data, then, is undoubtedly the way forward if the retail world, whether via storefront or monitor, is to look forward to a future filled with engaged and happy consumers, and above all, willing to spend.