Once a year, our growing tech community clusters at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for Dx3, Canada’s largest digital conference and trade show. Focused on the intersection of digital technology, digital marketing, and digital retail, the two-day event attracts everyone from budding startups to bigwig brands.
You don’t have to look any further than companies like Uber and Airbnb to understand how digital isn’t just disrupting industries—it’s completely rewiring the economy. I wandered the Dx3 showroom floor to find out what’s new and next for digital marketing and digital retail in Canada. Here are three trends I spotted.
1. Bridging Bricks with Clicks
Online shopping is great for accessories, electronics, and generally anything you don’t need to touch or try on. But how do we bridge the gap between window shopping online and the in-store experience? Mastercard teamed up with the Nymi band and changeRoom for Dx3 to answer to this very question.
ChangeRoom is an interface that offers seamless shopping experiences from point of interest to point of purchase. Shoppers can create wish lists while browsing online and then reserve change rooms at specific times at retail locations of their choice. Using Nymi’s heartbeat authentication technology, retail staff can be alerted when a customer walks in the store. Think of it like a personal shopping experience for the masses. Mastercard, of course, comes in when it’s time to pay; Payments can be made via point of sale systems or via the user’s smartphone.
Another company merging the online/offline experience is Toronto-based Turnstyle Solutions, a software for locations like restaurants, hotels, malls, and cafes. Turnstyle wants to help retail outlets monetize their Wi-Fi by offering controlled connectivity within venues. Last week, the company announced it’s teaming up with Subway Restaurants to offer free in-store Wi-Fi for locations across Northern Ontario.
2. Immersive, Interactive Experiences
Toronto-based digital agency Art & Science was on the scene to make a case for immersive marketing. The company highlighted how the right mix of creativity and technology can pull people into your brand.
Pandering to the “selfie generation” (read: me), the agency featured a wall of creative ways of seeing yourself, including a mutli-image webcam and a Pixel Painter. At another station, participants were invited to design a custom fish on their smartphone via a native app and then flick the fish into a virtual tank.
While Art & Science sought to create memorable experiences that users could interact with and share via social media, another company had a less subtle way of getting into attendee’s heads.
Brainsights, a Toronto research and strategy film, was on the showroom floor using neuro-measurement technologies to understand how the audience’s brains respond to advertising. This, my friends, is the business of brain data.
More than 200 volunteer participants were shown a series of TV commercials while wearing brain-sensing headbands that measured their brain activity. The Make Works-based company says they’re using this technology for consumer research.
3. Maker Movement Making Waves
If you’re ignoring the maker movement, then you’re missing the mark. Makers—people taking tools into their own hands and inventing stuff — are changing the world right now, and their presence was definitely felt at Dx3.
While some may wonder what crafters are doing at a tech trade show, you need only scratch the surface to see how tinkerers make sense in a space dedicated to exploring digital retail; With the growing popularity of payment technologies and platforms such as Square, Shopify, and Etsy, makers are no longer a subculture—they’re spawning a mass movement.
Photos courtesy Amanda Rebecca Cosco.