Technology Met Retail at Toronto's Dx3 Conference

Photo: Dx3

Photo: Dx3

By Naomi Turner, J.C. Williams Group

During the recent Dx3 tradeshow and conference, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, March 11–12, J.C. Williams Group encountered a number of exciting product demonstrations and displays on the latest technologies that will be rocking the retail world.

Here are a few of the most notable booths we encountered at the tradeshow.

Holographic Displays

The Virtual Messenger

The Virtual Messenger provides companies with the ability to incorporate interactive visual presentations in their marketing and sales efforts. Products includes 3D holographic avatars, live windows (i.e., interactive holograms on glass or rear window of car), and virtual kiosks.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to see Virtual Messenger’s holographic avatar in action.

Virtual Messenger provides retailers and brands with an interesting and entertaining way to interact with, attract, and engage consumers, advertise products, and display or present information.

Use Virtual Messenger to:

  • Introduce a new product to customers in-store
  • Greet guests at an exclusive event
  • Grab attention while highlighting specials at a restaurant

Holographic Technologies

Holographic Technologies provides customized holographic display solutions.

The 3D holographic image is shown above centered in a prism-like display case. The 3D image rotates and can be viewed from any angle when navigating around the display. An interactive touchscreen pad allows the user to manipulate the holographic display (i.e., view different products or actions).

While the interactive touchscreen is an optional function, it does provide a fun and entertaining way for retailers to educate and entice consumers on product assortments and brand extensions while in the store.

It also reduces the need for products to be shipped out in physical format in order to showcase it. With the touch of an email you could send the necessary files to your counterparts to showcase your brand!

Augmented Reality

According to Icreon Tech and Deloitte among others, Augmented Reality (AR) has been cited as one of the top technology trends to take off in 2015.


Blippar provides a complete line of services for retailers to launch their own immersive AR campaigns. Using the camera on a smartphone, tablet, or wearable device to recognize images that are “blippable,” users are provided with a response that can range from “unlocking” videos, exclusive offers, interactive games, 3D experiences, product information, and more.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to see some of Blippar’s amazing mobile augmented reality campaigns.

Blippar displayed on product packaging for Pepsi

Blippar displayed on product packaging for Pepsi

Regardless of the intended purpose of this technology, there is no denying that it offers new and creative ways for retailers to interact with consumers and enhance the overall customer experience. As this trend continues to grow, retailers should not only keep this on their radar, but also start thinking of creative ways to implement their own AR strategies.

Peek Augmented Reality

Peek provides retailers with the ability to “pop-up shop in consumer places and spaces.” (Peek)

Similar to the 2014 IKEA Catalog app, users can arrange, rotate, and remove objects in a photorealistic setting that takes into account the correct scale and lighting conditions.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more about PEEK.

Demonstration of Peek app: A “marker” is placed on the floor, which then brings a realistic representation of the products to life on screen

Demonstration of Peek app: A “marker” is placed on the floor, which then brings a realistic representation of the products to life on screen

Swivel by FaceCake’s Virtual Dressing Room and Beauty Bar

Virtual dressing rooms have been in the market for some time but have yet to gain full-blown adoption by retailers. However with advances in technology, the experience it provides continues to improve. Swivel by FaceCake’s virtual dressing room and Beauty Bar are the latest examples of this fun, useful, and innovative technology. It is more realistic than previous models and offers new features such as social sharing and built-in links for easy purchases.

Swivel virtual dressing room using Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect technology, featured at Microsoft’s booth

Swivel virtual dressing room using Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect technology, featured at Microsoft’s booth

Beauty Bar – users can experiment with various types and combinations of cosmetics and accessories.

Beauty Bar – users can experiment with various types and combinations of cosmetics and accessories.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more about Swivel by FaceCake’s virtual dressing room and digital beauty bar.

Will this technology replace physically trying on clothes or having a professional make-up artist apply cosmetics? No, but it provides another avenue for consumers to research products and brands.  It enables “trying on” certain merchandise like accessories (e.g., handbags, scarfs) and jewellery, as well as experimenting with different shades and combinations of cosmetics and providing assistance in finding the perfect outfit or “look.” The only downside to this technology is that at this time it cannot perfectly adjust to body shape and size, or mimic various application techniques of cosmetics.

3D Printing

In the past few years, we have seen the 3D printing revolution unfold. Though still in its early stages, as this technology continues to advance and new uses and benefits for this technology are realized, the impact of this technology could become yet another game-changer in retailing.


3DMakeable designs and develops custom 3D printed products and offers custom workshops where they teach attendees how to build, configure and calibrate their own 3D printer.

The Maker Space at Dx3 – includes 3DMakeable

The Maker Space at Dx3 – includes 3DMakeable

An example of a DIY 3D printer

An example of a DIY 3D printer

3D-printed products

3D-printed products

Is the idea of a 3D printer becoming a staple in every consumer household premature? Perhaps, but giving the rapid growth we saw in smartphone penetration or personal computers, it’s not crazy.

3D printers in general provide many benefits for entrepreneurs, R&D, product designers, manufacturers, etc., but on the consumer side, this technology introduces an alternative to current e-commerce practices – buy online, print at home. Now that’s instant gratification that even “same-day shipping” can’t compete with. With the assistance of a 3D printer, consumers would have the ability to buy the product design online directly from the retailer or supplier, and print instantaneously in the comfort of their own home. The application spans across many industries, such as hardware and toys.

In Summary

What do all of these technology tools have in common? They all work to enhance the customer experience, whether at home, online or in the store. With increasing competition and the rapid shifts in consumer behavior, technology plays a key role in differentiating brands and retailers. Brands that are out-of-sync with today’s retail technology or unaware of the massive changes coming rapidly down the road, risk being put out-of-business.

J.C. Williams Group is a well-known, full-service retail and marketing consulting firm. It offers clients practical, creative, and in-depth knowledge of retailing and marketing, including up-to-date know-how and techniques to make retail operations better and more profitable. You can also read their informative blog, Retaileye, here:

Today's Retail News From Around The Web: March 24, 2015