In 2019, I attended an incubator challenge where I believe we pitched an early layer of shopping in the metaverse (a very early layer that is).
This event, Target Incubator Conference, was held in Minneapolis, where Target is headquartered, over three days. Some 50+ entrepreneurs gathered in a conference room of the downtown Hilton. Tables were evenly distributed across the room and attendees were split evenly into groups, about 15 teams. We were then presented with the challenge...
Target asked us to innovate the in-store customer experience by addressing common problems.
The challenge was to solve a common problem people face that has both digital and physical characteristics and to solve them within the Target locations. Everything from groceries to hygiene, transportation to payments, childcare to mental health; any could be solved for.
Innovating customer experiences was the motivation.
What if the experiences of both physical and virtual shopping were combined?
The problem we focused on was children. Specifically, how to manage children who get bored, distracted, and or begin disturbing other shoppers.
So we asked ourselves, "what do children want to do most?"
Children want to play. So let's give them a game. We started with the idea of adding a "shopping journey" where you're guided through the store based on your grocery list. The phone can be locked onto the front of the shopping cart and within the directions are fun games - augmented reality would place easter eggs, prizes, and interactive interface to keep a child both engaged and learning in the process.
We then explained that the game would be the first step to revolutionizing the shopping experience. What our solution was creating was behavior to interact with a virtual store, a new storefront altogether. Imagine if pointing the phone at certain aisles provided you with specific discounts or rewards, encouraging shoppers to spend more time at the store.
This sealed it for our team.
We not only won the incubator challenge but had the opportunity to pitch the idea to Target executives.
We won the incubator challenge and had the opportunity to pitch the idea to Target executives.
Acknowledging the human aspect of our solution created an intense focus for our team and forming that message led to our success.
But what we really did was uncover an opportunity to merge both the physical and virtual experiences of shopping.
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