Di Di Chan

President of FutureProof Retail

Di Di Chan is the President and Co-Founder of FutureProof Retail, a New York-based company with the mission of bringing touch-free frictionless shopping technologies into physical retail stores. FutureProof leads in providing simple, quality, and customizable Mobile Checkout and Mobile Order Ahead solutions for retailers.

Di Di is a global entrepreneur who is passionate about technology, education, and sustainability. Her experience and network in over 15 different countries directly shape FutureProof Retail’s global vision, bringing their solutions to three continents and five different types of retail to date. She holds an M.A. in Economics from New York University and a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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  • Posted on: 11/25/2020

    Can category management catch up to the omnichannel shift?

    Absolutely! Category captains are still the captain. Successful omnichannel solutions and strategies start by listening and responding to the retailer’s needs, not the other way around. Technology is capable of answering many of the retailer’s pain-points. It is also capable of answering too many not-yet-pain points. Category captains have the experience to know which questions are a priority to their business. Their navigation skills will be critical in keeping their omnichannel journey focused, relevant, and successful.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    To furlough or not to furlough?

    It is a big mistake to frame the pandemic situation as a choice between either the economy or the community's health and safety. We are living in one of the wealthiest and most advanced nations in the world. We should not be debating do we save the economy or the people when we have the resource and capability to do both. When we go through a GLOBAL pandemic, this warrants an emergency response to take care of each other and get through the crisis first. There are enough case studies worldwide where business and political leaders have worked together to keep both the economy and the people healthy. We likewise can and should do both by focusing on how we can contain the virus while keeping our economy thriving - instead of trying to choose which one is more important.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2020

    Should landlords get a cut of online sales?

    Hahahaha -- epic boss answer!
  • Posted on: 11/20/2020

    How can retailers avert a holiday returns catastrophe?

    The best way for retailers to mitigate the cost of returns is to address why customers are returning the goods directly. For example, in the fashion industry, one of the biggest reasons for online return is a mismatched expectation when it comes to fitting or style. Retail technology can help solve these problems. Adidas, Macy's, and Modcloth are testing out virtual fitting rooms to improve fit using Zeekit's technology. Sozie solves the online fitting issue by offering on-demand user and employee-generated content of fashion try on. A simple way to reduce mismatched expectation of an item's quality is to improve the photo details. Zoomlook's technology enables retailers to convert their existing still images into detailed VR "easily zoomed-in" pictures so shoppers can experience looking at product details the way they would naturally examine a fabric detail they are curious about in person. Once retailers get to the point of returns, a popular alternative is to enable shoppers to instead resell items through the circular economy. Levi's and Gucci are leading a less wasteful and more sustainable approach by encouraging their shoppers to participate in the second-hand resell market. Reflaunt is an example of a technology platform that promotes sustainability by offering white-label solutions for brands to reclaim their second-hand market while building brand loyalty.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Can retailers get store brand growth back on track during the pandemic?

    There's a big difference between buying - purchasing what shoppers need as fast as possible; and shopping - a full experience that involves browsing, discovering, and having fun in stores. During the pandemic, most shoppers do not have a fun shopping experience. They are buying what they need in the most convenient way possible. That's not a shift in shopper's preference for shopping - it is a response to the pandemic. The desire for shopping, like the desire to eat out and socialize more, have not gone away. If anything, they have only increased. A good indication is to look at e-commerce growth; even during the pandemic, more than 85 percent of shoppers are still shopping in stores. Private brands benefit more when shoppers have more time to enjoy shopping and try different products. Some grocery stores are using technology to give shoppers a more efficient shopping time. For instance, Westside Market is the first to use location navigation technology (provided by SIRL). Inside Westside Market's mobile checkout application, shoppers can search for a product and the app will quickly navigate them there. The navigation technology helps reduce search anxiety in stores and enables shoppers to discover and pick what brands they like. Another rising technology assisting shoppers in enjoying discovering new products and brands is Halla's personalized recommendations engines. Halla uses recipes and taste profiles to recommend relevant brands to shoppers online and offline. The shopping experience will come back. It might look different from before the pandemic and may incorporate more technology in-stores. At the end of the day, the objective of creating an enriching environment for shoppers to discover and enjoy a full shopping experience is the heart of retail, and that will never go away.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2020

    Target and Walmart’s 3Q results are just – Wow!

    Target and Walmart are innovation leaders in retail. Both companies invest heavily in technology as a means of growth and have hundreds of developers in their internal teams (based on their LinkedIn pages). Both companies' development strategies help shape and measure the growth of new retail technology solutions. A strength of Walmart is to set the direction for the entire retail industry. Walmart tends to build a lot of their technologies internally from the beginning of the new technology's market entrance (e.g., e-commerce, personalization, omnichannel approach, scan-and-go frictionless checkout) - this means they have more internal control over their own growth and they tend to have a larger external impact on what directions other retailers will follow with their innovation. A strength of Target is efficiency and collaboration. Target has a reputation of being more open to working with outside providers first. They are often not the first adopters when there's a new technology on the market. They will typically wait until a new solution has gone through at least one iteration. At that point, they are one of the few retail giants that are more open to working with third-party providers before deciding what part they will build themselves. This saves Target a lot of early-stage investment fees and often enables Target to rapidly catch up on the benefits of the newest technology enhancements. When Target rolls out new technology, it is a good validation that technology is approaching market acceptance and maturity.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2020

    Chipotle’s expansion plans include adding ‘digital-only’ restaurants to its menu

    Chipotle's brand has always focused on the food. Digital-only restaurants are a great option for food operators that specialize in promoting food but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all fast-casual restaurants. Post-pandemic, there will be a demand for a fast-casual restaurant dine-in experience too, especially from parents that want a quick and affordable break with their kids, or young adults that want an affordable place to hang out late. McDonald's and IHOP are good examples of fast-casual restaurants that have incorporated the dine-in experience as part of their brand and should keep that option available post-pandemic too.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    Costco really needs to cut its long lines to be more competitive because Amazon is winning on convenience. Last week Forbes reported that 64 percent of American household (about 80 million) now have Prime membership. That's catching up to the number of members Costco has (about 88 million members) globally! One of the main reasons for Amazon's rise is the changing demographics. The 2015 US Census shows that 53 percent of Americans are single. With smaller and smaller family units, convenience matters more than buying cheap in bulk.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    Just as Amazon dabbled in the grocery industry with Amazon Fresh before coming offline, I think Amazon Wardrobe is a precursor to Amazon fashion stores down the road. There's something extra personal about fashion and food that means that the convenience of home delivery will not be able to completely eradicate the fun of going shopping.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Why haven’t customer surveys gone mobile?

    The retailers that are actively communicating with their shoppers via mobile are currently collecting feedback via mobile. Full disclosure: we make line-free mobile checkout applications for retailers. One of the most popular features for both shopper and retailer is the ability to leave instant feedback directly at the end of their trip. We see this as a trend that will continue to grow. The more retailers are comfortable with their mobile platforms and the more shoppers are using their smartphones to engage with the retailers, the more we will see shoppers using mobile to provide direct feedback.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2017

    Should retailers ditch five-star ratings?

    Similar to Pandora with music, Netflix is looking to solve a yes/no question -- "should we recommend more movies like this one?" so a binary rating makes perfect sense for them. Most retailers also want to know more complicated questions such as: "How did customers enjoy shopping at my store compared to their experience at a competitor's store?" Or "Is the shopper's experience at my store improving over time?" A scaled rating system (like the five-star rating system) is a much better way to answer those questions.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Is social media influence the new key to building brand loyalty?

    Remove the distraction of the social media aspect and the research will likely still find similar results. Personal recommendation from people we know (assuming we like and trust that person's recommendations) carries a lot more weight than a commercial advertisement (especially when people are paying to turn off ads nowadays). At the end of the day, it comes down to the core product -- is it cool, good, neat enough for people to notice, for people to buy and also for people to share/recommend. A lot of the time a marketing campaign (social media or not) takes off because the product is really desirable. The exact same promotion on another less-attractive product can generate completely different results.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2017

    What do know-it-all shoppers want?

    Shoppers want both convenience and service made available to them. The future of retail will be a hybrid of both technology and service solutions. Technology could speed up some of the repetitive tasks, such as information look up or checkout speed. The much more valuable human touch includes the unique ability for associates to interpret and adjust to different situations instantly (i.e., is the shopper in a rush and do not want to be bothered? Or is the shopper looking at a wall of items trying to decide which one is best and would like a recommendation?). For example, California Fresh Market grocery store in Pismo and San Luis Obispo have both the latest technology (line-free mobile checkout) and some of the best services (they trained associates to be product specialists -- wine and vitamin consultants) -- providing their customers the best of both worlds.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2017

    Why is the U.S. so bad at airport retailing?

    It's the experience of the entire airport, not just the shopping center. Many of the top international airports work hard to provide a nice customer experience. For example, Hong Kong International Airport had a "Smiles at the Airport" campaign that includes a "Best Smiling Customer Service" competition. It makes a difference. Every guest is welcomed like a potential customer, from check-in through security. As a result, people are a lot more likely to be in a happy shopping mood while waiting for their planes. In U.S. airports there's often a feeling that no one wants to be there. Customers and workers are all rushing to get in and out as quickly as possible to their actual destination -- not creating the best atmosphere for people to relax and want to spend extra money shopping. I bet even a small upgrade to the happiness and friendliness level of their staff would be enough to make a tangible difference in airport sales.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2017

    Will Google/Levi’s smart jacket finally make wearables fashionable?

    Wearable tech/fashion has been difficult to sustain beyond a temporary fad because it's not fashionable enough for those that care about fashion nor is it tech enough for those who love tech. Between the two groups, since tech is supposed to be the highlight of these new wearables, I'd pick the tech group to focus on first. It's much easier dressing up a technology to suit a wider market once the technology has been accepted than the other way around.

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