Prism Blog

Retail for Millennials:
What to Expect

Millennials are taking retail by storm — and they’re just gearing up.

In the next five years Gen Y, the 18-34 year-old bracket, is expected to represent upwards of 30% of all retail sales. As the first truly tech generation starts families, buys homes, and takes the lead as the major consumer force, how will they shop?


Everything Apparel

Online or in-store, millennials love clothes. Women in the Gen Y age bracket spend a third more on apparel than their older or younger counterparts, while millennial men spend twice as much. So don’t worry — while some chains may go struggle to meet the demands of this generation, there’s still a market for the department store classics and it’s stronger than ever.

Keep Community in Mind

Gen Y is 74% more likely to buy a product if the proceeds go to charity. That’s significant in and of itself – but even more meaningful in context. Despite being nicknamed the “Great Recession Generation,” 63% of millennials donate to charity, and 81% expect companies to make a commitment to good corporate citizenship. Want your business to succeed? Tuning in to consumer ethics is a good bet to boost sales.

Go Back to the Source

If you want to catch and keep millennial attention, look to farmer’s markets, Kickstarter, and Etsy for inspiration. Key words: local, home-grown, hand-made, sustainable, and small business. Millennials not only want to donate to the community — they want to support it with their buying power. Retailers whose products feel personal will find it easier to succeed, while outsourcing may just lose its appeal.

Stores are Still Strong

Yep, that’s right. An incredible 82% of millennials prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. When it comes to department, discount, and drug retailers, that percentage climbs even higher. So though pundits may be crying wolf, don’t worry too much — the millennial market is there for retailers who know how to adapt to it.

The bottom line: Gen Y is spending, and brick-and-mortar isn’t going anywhere.


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Arctic air has struck the Northeast, bringing record cold to New York City. So it’s no surprise that layered, winter looks dominated the runway. Models showed off oversized neutral sweaters, sheer panels, and eye-catching neon hues at lavish events around New York City.

Here’s our top three trends from NYFW:


1. Athleisure

This fashion buzzword appropriately describes the combination of athletic clothing and loungewear. And the go-to clothing for both exercise and weekend wear can be seen all over NYFW. Grammy-winner Kanye West showcased his sneaker collection for Adidas on the 12 this week, and other artists, like Rihanna and Beyoncé are launching their own collections with PUMA and Topshop. 

Athleisure stores are popping up left and right, including Without Walls from Urban Outfitters and Lou & Grey, ANN Inc’s newest line.

2. Menswear

The men’s fashion market has outperformed womenswear for over five years, with no indication of slowing down. As consumer research firm Mintel reports “men in the 25 to 34 age group have become as fashion conscious as their younger counterparts.” Understandably, brands like Michael Kors, Coach and Jack Spade are allocating more resources to their menswear lines.

This year, The Council of Fashion Designers of America launched a standalone, biannual event for American men’s fashion. The showcase will include runway shows, presentations and special events from designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and Rag & Bone.

3. Technology

Wearable tech is making waves. From Apple Watch’s projected first year sales of 20 million units to Katy Perry’s partnership with CuteCircuit, it seems interactive fashion is everywhere. But wearables aren’t the only high-tech story this year. Collaborations and integrations with shopping apps like Spring and Cortexica are popping up all over the place.

Conveniently following NYFW, San Francisco will host Fashion Tech Week. “The Internet of Fashionable Things” will feature fashion, design, and technology brands, startups and thought leaders and run from February 23 to 27.


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Behind the Lens: Rohit Sethi, Senior Software Engineer

At Prism, everything we do is driven by our incredible team of engineers. Rohit and I sat down to chat about what he does and what drew him to Prism. I was impressed by what I learned.


Favorite Food:

Ethiopian or Mediterranean.

Favorite quote:

Life is like a camera: focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out take another shot.

What’s your role at Prism, and what do you work on?

I work on the research team here at Prism. My role is to come up with the next generation of the product and improve the current one by identifying and implementing methods for our customers to get more value out of the data we’re providing. A few of my past projects include traffic heatmaps (which are based on path data), optimizing edge architecture, and creating background models.

What are you working on right now?

Currently I’m working to expose analytics like occupancy, dwell, and group size so we can deliver more actionable data to store managers. Right now our app exposes activity and count data. When the features I’m currently engineering are out, new algorithms will run on top of our path data to determine area-specific traffic metrics for set time intervals.

What drew you to Prism?

I was actually exploring joining Apple to do computer vision on the mobile front — and then Prism wowed me with the fact that they were touching an industry that I hadn’t heard much in terms of technological advancements. Prism is empowering an industry that has been overlooked from the technological front. Additionally, the team is great — on the research side, Doug and Rob sold me on the opportunity to learn a lot. Plus, there’s a lot more freedom to contribute in a startup than a large organization.

What aspects of your job at Prism do you like best?

I love the hack days and that mentality of “what can you accomplish on a project of your choice, given the data you have.” That freedom percolates down to the day-to-day processes — that thinking outside the box. If you come up with a new approach, and it works better than the old one, it gets implemented. There’s also a lot of freedom to break big problems down into tasks and just jump in to what interests you.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I am a big fan of live music and San Francisco is an awesome place for that! Almost every weekend there’s something happening. I also love hiking with friends, biking on the weekends, and trying new restaurants — I’m definitely a foodie.

What’s your background outside of Prism Skylabs?

I got my MS in Computer Vision from Columbia and then worked at Apple on the iPhone 4 camera. They used to have an intricate, time- and resource-expensive system for quality checking every camera device that goes out — we’re talking millions of cameras — and I created the tool that allows that quality check to run directly on the camera. I then worked at Nvidia, pushed the move to quad core on mobile, and worked on the vision components for driverless cars — speed detection, lane detection, and sign recognition. And now I’ve found my place at Prism!

We’re happy to have amazing talent like Rohit on the Prism team, and excited to keep the momentum going. Want to develop with us? We’re hiring!


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Super Bowl Spend Day

The biggest football game of the year is about to go down in three days.

Party invites, game day bar specials, and football-shaped hors d’oeuvres recipes are flooding inboxes and Facebook feeds. With 184 million Americans expected to tune into Super Bowl XLIX, advertisers are planning to grab hold of a captivated audience — and retailers are looking to grab hold of wallets.


Consumers are expected to spend a record $14.31 billion on this year’s big day, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation

This spike in spend has increased by over 65% over the last eight years. Some retailers are even considering the day of celebration a continuation of holiday spending.

So where is the money going?

The bulk of it is going toward food. The National Chicken Council predicts Americans will eat 1.25 billion chicken wings this Sunday. And with guacamole on most people’s Super Bowl menu, the Hass Avocado Board believes around 240 million avocados will be consumed this weekend. 

To prepare for customers’ needs, supermarkets are stocking up early. Beer will undoubtedly be in high demand. The time and energy dedicated to Super Bowl grocery beer displays have taken them to new heights.

There are also those fans that are looking to watch the game on a new TV. A perfect time for retailers to move old inventory off the shelves before new models arrive in the Spring.

Come Sunday, Feb. 1?

Big Game. Big Spendings.

And as for me: Go Hawks!


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Engineering @ Prism: January Hackathon

Every now and then it’s good to take a break from the day-to-day of building a business and stretch your creative muscles. That’s why Prism does a quarterly HackDay — a chance for each of our engineers to put down their regular work and try out an experimental project for the company. From building Raspberry Pi cameras from scratch to adding location-based weather info for our end-user accounts, every HackDay has introduced new cool tech to the Prism vision. 

rohit sehti presents at Prism's hackday

This time around, we had several great projects showcased:

Sharing Timelapses

Ann Paul (Front-end team) built a great way to share timelapses of our imagery, making it easy to export Prism insights from the app.

Re-purposed Routers

Doug Johnston (Research team) engineered a NAS router to work more like a computer and got our software to run directly on it.

In-App Gifs

Riley Tomasek (Front-end team) created a tool for creating GIFs of our analytics and store snapshots in-app.

Anomaly Detection

Rob Cosgriff (Research team) experimented with a Twitter R package for detecting outliers in our entry count and activity data.

Automating Time Detection

Rohit Sehti (Research team) built a tool for data collection that automatically detects when stores are open or closed, and created timelapses that highlight heatmaps and pathmaps over the course of a week.

Video Compression

David Low (Edge team) investigated VP8 and VP9 video compression formats as alternatives to H.264 — we’re always looking for new ways to improve our image quality and streaming!

All projects were completed in a single day. It was a great first hackathon of the year, and we’re looking forward to even more cool projects next time. Thanks to all the engineers who participated!


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Prism’s New Analytics Lead to More Insights

We’re excited to announce a suite of new analytics to help retailers better understand how customers experience their stores. We’re offering new dashboards, reports, and visualizations to empower retailers and our partners with the insights they need to fully understand the customer journey, and optimize every store across their enterprise.

Prism 2.5 AOI Lolli and Pops

Understanding the Customer Journey

With this release, we’re enabling retailers to A/B test their stores in real time and run on-demand studies of the customer journey. As part of that, we’re launching upgraded pathmaps that highlight customer movement in any area, and surface new metrics around customer flow rate, group size, occupancy, and dwell time.

Prism 2.5 Traffic Pathmap L&P

Optimizing Performance Across Every Store

It’s always been our goal to drive awareness and provide insight throughout the organization. Everyone from the CEO to the store manager benefits from having a better understanding of how customers experience their brand. To that end, we’re launching new dashboards that make it easier for regional and store managers to improve operations, and an upgraded reporting engine that allows executives and business analysts to assess enterprise-wide store performance, customer trends, and the effectiveness of merchandising and marketing campaigns.

Sites Dashboard 2

Scale Simply and In Minutes

As part of this release, we’re launching Prism Pulse, through which we can calibrate our analytics across thousands of stores with the push of a button. Pulse is a breakthrough deep learning technology that enables immediate setup and calibration of analytics, and continuous tuning post deployment. Scaling 1,000 and 10,000-plus site deployments is a big focus for us in 2015, and this tool will help make that possible.

We’re looking forward to a great 2015.


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Behind the Lens: Ann Paul, Software Engineer

We’re kicking off 2015 by welcoming some new engineers to our team! I sat down with Ann, one of our all-star software developers, to chat about why she loves working at Prism.

ann paul prism engineer

Favorite Food:

I love food and have enjoyed almost every different cuisine I’ve tried. But my best food experience was in South America — Brazilian Churrasco!

Favorite Quote:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot

What’s your role at Prism, and what do you work on?

I work as an engineer on the cloud team. We focus on building out different features for the Prism web application and adding functionality to internal tools that help support and scale Prism as we continue to grow.

What are your current projects?

Currently I’m working on an internal monitoring tool to health check different aspects of our software — when it’s deploying and after. The tool also delivers system alerts for configuration and performance issues. I’m also working on incorporating hours of operations into our app’s analytics and interface for individual stores, which will help provide more robust insights for our customers.

What drew you to Prism?

The product speaks for itself. That alone definitely sparked my interest — it showcases the innovative ideas driving what we do. Working in a company backed by such good vision and strong leadership is great.

What aspects of your job at Prism do you like best?

I really enjoy working in an environment where I can be challenged and simultaneously mentored. I love working with such a smart and dedicated group of people.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love traveling, hiking, and generally just exploring new places! I’m relatively new to California, and I love how much there is to do and see. For instance, this past weekend I went with a few friends to check out the scenery from Grand View Park. You can see the Pacific Ocean, all of SF, the Golden Gate Bridge, all the neighboring islands — it was beautiful! I definitely recommend it.

Prism’s office location in the heart of SF is just one of the things that makes working here fun. If our vision catches your eye, be sure to check out our open careers!


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Prism at the Big Show

Retail Big Show Prism 2015 nrf

The retail event of the year is here again!

Start off 2015 by visiting Prism in Booth #2675 at the Big Show. If you’re interested in retail analytics, visual merchandising, or simply better managing your brick-and-mortar business, we’ll be there to show you how. You can also find us in Axis Communications booth #3133, or shoot us a note and we can set up a time to chat. 

The 2015 Big Show promises to showcase a great group of retailers and retail technology. We’re especially excited about:

1. Exhibitor BIG !dea — Internet of Everything: New Horizons in Retail

Thought leaders from Cisco will examine how the next generation of retail technologies (like Prism!) will deliver brand new analytics and in-store insights. 

2. Brick is the New Black: Reinventing the Brick-and-Mortar Experience

The movement to improve physical stores’ competitive stance against online retail is looking more and more like an overall offline transformation. Executives from Levi’s, Walmart, and more will examine how brick-and-mortar is being repositioned at the center of the customer experience.

3. The Changing World of Luxury Retailing

Luxury brands often serve as trendsetters — not only for their customers, but for their industry. This sessions takes a look at where luxury retail is thriving, where it’s adapting, and what new changes mean in the long run. 

And of course, even more than the presentations, we’re looking forward to seeing you there!


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