On August 24th and 25th, Globant hosted ‘The Future of Retail,’ the fifth and final hackathon in its series, Hack the Now & Next. This hackathon focused on retail, and encouraged hackers to develop creative technological solutions to some of the industry’s biggest problems.

The hackathon kicked off on Friday evening at Globant’s Seattle office. The 50 hackers in attendance began by sharing their ideas with the group, which ranged from ethically-sourced clothing enhanced by body scan technology; an Airbnb-like service for household items; augmented-reality-assisted personal shoppers; and coffee delivery by drones. This initial brainstorming session helped everyone divide themselves into teams, as hackers gravitated toward other participants with similar ideas. (The formation of strong teams and close relationships with other hackers is just one of many positive experiences to be had during a hackathon!)

Hackers then returned to the office on Saturday morning and got straight to work. Teams collaborated and created throughout the day before presenting their solutions to the judges that evening. Everyone was given the opportunity to explain how they’d go about building their products in a realistic environment, and why their ideas would improve the shopping experience for both consumers and retailers.

The winning team’s idea employed A/B testing in retailers’ brick and mortar stores. If A/B testing works well for websites, they wondered, why can’t it be applied to stores too? This technology could track, for example, the amount of time passersby stopped at and engaged with in-store displays so that retailers could refine and improve their merchandising.

But the winning idea, while fascinating, was not the most important takeaway from the weekend. On Friday night, hackers shared more than fifty ideas with the group, and provided open, honest feedback and encouragement to one another in an effort to narrow down and flesh out their solutions. They then spent Saturday working in close collaboration with one another, finding support and momentum in their newly-formed teams. Hackers, many of whom did not know one another before the event, were able to work through difficult issues to grow their solutions over a few short hours.

By the time the hackathon ended on Saturday evening, every team and every participant—and even the judges!—felt energized and inspired by the creative, innovative solutions developed that weekend. Retail is not the only industry in need of improvement, and everyone left feeling empowered to apply technological solutions to other industries and to other, more complex problems.

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