Digital In-store Technology Boosts Traffic and Customer Experience
By Tom O'Reilly / December 2016Insights
In our hyper-connected world, shoppers are attaching to brands that offer ease, education and entertainment. Although retailers are addressing consumers’ demands for heightening omnichannel experiences, when shoppers are ready to buy, they still prefer to purchase in a store.
The Gartner Group says physical retail locations will remain the dominant revenue-generating channel for the foreseeable future. Despite the convenience of mobile devices for quick searches, online shopping is still less than 10 percent of revenues in most developed countries. People want to connect with brands, touch and try products before they purchase.
Forward-thinking retailers are investing in technologies to make the in-store experience fun, interactive, informative and easy. Babson College provides a list of digital technologies that enhance the store experience:
Tablets engage shoppers with impactful visual experiences. Retailers can use tablets to blend virtual and real worlds, giving shoppers the right size, correct color and best price.
For example, Acustom Apparel customizes clothing with the help of a 3-D body scanner. Digital measuring technologies allow the store to gather 200,000 data points and create a 3-D body model for use with proprietary algorithms to design custom clothing.
Hellman’s Mayonnaise can now suggest recipes to shoppers with the help of touchscreen tablet computers installed in grocery cards. Using the RFID (radio frequency identification) tags on products in the carts, Hellman’s can provide recipes with its namesake mayonnaise as a key ingredient.
With digital signage, such as video screens and kiosks, retailers can assist customers with in-store purchases, browse a variety of selections, as well as update product information and pricing.
Some retailers are connecting digital signage with content management systems to gamify the retail environment with loyalty rewards and “just in time” promotions, share content from screen to screen and create wish lists that can be sent to customers’ smart devices by text or email.
Interactive Hangers (IH) are activated when the hangers are picked up by a shopper. The IH triggers preprogrammed visual media to play on a nearby screen. IH also can be programmed to adjust the environment to enhance the shopping experience, including lighting, background, music, and other media around the store.
Augmented Reality (AR) provides a digitally enhanced view of the real world. AR can add layers of digital information on top of items in the world around us. It can also be used for watching videos, reading product reviews and placing online orders.
For example, an AR app for a furniture retailer allows users to see how a piece of furniture looks in their home before buying it. The AR viewer uses the live camera feed of a mobile device and projects a virtual representation of the object in real time on a tracking marker, allowing the user to view the virtual object from any angle. The application solves the age-old problem of picturing how furniture will fit in a room.
British retailer Topshop allowed customers to see a 360 degree view of its London Fashion Week show using virtual reality (VR) headsets to create an immersive experience and build brand loyalty.
Digital Personal Shopper
North Face stores will introduce IBM’s new personal shopper. This digital assistant device uses knowledge of the brand’s product database to make recommendations. For example, a shopper tells the device about a family camping trip that requires a tent suited for a specific state park. The technology takes into account the customer’s request, contextual information about the camping location and recommends the best tent and other equipment.
90-Second Skin Care Guide
Clinique counters are using software on Apple iPads to run a 90-second computer-guided skin care analysis. The diagnostic tool identifies consumers’ skin care concerns and processes more than 180,000 product combinations that match each consumer’s personal needs. At the end of the intuitive analysis, consumers receive a printout or email with a list of their personalized recommendations.
Holograms are 3-D models of retail products that can be used to instantly try on different colors or styles of clothing and accessories. Shoppers can see as many as 40 items realistically without physically trying them on. Holograms can be used in a virtual dressing room, showing what the clothes will look like when walking down the street or hitting a golf club. With advancing technology and falling costs, holograms will likely be used soon by retailers to personalize the shopping experience and create a virtual environment.
Smart Mobile Solutions
Walmart says its customers that use apps make twice as many shopping trips a month and spend 40 percent more than non-app users. One Walmart app guides shoppers via GPS directly to products in its large stores. Another innovation allows customers to skip checkout lines and scan and pay for items with their smart phones.
According to Pragma Consulting, 76 percent of consumers go to brick-and-mortar locations for care and support from sales reps. Smart retailers are giving shoppers a reason to come in-store and then using technology to extend the visits, provide education, enhance the customer experience, and ultimately make purchases.
Tom O’Reilly – President and CEO, Aptaris. Tom has a deep understanding of the retail business from both the store and vendor perspectives. He brings decades of hands-on experience in advertising and promotions including new media innovations. As an entrepreneur, he has transformed each organization he has worked with. Tom is a forward-thinking leader with a history of driving innovation, growth and profitability. As an avid reader, Tom is always enthusiastically sharing cutting-edge ideas with clients and colleagues.