In our previous blog post, we spoke about the digital disruption of the path-to-purchase journey and how technology is affecting the way in which retailers operate, allowing customers to interact online, in-store, in-app, on-phone, in the cloud and via social media.
However, the surprising fact is that in spite of the omni-channel retail experience being the strategic focus for many retailers, a large percentage of shoppers – particularly women and millennials still want an in-store experience. This is because women view shopping as a leisure activity for the purpose of entertainment and fulfillment besides need and utility, while millennial consumers want a touch-and-feel experience while they shop along with an equal affinity towards digital. EKN data shows that 75% millennials shop online and two-thirds shop in-store at least once per month.
This shows that both digital and in-store affinity is prevalent among millennials. EKN’s Framework for Omni-channel Personalization data shows that 86 percent of consumers will pay up to 25 percent more for a better customer experience. But are retailers adopting the right measures to enrich the shopping experience for customers? Fortunately, the amalgamation of retail and technology has been an effective and positive one, and retailers are integrating innovative digital experiences at their physical outlets with the presence of digitized kiosks, touch screen navigation panels, interactive digital displays and other digital tools to ensure an engaging in-store experience. According to a survey carried out by Samsung, 94 percent of retailers believe the customer of the future will be driven by technology and 41 percent are already using it to implement a strategy to enhance the customer experience to create a strong impact on them and make the shopping experience unique and memorable.
For example, brands like Topshop and Charlotte Tilbury are using augmented reality technology to create virtual dressing rooms and ‘magic mirrors’ that let customers try out makeup without actually applying it. A notable mention here is Rebecca Minkoff’s digital store experience which starts with the “connected wall” which lets shoppers browse social media content, watch runways shows, order a complimentary beverage, or swipe through pictures of products in store. The shopper’s digital experience continues when they enter the “smart changing room” equipped with RFID technology through which each item brought into the room is “scanned” and listed on the smart mirror (similar in design to the connected wall). Using these smart mirrors, customers can browse styling suggestions, contact a sales associate and even change the lighting in the dressing room. The sales results of Rebecca Minkoff’s connected stores prove that value is being delivered to the customers as sales have tripled from what was expected. Customers actively used the interactive mirrors, and on average 30% of customers requested an additional item via the fitting room mirror. The data collected by the RFID technology also boosts Rebecca Minkoff’s sales since every item brought into the fitting room is tracked and headquarters can assess products which are tried on but not bought, which pieces are styled together, and which ones never make it to the fitting room.
A rising technology which is revolutionizing the customer retail experience is the use of beacons by US and Europe based retailers like Target, Macy’s and Mc Donald’s. These beacons use Bluetooth low energy to track customers nearby and send them relevant messages/notifications on their smartphones via apps. These messages can range from a simple welcome message to suggestions based on their past shopping to recommendations of new products in store or a discount coupon for their shopping. EKN’s research on Omni-channel Personalization shows that 78% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers if a retailer provides them targeted and personalized offers and beacon technology aids retailers to do exactly so. Known as proximity marketing, the revenue from location-based services is expected to reach $43.3 billion by 2019, according to a recent report published by Juniper Research.
Another notable example of digital innovation in retail is the first ‘Supermarket of the Future’ by Coop – Italy’s largest supermarket chain. This supermarket opened its doors in December 2016 in Milan. Products are kept on large interactive tables which show the customer augmented information about the product with the simple movement of the hand. Customers can see all the necessary information about a product such as its origins, nutritional facts, allergen information, correlated products and promotions. This seamless shopping experience is beneficial for shoppers as they can find and choose the right products while saving time. It is also beneficial for Coop, as it helps them to analyze data about product sales, customer information and insights and facilitates customer retention and loyalty.
Thus, as technology advances, it is evident that retailers are embracing the digital movement and are adopting new innovations in both online and offline stores to create a rich and unforgettable shopping experience for their customers.