Category Archives: Industry News

In-Store Technologies are Changing the Way We Shop

cropped-Vodafone.jpg

In-store technology is changing the way we shop as both consumers and retailers are being impacted by advancing technology. These technologies are creating a more interactive shopping experience, giving retailers a greater opportunity to create a seamless online and offline experience for consumers.

There are countless examples of technologies that have tried to change the way consumers act and behave, some were successful while others not so much. In the next few articles we are going to explore some of these exciting technologies and going into detail to show how they are changing retail and the way we shop. In this article we are going to quickly look at four main technologies that are impacting and will further impact the way we shop;

  1. Touch Screens
  2. Augmented Reality
  3. Mobile Devices
  4. Beacons

Touch Screens

While this technology isn’t a recent development, it has been around for a number of years, it has recently begun to really change-up the retail environment with lot of exciting developments. This technology gives retailer the opportunity to develop an omni-channel solution and create a seamless online and offline experience for consumers.

A great example would be when Kate Spades & E-bay teamed up to seamlessly integrate physical and digital worlds. The pair managed to deliver a true multi-channel experience for their consumers; integrating window shopping, touchscreen and e-commerce. The process was very simple as consumers would look at products in the store window, purchase and have products delivered via e-commerce touchscreen. The result was very impressive and shows how technology gave an online retailer a presence on the high street.

Audi City is another great example of how touch screens can change the way we shop. Audi decided that they wanted to really improve the retail experience and consumer journey in their showrooms. Audi created an exciting and immersive shopping experience for their customers with amazing interactive touchscreens instead of endless rows of cars. The experience is very visual and interactive, allowing the customer to be part of the whole shopping journey as they customise their new car to their own taste using the touchscreens that surround the showroom. The interactive showroom had an immensely positive result for Audi and sales in their interactive showrooms have surpassed sales in the more traditional glass palaces.

Our own work with Vodafone has proved that touchscreen technology can enhance the sales process particularly where there is complexity in the purchase decision. Users can build their own mobile plans based on their usage and this has led to increased conversion rates on bill pay plans.

cropped-Vodafone.jpg

Mobile Devices

Smartphones and tablets are now commonplace for consumers and many of us cannot bear to imagine being without our precious smartphone. Retailers are realising the importance of mobile devices and are starting to take advantage of this technology to revolutionise the way we shop.

Some retailers are focusing on engaging younger consumers, who are the biggest users of mobile technology, and creating a seamless experience whether they are interacting with the retailer in-store or on their mobile device.

INTERIOR-1-f5f8451d-43ae-4469-a524-c018f22ae198Sneakerboy is a trendy Australian footwear company that has taken advantage of mobile devices and changed the way their consumers shop, combining e-commerce and brick & mortar stores to create a new retail environment. Customers try on in-store shoes and purchase their shoes on in-store iPads or on their own smartphone. The purchase is seamless and the shoes are delivered to their home within 2/3 days. The technology has turned a shoe store into a showroom that focuses on a seamless online and offline shopping experience, engaging younger consumers and ultimately increasing sales.

Augmented Reality

For those who are unfamiliar with Augmented Reality, it is a type of virtual reality that aims to duplicate the world’s environment in a computer.

It is a technology that has generated a lot of interest and excitement throughout the years, but more often than not deployments lacked usability and failed to really change the retail environment.

However, recent advances in this technology has vastly increased the potential of augmented reality, especially for retailers, and has sparked an increased interest in this technology.

An exciting example of how augmented reality can change the way we shop is the Virtual Style Pod. This is a virtual changing room that uses augmented reality to create stylish outfits and allows the user to share across social media. This was used in Dubai and created an interactive experience for consumers. It got a great response from consumers and I feel that we can expect to see more retailers attempting to use this interactive technology. However, I expect there is still a long journey ahead before retailers effectively scale this technology to change the way we shop. Features such as e-commerce & mobile integration and seamless transitions will have to be developed and improved before the technology really changes the retail environment and the way we shop.

Beacons

Beacons are another in-store technology that has generated quite a bit of hype recently. Beacons use Bluetooth low energy that can be picked up by more recent smartphones. This technology is growing in popularity with more than half of US retailers testing beacons in-store.

Beacons bring a new level of interaction between retailers and consumers. Retailers can give consumers relevant content based on where they are or what they are doing in-store.

Consider this shopping journey.

  • Beacons outside the store can urge consumers to come into the store with special offers and promotions.
  • Consumers are then given rewards for coming into the store and can set up a payment system  on their mobile device
  • Beacons then give personalised product information and location-based promotions while the consumer walks through the store.
  • When the consumer want to purchase a particular product they simply walk out of the store and the payment system that was already set up will handle the purchase

0491d8dThe US retailer, Macy’s, has begun to implement beacon technology to give consumers “more personalized department-level deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards.”

Consumers simply download the Shopkick app, which is available on iOs and android devices, to receive these personalised & location-based rewards and offers.

There are still many critics who believe that beacons are impractical and invasive but with the right strategy retailers may be able to interact with consumers on a whole new level. I expect many retailers will be reluctant to take up this new technology until consumers become more aware of it and understand how it works.

Digitising the Store: The Next Wave of Online and Offline Convergence

argos-digital-concept-stores-by-dalziel-and-pow-1386582764-1

The National Retail Federation, Demandware and the University of Arizona recently teamed up to publish, “Digitizing the Store, The Next Wave of Online and Offline Convergence” to look at the integration of POS and e-ccommerce technology and its impact on digitizing stores.

Technology has changed retail. No single channel or touchpoint can define the total customer experience, and consumers are constantly connected with technology. To meet these demands retailers must reinvent existing operational models and emerging from this is a single platform that provides seamless engagement and transactions throughout the customer journey.

Retailers are struggling to keep pace with the new connected consumer. They have previously developed solutions for specific channels and they need to rethink these solutions and their out-of-date operational models. Many retailers have multiple solutions, and traditional POS & e-commerce are seen as separate requirements. Retailers must evolve with the consumer and change the focus of retail stores from ‘driving sales of the product in-store’ to being a ‘brand and product showroom that drives revenues across all channels’.

Retailers are using e-commerce to create the single consumer platform.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 10.59.57 am

 

 

The single consumer platform is vital for the reinvention of the store. According to Demandware, 40% of retailers are considering a single consumer platform to manage interactions and transactions across channels. This will help create the seamless online and offline experience that consumers are demanding from retailers.

 

This table, created by Demandware, shows how a single consumer platform will benefit retailers.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 10.59.40 am

 

The single consumer platform allows for a digitised store that creates a seamless brand experience online & offline. Retailers are reinventing their stores and introducing in-store digital technology to help create a better shopping experience for consumers. According to Demandware, 80% of retailers surveyed expect to maintain or increase store technology investments over the next three years. Many retailers are focusing on updating their POS systems and integrating e-commerce to manage it in a single platform. We will see more integrated digital signage & touchscreen solutions that will all help create this seamless brand experience that consumers are demanding. In these digitised stores consumers can expect the same experience whether they are visiting the physical store, online store or using technology in-store.

We are going to see the re-invention of the store with digital media and the single platform at the centre of this change. Touchscreens, digital signage and other in-store digital media will create an exciting and immersive shopping experience for consumers, and it is retailers that incorporate these technologies into their offerings that will survive and thrive.

 

Clicks to Bricks: The Online Revolution

Online retailer, Kiddicare, has moved to the high street.

For the past few years high street retailers have flocked to the online world, trying to play catch up with online rivals who have been gaining market share year after year. However there has been a gradual change in retail evolution; online retailers are now moving to the high street. This evolution is called ‘clicks to bricks’ and is changing both the high street and retail industry.

Online retailing is thriving. People in their 20s and 30s do about a quarter of their shopping online. In 2012, American online sales increased by 16% to $225 billion. However, it seems unlikely that online retailing will ever completely replace bricks-and-mortar stores. The Economist reports that Britons are one of the keenest online shoppers, but still 65% of Britons prefer buying in-store. This is because online retailers lack one major offering; a tactile experience. Online retailers also have a lot of variable costs such as buying ads on Google, delivery costs and the fact that shoppers return a quarter or more of clothing they buy online. This tends to eat up their advantage over traditional retailers.

 

 A physical Apple store allows customers to really experience Apple products.

A physical store allows customers to really experience Apple products.

The idea is to give consumers the tactile experience they can’t get online. Customers can touch, taste and try on products that they like. It is much easier to appreciate an iPad’s crispness and responsiveness in a physical environment which is why Apple created brick and mortar stores that are beautifully designed, with helpful staff. Parents also like to get a feel for prams and buggies before they purchase. Online retailer, Kiddicare, have developed a brick and mortar store in which they developed the Walk in the Park indoor track for parents, allowing them to get a feel for the latest buggies. The majority of these physical stores are seamlessly connected to their online store, allowing customers to see products they like in-store and buy the product online.

Clicks to bricks use digital firepower to enhance the experience offered to customers. It allows online retailers to create interactive showrooms; improving service delivery, delivering personalised experience, enhancing brand experiences and creating customer loyalty. The digital firepower being used includes touchscreens, interactive kiosks, digital signage and tablets. The stores offer an experience that the shopper feels is worth the trip to the high street. The premium online fashion retailer Piperlime has opened a brick and mortar store which is merchandised like their online store. Interactive kiosks allow customers to buy a product if it is not available or not in their size. Piperlime believe that a permanent brick and mortar presence strengthens the relationship with customers, creating loyalty and generating extra sales.

Online retailers will benefit from a bricks-and-mortar store and The Economist has reported that a physical store will increase online sales in the area by up to 40%. Both the online and physical store benefits each other as customers look to buy online and pick up their goodies in-store. This is called multichannel shopping and is becoming increasingly important. Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president of ads and commerce, believes

Consumers no longer see a distinction between online and offline shopping. Whether it’s searching on a laptop, browsing main street shops or hanging out at the mall — it’s all shopping.

It is clear that the future of the high street is set to have more and more online retailers developing brick-and-mortar stores that offer a real-world experience of their online world. The retailer has to integrate both the physical world and the online world to create a seamless brand experience for the consumer. The experience offered to customers is vital to the success of clicks to bricks which is created through in-store digital media. The online retail industry is evolving and online retailers that are too slow to reinvent themselves will be left behind.