Retail Experiences that turn Customers into Brand Ambassadors
One of the most hotly discussed concepts in retail nowadays is ‘online customer experience’, which is evident from the enormous amount of content on the internet on how to drive traffic to your website and retain customers. Active online shoppers have become accustomed to instant service, product recommendations and fast checkout, and expect these to be fundamental features of a shopping experience. All these are courtesy companies, like Amazon in the US and Asos in the UK, that have relentlessly driven innovation to improve customer experience.
But despite the onslaught of online commerce, the offline retail industry is not exactly out of the picture. There are customers who want to see and feel the product before they make the buying decision. To cater to this segment, brick-and-mortar stores are trying to offer the same level of excitement as online stores.Many such stores are ramping up strategies to target the right audience. In most cases, these revolve around elevating the customer experience by carefully considering the products, stores and shoppers. Some offline stores have already taken giant steps and deployed heavy tech artillery to ramp up their customer experience and keep their customers coming back for more.
Cut the queue, try automated checkouts
Computer vision, deep learning and sensor fusion technology have made automated checkout and payment for shopping trips to Walmart stores faster. Amazon calls this trio “Just Walk Out” technology and uses this concept at their Amazon Go stores where customers walk in with the Amazon Go app, shop for products and walk out without waiting in a line for checkout. The fashion industry has taken a bit longer to implement the self-checkout concept, but Zara introduced it in 2018 and proved it was a move worth investing in. The fast-fashion brand is known for its particularly long queues, and to solve this problem, it threw out the security tags in favour of self-checkouts.
Digital shelves replace paper tags
For shoppers who need more information about clothing or food items, digital shelf technology is here to save the day. Kroger uses the EDGE shelf technology to display pricing and nutritional information in their stores. Currently, this technology allows stores to remotely update their digital shelves, thereby saving employee working hours. The retail brand is working on improving this by integrating with shoppers’ smartphones so that no item on the shopping list is forgotten. Not only does it do away with the use of paper, but it also runs on renewable energy to offer illuminated pricing so that shop owners can turn their lighting down.
Convenience Shopping and Mobile Checkouts
In keeping with the theme of being fast-paced, Nike opened its flagship store – the NYC Nike House of Innovation 000, in New York City. Here, shoppers get access to customization studios and instant check-out points. The brand has also included the concept of Speed Shop where customers can reserve stock online, enter the store through a dedicated entrance, find the locker with their name on it, unlock it with their smartphone and make a mobile payment. No need to stand in a queue or speak to anyone throughout the whole shopping experience.
Frames Made Easy
Frame Styler introduced by Specsavers’ in 2018 has made the tiresome task of picking frames faster and easier. The in-store tablets select which glasses suit the face, gender, and age of the person. With the help of 3D, consumers can also try and compare various options.
According to Target, mobile wallet payments are four times faster than regular ones. The store launched its mobile wallet in 2017 where users can scan their purchases and pay. As a bonus, they also get instant access and notifications of discounts.
UK’s Ted Baker in 2017 launched a 360-degree shoppable video and its own sitcom ‘Keeping up with the Bakers’. The show was based on the life of the Baker family. With the help of Google Cardboard, people could explore hidden content in the film and buy what they liked. In addition to this, shoppers could place their hands on the window to trigger a camera to be a part of the show. This activity along with the contest run on social media handles encouraged people to visit the store at Regent Street.
Audi has introduced VR technology and has taken buying a car to the ultimate level. Consumers can configure the car of their dreams as they explore its interior and exterior with the help of virtual reality.
Innovation in China
Alibaba has not been sitting quietly on the side-lines. They introduced the first Hema store in 2016. In order to provide customers with the perfect shopping experience, they combined all the elements of online and offline shopping, which includes the option of scanning QR codes for more information. They have also introduced the Hema Mobile Payment and an impressive in-store dining experience. Through the mobile app, Hema customers can reserve a seat, order meals from the store. The order is prepped, cooked and served by robots.
All these innovations being introduced to in-store shopping are ushering in a fresh wave of exciting experiences.