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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Reimagining the In-Store Experience


By Andy Wong, co-founder and VP of client services, Mobispoke

The rapid adoption of e-commerce in the digital age has fundamentally changed the way people shop. The online shopping experience today is not only richer and more engaging than in-store, but it is also personalized to each individual consumer, offering outfit pairings and special discounts based on a consumer’s profile.

Shoppers today, especially Millennials, have become accustomed to the engaging experience and convenience that is found online, creating new standards for the physical retail environment.

However, for many brands, the brick-and mortar store still presents a huge opportunity to engage with customers, if they are willing and able to adapt to meet the new expectations of today’s shoppers. Retailers must combine the benefits of e-commerce including, convenience, rich media and personalization abilities with the traditional benefits of a physical store, including human interaction and the ability to touch and feel a product.

So how can retailers best merge online and offline to reimagine the in-store experience?

In order to engage the modern Millennial shopper, there is an increasing need for retail innovation in-store that can personalize an individual shopper’s journey. In the era of smartphones and tablets, millennial shoppers expect to receive a personalized level of service based on their relationship with the brand, both online and in-store. By taking the information that customers offer regarding their shopping preferences and marrying it with technologies that can track presence awareness and product interaction, retailers can provide a wholly personalized in-store experience.

Here’s an example: by pulling from previous browsing and purchase history both online and in-store, retailers can make predictive recommendations based on the preferences of a given shopper that embody their personal tastes and preferences. Additionally, retailers can leverage sensor-based technologies to understand a customer’s product interests in-store combined with inferred demographics, broader purchasing analytics and merchandising data, which can allow retailers to personalize the experience in real-time even for new and anonymous customers.

In updating the physical store location, retailers need to bring the elements that attract shoppers online, such as recommendations and real-time inventory insights, to life in-store. Innovative brands can take advantage of rich media to recreate the online experience, and unlike the online experience, in-store retailers have full control of how product marketing and merchandising is delivered, the context in which it is received and how customers can interact. The current range of sensor-based technologies, such as RFID and beacons, allow retailers to deliver personalized content and experiences to customers passively rather than asking customers to initiate engagement.

By leveraging a combination of these product awareness technologies, retailers can now use traditional marketing and merchandising fixtures like mannequins or store windows to reach out to customers through their mobile app and deliver targeted product marketing content and real time in-store availability for the products they are viewing.

Additionally, technologies with product awareness capabilities such as RFID can be combined with screens to provide targeted product and brand merchandising content to customers based on the products they’re holding; this allows retailers to directly market to customers with the product in-hand.

As the popularity of e-commerce continues to grow, the attraction of a brick-and-mortar location has always been the element of human interaction and the ability to touch, feel and try a product in-person. Just as today’s connected customer has access to vast intelligence on their phone, retailers need to bring connected digital capabilities to their sales associates to ultimately enhance the quality of their in-person engagement with customers. Instant visibility into inventory is something that customers have become accustomed to online, and the connected consumer will expect the same in-store.

Digitally connected associates can not only instantly look up product availability for customers but retailers can also leverage digital to provide sales associates with intelligent product recommendations and product marketing to better inform and support a more valuable engagement with customers

By leveraging connected store platforms that connects customers to associates and fitting rooms digitally, retailers can enhance the traditional “trying on” experience by allowing customers to add products to a fitting room with their mobile device in-store and even add products that they’ve viewed online. This convenience allows customers and associates alike to focus on the products and service while another resource manages the process of finding additional sizes or colors and delivers them to the room.

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