With the ever-changing technology landscape for the retail industry, have you ever stopped to think about how you can use this technology to create a better in-store experience for your customers? Some retailers wrongly assume that because so much of our everyday lives have become dependent upon technology, retail technology is slowly replacing the brick and mortar store. In fact, retailers can (and should) use digital platforms to enhance the in-store interactions with their customers.
During last week’s Coffee with CART, the discussion revolved around several articles highlighting the ways in which retailers are using technology to enhance the in-store experience. For example, Street Fight magazine explained how the designer denim company, True Religion, is providing their in-store customers with a more personalized shopping experience that involves the brand’s Apple Watch app. Associates working in the store are alerted on their Apple Watch when a member of the brand’s loyalty program have entered the store. The app pulls pictures of the customer from their social media profiles so the associate will be able to recognize the customer and greet them by their name as the walk through the store. This app will also provide the associate with all past interactions with the brand, both online and in-store.
In the article, the author makes an important distinction about how the technology affects the consumer’s behavior. Rather than speeding up the buying process, making it less personal, True Religion uses technology to slow down the customer so that they’re more engaged and more likely to purchase something.
Inc. also covered this idea with a profile of Westfield Malls as an “unexpected tech-foward commerce innovator.” The 57-year-old company is using interactive technology and shopper profiles to personalize the shopping experience for their customer. They are employing digital strategies within the walls of their shopping centers that have already been working in the online retail space. Westfield’s concept video illustrates what is now being piloted at several of their locations. The company uses data, along with a mobile connection, to tailor the experience within their mall to meet the needs of each individual shopper. Using this technology, they can help customers find a specific store, learn about new product lines, or search for deals.
When used correctly, this type of personalized technology can be used to create a more meaningful shopping experience, which will ideally lead to a more loyal shopper and advocate for your brand. Consumers have come to expect from brands a digital presence that coincides with their in-store shopping. However, the two sides have to work together with more than just a cohesive branding strategy. Technology will never be able to replace the tactile, personal experience of shopping in a physical store, and we shouldn’t expect it to.
In order to succeed in this new age of retail technology, brands must fully embrace and fully integrate technology into their overall in-store business strategy. It isn’t enough to create digital platforms and treat them as something separate from your store and products. Looking at technology as an enhancement to the customer’s experience will provide value to consumers and retailers alike.