In-Store Retail Makes a Comeback Through Retail Technology
Hard-pressed to compete with the price, selection and convenience of online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores have been struggling for some time. But online retail isn’t a completely perfect experience either. For example, there’s no way to determine if a pair of pants will fit the way you want it to by viewing it on your computer or mobile device. And online returns — especially of large, bulky items — can be a major hassle.
Seeing an opportunity to offer a better experience in these situations, retailers are turning to retail technology to revolutionize the in-store shopping experience. By offering personalized and engaging experiences and the right content at the right time, retail is breathing life back into the traditional shopping experience — with a new twist.
Embracing Online Channels in Physical Stores
According to The Data and Marketing Association, 80 percent of millennials use their phone in-store, and 74 percent of millennials are willing to receive location-based mobile alerts. For physical retailers, this level of mobile engagement provides an opportunity to use retail technology to connect with shoppers on their devices. Using Bluetooth or beacon technology, retailers can target customers in real-time with relevant offers. For example, a customer standing in the cereal aisle at their local grocery store might receive a coupon for a specific brand of cereal, prompting them to make a purchase.
Sales associates can also use mobile technology to better connect with customers and personalize the experience. When a customer with the retailers’ mobile app enter a store, a sales associate can receive an alert, as well as data on the customer’s previous shopping history, helping the associate steer the customer to inventory that best fits their personal style.
Pushing Offline Shopping
Retailers have also begun to get creative with how to use online channels to create more in-store traffic. In fact, in a survey by Dimensional Research, 91 percent of consumers said they had gone into a store based on an online experience.
Retailers can drive this traffic by offering in-store coupons through online channels or embedding store locators on their websites that make it easy for customers to find their local store so they can physically touch or try on products before making a purchase.
Making In-Store Experiences More Exciting
Retail technology is also being used to entice customers to come to the store. Luxury brand Niemen Marcus has deployed smart mirrors in some of its locations for trying on clothing, sunglasses and cosmetics.
“At Neiman Marcus, we strive to enhance our customer experience,” explained Scott Emmons, Head of Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab in Retail IT. “The Sunglass Memory Mirror adds the wit and whimsy back to eyewear shopping. The ability to see how a frame looks from every angle and instantly share it with one’s social network reiterates Neiman Marcus’ objective to continually surprise and delight.”
As new technology such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning continues to emerge, there will be even further opportunities for retailers to enhance the traditional shopping experience. And that’s good news for shoppers and retailers.