Innovative Technology Enhances In-Store Experiences for Retailers
The retail sector is struggling, and Wall Street has been betting against it. According to CNN Money, investors are shorting 15.6 percent of the retail stocks they purchase. They’re buying them, immediately selling them back and repurchasing them at lower prices. Some major retailers have lost as much as 90 percent of their market value over the past two to five years. Others are rethinking their brick-and-mortar footprints as online competitors — and sometimes their own online selling efforts — eat into in-store sales.
Innovative technology that connects digital and in-store shopping elements into a symbiotic shopping experience are the key to retail’s future, ViSenze CEO Oliver Tan suggests in an article for Forbes. He says the in-store experience will never disappear; customers will always want the socialization, the immediacy of purchase and the tactile experience of shopping in a store.
“Investing in technologies that bridge the gap between the two channels enables retailers to maximize different opportunities in the customer journey and offer unparalleled service, selection and efficiency no matter where they start their journey,” Tan writes.
Innovative Technology Drives Retail Forward
Many retailers are exploring how to marry the in-store experience with the benefits of digital shopping using tools consumers already have, as well as new and innovative hardware.
For apparel retailers, smart mirrors provide one way to create a better in-store experience while bringing in elements of digital shopping. According to Bloomberg, Oak Labs created a smart mirror that reads product radio frequency tags the moment a customer brings products into the dressing room. The products appear on the side of the smart mirror along with recommendations, such as accessories that go with a shirt or pair of jeans. Customers can use the mirror to adjust lighting in the fitting room and summon a clerk, with one tap, if they need assistance.
Other stores are bringing the convenience of the online shopping cart into their stores. Walmart’s Scan & Go app allows customers to check out without going through a cash register line, Chain Store Age reports. Customers scan bar codes for their merchandise while they shop, using their mobile phones. The stores’ front ends are remodeled into what Walmart calls an “express bullpen area,” where they show their order bar code to an associate and bag their items before they leave.
Tapping Into Each Channel
Often, in-store associates view the e-commerce sides of their business as taking revenue from the store. However, both digital and brick-and-mortar can successfully function as two sides of the same coin.
Tan believes the future will be owned by retailers who combine the strengths of brick-and-mortar with e-commerce.
“It’s all about investing in technology that highlights the strengths of each and enables them to work together to the benefit of the bottom line,” he writes.