In: Operations, Tips

Physical retail remains at the heart of shopping with 85%-90% of the country’s $4.7 trillion in purchases still being made at brick-and-mortar locations. Technology and evolving consumer desires will continue to drive format changes and brands will continue to shift to accommodate smaller footprint layouts and become more experiential and showroom focused. Formats will continue to embrace and expand on the “buy online, pick up in store” trend and the power of personalization will help more robustly connect the in-home shopping experiences to serve as a more powerful driver to more efficient in-store traffic and conversions.

A Breakdown of the ingredients for success in retail: Immersive design plus superior consumer experience combined with unmatched access to selection and convenience. The breakout technologies that will drive this shift will continue to reshape the in-store experience as we currently know it.

Augmented Reality
In today’s experience driven, social sharing society, shoppers want to go to stores to discover and ultimately leave with a memorable, sharable moment. According to recent studies by Retail Perceptions: “77% of shoppers want to use augmented reality to see product differences such as a change in color or style.” With augment reality (AR), shoppers can see and virtually experience how complex products like appliances or electronics work and function and they can explore customization options while browsing, all of which stimulate a deeper level of engagement. These cases in AR are growing at rapid speeds and are enabling improved immersive and educational experiences. A standout company demonstrating the power of experience was Perfect Corp, a private company that utilizes augmented reality to allow consumers to virtually try on make-up (from eyelashes, to lipstick). In just three years since inception, the company has had over 400 million downloads, and has established relationships and driven engagement for hundreds of well-established brands including, Costco, and Sam’s Club.

Interactive Displays
Responsive digital signage, touchscreen dressing room mirrors, and smart shelves are all helping brands use floor space in more impactful and intelligent ways. On screen programming has more relevant and endless opportunities for content with retina readers and the ability to dynamically modify content displayed based on gender, age range, and calculated level of dwell times. Dressing rooms are getting a more elevated, hands-on approach with in-room touchscreens that allow customers to seamless browse for additional options while assessing fit real-time, and more powerfully connects the customer-store staff communication channel, proving to have an impactful lift to engagement and conversions. Companies like Perch Interactive unite physical products with digitally responsive content that engages shoppers on a deeper level and helps brands analyze their behavior, resulting in sales lifts between 20% and 80% with PERCH, according to CEO Jared Schiffman.

In-store Pick-Up/Same Day Delivery
Today’s shopper, cultivated in an on-demand enabled society, wants convenience more than ever from its brands. They want delivery and pick-up options, seamless checkout experiences and speed. To meet this growing demand, brands and retailers are investing in owning the last-mile fulfillment process as a way to deliver what customers want.
To power the shoppable showroom format, brands are partnering with companies like Postmates, connecting consumers with local couriers, and Deliv, a crowdsourced last mile logistics company, to enable same day delivery options for in-store shoppers. For the shopper on the go, brands like CVS and Sephora are partnering with companies like Curbside to enable seamless checkout and at the curb pick-up. And to satisfy consumers’ need for convenience and options, others are partnering with companies like Dropspot that lets consumers receive and pick up packages at conveniently based neighborhood merchant locations.

Artificial Intelligence
Every in-store technology integration touch point provides an opportunity for brands and retailers to learn more about shoppers. From improved eye scanning to video capture to more accurate image recognition, the integration of artificial intelligence is creating a new era of conversational commerce and personalization. A leader in intelligent commerce and marketing transformation continues to be IBM with its Watson platform, helping brands understand what customers may want before they even know they want it. Through contextualized data analysis they can not only deliver insights but Watson also helps make the data relevant to a shopper’s location and past browsing and buying patterns.

In-store data collection is empowering brands to understand the impact of visual stimuli, track engagement, and dwell times and make informed hypotheses. Store location intelligence is helping businesses optimize store performance with continuous data collection and analysis to unlock patterns and provide actionable insights to store associates and managers. It’s helping retailers identify changes that can be made to merchandising and staffing that enhance the customer’s in-store experience.