The role of the store is being reinvented to showcase, entertain and deliver a personalized experience through customer centricity and digital technology
The rise of the connected consumer and e-commerce is profoundly reshaping consumer expectations and behavior.
To remain relevant, retail and telecom are reinventing the role of their stores in the customer journey, turning them into entertaining shopping destinations.
New breeds of “flagship stores” and “stores of the future” have therefore emerged, making extensive use of digital technology to deliver unique brand experiences. Often articulated around lifestyle, they aim at reinventing the shopping experience by showcasing, entertaining and personalizing interactions.
Making shopping a seamless and entertaining experience
The new in-store experience is primarily designed to ease shopping by facilitating access to product information, purchase decision making and actual transaction.
“According to a recent Accenture study on seamless retail, stores clearly remain a critical aspect of the global shopping experience and in-store improvements are becoming especially important”.
Entertainment is central to making the store an attractive shopping destination. In today’s digital age, consumers can virtually procure any item online, or at least, search for it online. As a result, an increasing number of customers need a substantial incentive to actually visit the physical store. Stores are consequently giving up on some of their real estate space to cater for new areas dedicated to recreation and education. In-store coffee and kids corners are becoming common, as are demonstration and tutorial sections, often arranged through partnerships.
The new in-store experience aims at delighting customers in fresh and surprising ways. Through adopting customer-centric strategies, retailers are developing excellent understanding of their target customers’ needs and problems they face in their lives. Looking through the lens of the customer, rather than the producer, allows brands to offer solutions, rather than products. This helps retailers serve customers more efficiently and in a personal manner, which they facilitate in the store through digital technology.
The new opportunities behind the Connected Store
Digital technology plays a key role in delivering the new in-store experience. Product search and access to information are facilitated through the use of tablets, apps, web kiosks, interactive digital walls and free in-store wifi. The result is a “connected store” that bridges physical and digital worlds and constitutes a powerful platform to gather crucial information on customer behavior.
A connected store opens a brick & mortar retailer to numerous new opportunities which were previously mainly available to pure online players. This includes endless aisle, long tail, social media, home delivery and personalized interactions. In-store e-commerce kiosks can for instance make the entire product catalog available in the store (including drop-shipping – items purchased from a retailer but shipped directly from the manufacturer). The store can as a result focus on displaying high-turnaround SKUs and promoting customer services. Bringing the convenience of online shopping into the store in a compelling brand experience augmented with value-add services will highly contribute to building customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Retailers are increasingly integrating social media into the store, for instance through connected mirrors which allow customers to take pictures and videos and share the shopping experience with their friends. This is a truly great opportunity for brands at it represents free publicity and allows retailers to extend their market knowledge through listening to social feedback.
By developing big data and customer oriented marketing capabilities, even with a limited number of in-store connected touchpoints, brands can create a unique and personal shopping experience. Burberry recently launched a program called “Customer 360”, which allows sales people to access customer’s shopping preferences and past purchase history information on a tablet. As a result, sales associates can provide customers personalized in-store assistance, from greeting them by their names through to making purchase recommendations and placing online orders.
New telecom points of sale, designed to better inform and serve the customers
The “store of the future” trend extends beyond retail as telecom also started to deploy digital points of sale.
Verizon’s Smart Store allows visitors to get educated on what technology can bring them in their everyday lives. The point of sale embeds a “Get Fit” area, a gaming zone and a DJ corner. The sales area (in the back) is fully digitized and is more designed to inform customers than sell, which reinforces the educational role of this new store concept. Here too personalizing is offered to customers, through partner concessions. This allows Verizon to regularly offer new experiences and services, whilst at the same time generating additional revenue streams by monetizing its real estate and customer base.
Focus sur l’expérience interactive du pop-up store Adidas // Stan Smith – laminuteretail.com
Destination Retail: The Store As Interactive Playground – screenmediadaily.com
The Secrets of Seamless Retailing Success, Accenture research
Michael Franke Photography – Burberry Regent Street
Oliver Spindler – Burberry Clienteling App
John Lewis drops virtual mirror project as part of ‘fail fast at innovation’ strategy – computerweekly.com
The Luxury of Personalization – risnews.edgl.com