If the first step to retail success has historically been getting people in the door, the first step now is likely a digital one. The majority of customers start the buying journey by looking around online. A 2016 survey found 58 percent of shoppers who own smartphones visited a retailer’s website or app before making an in-store purchase, and 51 percent used a search engine. Shoppers might also interact with brands through digital signage, advertisements, or social media before they ever think about visiting a store.
Here’s the thing: The first step in the buying journey may be digital, but many retailers still want customers to step through the actual doors of their stores. Many brands have demonstrated innovative methods for making this happen with new retail technology that can provide better in-store experiences. Let’s take a look at what’s been working so far and what retailers who want to get involved can consider.
Retail Tech Experiences Make Shopping Engaging
In the age of digital shopping, customers are used to having what they want, when they want it. They also want to be wowed. Believe it or not, this opens up an opportunity for retailers to provide interesting, hands-on shopping experiences that make customers want to come inside the store — and keep coming back.
Take Tesla, for example. When the automaker opened a retail store in Toronto, it included an interactive display and design studio where customers could create their own customized vehicles and then see their creations on a video wall. This digital touch-screen technology gives customers an experience they couldn’t have at home online, and it enhances the experience of seeing a standard Tesla in real life.
The Lego Store has also taken advantage of video screens and is using them to create augmented reality experiences. When a shopper scans a box of Lego, a completed model they can hold and look at from different angles appears on a screen. This is a clear example of technology helping to sell a product by letting people experience the product in a new way.
Plenty of other technologies can bring people into the store, too, many of them related to efficiency. Amazon has been testing out a new type of convenience store called Amazon Go where customers can grab what they want and leave without ever waiting in line for a cashier or self-checkout station. Just scan an app when you enter the store, and Amazon tracks what you pick up using computer vision and sensors. Your Amazon account is charged when you leave.
Apple has done something similar, allowing customers to complete the buying process on their own using the Apple Store app on their devices. These types of simple payments eliminate friction from the buying process, an important part of keeping customers happy.
Success Will Be Omnichannel
What’s the most important thing for retailers to remember as they look for ways to improve in-store experiences with technology? The customer. Some technologies can feel gimmicky when a retailer doesn’t consider how that technology will help the customer. Ultimately, retail technology should enable a better, more convenient shopping experience that provides something customers couldn’t get without coming to the store.
As they implement new technologies, retailers should also remember that the buying journey isn’t just about the store or just about digital. It’s about both. That means technologies need to create a seamless omnichannel experience that keeps customers engaged.
To help retailers find new ways to make in-store experiences useful and memorable, Intel is providing retailers with inventory technology, AI, digital signage, point-of-sale technology, and more. Interested? Learn about how we’re helping transform retail to satisfy companies and customers.