Dammit, I’m a Retailer, Not a Technologist

Magic mirrors. Beacons. Virtual reality. Endless aisles. These are just a few of the digital technologies available today to enhance in-store retail experiences. And more technologies, like artificial intelligence, are always on the way.

Today’s consumers expect brick-and-mortar stores to deliver integrated and useful digital experiences, requiring retailers to become technologists. According to Retail Customer Experience, almost 70 percent of shoppers expect self-help digital technology to be available in retail stories. nChannel adds that 84 percent of customers believe that retailers need to do more to integrate their online and offline channels to provide a consistent shopping experience.

Unfortunately, many brick-and-mortar stores are stuck in the past with their retail strategies. Part of the problem is that there are so many available technologies, and retailers are afraid to invest in the wrong ones. So how should retailers choose digital experiences for their stores? Which ones will be right for their customers?

We start with the people, not the tech.

Focusing on all of the latest technologies can get overwhelming very quickly. So at GLG, we don’t start thinking about digital retail experiences by looking at the available technology. Instead, we start with your customers.

We look at the customer journey in 360 degrees to find places where you can make the road from consideration to purchase less painful and more seamless. What your customers ultimately want from your brand will provide the basis for developing digital touch points that will add value to their purchasing experience.

Tech for Big Brands and Small Start-ups

Whether your business is large or small, choosing the right in-store digital experience follows the same process.

GLG works with a number of brands, both big and small. T-Mobile, as a bigger business, has a customer journey involving many channels and possible touch points. T-Mobile’s challenge was to find a way to simplify its customer journey. Customers had a lot of information and options for wireless coming their way, so we built a number of digital in-store experiences that would help customers sort through it all and determine quickly what mattered most to them.

We created omnichannel tools that checked cell phone coverage, side-by-side sales assistance tools that determined how much data a customer would need, and localized content in markets where English was not the primary language to show customers why they should prefer T-Mobile’s services. By focusing on how to make the purchase decision simpler, it was easy to see which in-store digital experiences made the most sense for T-Mobile.

The decision process is similar for smaller businesses. Small start-up brand SODO Apparel asked GLG to help create a successful store-in-a-store concept for placement into a major retailer’s store. Understanding that its customers want to see more merchandise than it is able to display in a small footprint within a larger retail store, SODO Apparel needed a way to display more products. GLG created an endless aisle interactive display that showed more of the available merchandise to customers and allowed them to conveniently check out via SMS.

We lean into trends.

Knowing your customers’ behaviors and affinities means you can scout out the trends in brand engagement that are most likely to resonate with their habits and preferences. Some of today’s top trends across retail segments include personalization, curated content, convenience, transparency, and localized experiences. We consider which of these trends best apply to your customers’ needs.

At the end of the day, you’re not just putting in a magic mirror that lets you swap out the colors of a dress through an interactive interface because that technology exists. Rather, you’re putting it in because you know that your customers are looking for the convenience offered by a magic mirror and because the digital experience fits in with your customer journey.

Getting Data from Your In-Store Tech

When you install a digital in-store experience, it’s just not a one-time boost for your engagement and sales. Rather, that installation becomes another way to collect valuable data about your customers’ needs and pain points that you can use to better tailor their experiences with your brand into the future.

Let’s return to the magic mirror. Wouldn’t it be huge to know that a dress that your customer tries on had been brought into the dressing room 20 times that week? Or that it had been swapped out for a different size 16 of those 20 times? Or that it was purchased only once? The ability to collect data in the physical space is another major reason to include digital experiences: it provides a data-driven competitive edge.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a retailer with a handful of stores or a retailer with a global presence, picking the right digital experiences for your stores is critical. It’s a great way to engage customers, drive sales, and gain never-before-accessible data about your customers’ in-store behaviors.

If you’re interested in including a digital in-store experience as part of your holiday retail plan, there’s still time. Feel free to reach out and keep the conversation going; I’d love to chat with you about your retail needs.

GLG

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