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Engaging Customers at Store – THE DIGITAL ENABLERS

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Digital Kiosks – long advocated yet not fully leveraged, this concept has a lot of promise. It can act as a store assistant and guide, full catalogue display and even as a complete self-service platform. This is also a cool way to extend the online character of a retailer and enhance consumer experience. Marks & Spencer introduced digital kiosks in 2012 at the stores in Manchester & London. At their flagship Oxford Street store, M&S implemented Browse & Order Points wherein a customer accesses the entire inventory online and pays for items to be delivered at her home. M&S also plans to introduce “Style Online” kiosks that will provide information in the form of videos and reviews. Rebecca Minkoff is another retailer leveraging digital touch-screen kiosks to up consumer engagement. Tesco & John Lewis have kiosks that allow consumers to browse products and order items while in store.

BOPUS Enabling Systems – BOPUS (Buy Online Pick Up at Store) is the litmus test for true omni channel experience. This helps manage and maintain Customer Experience (CX) as the customer moves between channels. For BOPUS to work, a retailer needs an integrated POS and Order Management System that provides a single, global view of inventory. BOPUS also drives up store walk-ins. J C Penney saw shoppers spending 35% more than the initial online order once they came into the store to pick-up their stuff. At Kohl’s in May last year, shoppers added to their online basket when they came in to the store for the pick-up. BOPUS is a win-win for the retailer (more walk-ins, higher sales) and the consumer (lower shipping costs, faster checkout, assured inventory). The icing on the cake is when the consumer adds on to her online list and opts for home delivery – she walks out of the store empty-handed and burden free to explore retail further!

Use of Social Proof – This is the new “IN” thing! And FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) is the latest fear. This desire to be a part of other’s rewarding experience is paramount and is defying all retailing logic – so far! Nordstrom shows top-pinned items in store. This makes it easier for consumers to find items and serves as social proof. C&A Brazil introduced Facebook Likes in the real world – C&A provided a good example of how the real world and the online can converge to create a modern shopping experience. By displaying Facebook “likes” on small screens embedded in articles’ hangers, the retailers showed the increasing tally of “likes” that different items of clothing were receiving from Web users. The hope was that approval from the online community would encourage shoppers to purchase a particular item of clothing.

Reality – Augmented & Virtual & Artificial Intelligence – Discussed and talking shape for some time now, AR, VR & AI are the newest technologies that are bringing stores and merchandise to life – with the sole aim of maintaining a consumer’s digital experience continuum.. These 3 technologies are creating in stores, “retail theatre” that enables a very high degree of digital immersion. Tommy Hilfiger (in-store virtual reality catwalk experience), John Lewis (retail theatre) and Lowe’s (HoloRoom – home improvement design tool) are actively exploring VR. At The North Face, “item search” has been taken to completely different level through natural language processing in its Fluid Expert Personal Shopper Tool powered by IBM’s Watson cognitive computing technology. Burberry remodeled its Regent Street flagship to mimic the Burberry World Website. The result – nearly 100 screens and 500 speakers, digital add-ons like virtual rain showers, mirrors transforming into runways while consumers browse and store associates armed with iPads. Digital world brought to life in a physical space. http://pursuitist.com/inside-burberrys-london-flagship-store/

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