As bricks-and-mortar stores become free from the shackles of transactions. But what comes next?
The bricks-and-mortar experience is becoming better and smarter every day. We’ve seen many brands install digital kiosks, smart mirrors and digital screens. They marry the physical and digital in ways that enhance the customer journey. At the furthest reaches of store innovation, the Amazon Go concept is a beast. Machine learning, mobile app dependent and image recognition unlike ever seen before. Brands understand that technology can enhance the retail experience. Increasingly retailers are looking into ways to transform it even further.
More and more brands aim to bring theatre to the retail experience. This push for an elevated experience will become their greatest competitive advantage. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Brands have been slow to adopt the technology, seeing many solutions as gimmicks. Whilst others struggled with the cultural, structural and systematic hurdles technology can present. The champions agree that integrating technology is a balancing act. Yet one that differentiates between a thriving business and a vanishing one.
Irregardless of online and fulfilment propositions, the high-street still holds the monopoly. An estimated 82% of shopping takes place in person. It’s no wonder—choose any day on London’s Regent Street and the sights leave you in awe. Everything to do with shopping in person affects your senses and emotions. Many retailers like Next have formed partnerships with coffee shops and food halls. During the last few years, we’ve seen an increase of 11.7% spend on these establishments. We put it down to the intrinsic necessity of relieving hunger.
As a nation of time-pressed shoppers, we have a hunger that needs satisfying. Gaining our attention and holding us still is a feat not for the faint. Yet, we have a few solutions you may want to consider.
Retail experience hubs
Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen retail transformation happen right under our nose. Apple springs to mind. With their motto of ‘think different’, they have set the standard for all tech retail companies. You can learn, explore and immerse yourself in everything they do. Oh, and they sell products you can buy. Regardless of the façades’ architecture, the interior carries their minimalistic aesthetic. Apple is consistent across every channel.
A juxtaposed comparison, Selfridges on Oxford Street presents us with an alternative. It’s an emporium of wonderment and delight. Yet, their two main channels (online and in-store) carry a contrasting look and feel. Online is slick and minimalist, with the impression of accessibility for all. Whereas their bricks-and-mortar offering is sophisticated and thrusts an essence of wealth. With either example, both brands inject impetus to their retail experience.
It’s all about obtaining dwell time. But how do you increase dwell time? We’d love to say it’s easy yet, in reality, it’s not. For a start, the data you have for each customer helps. We’ve seen data used to create more personable experiences online for years. Still, to this date, many retailers fall short offering this in-store. The idea is to enhance your customers into super-users. Allow them to presented with the same options they would online, however with a twist. Simple things such as visibility on stock inventory goes a long way.
Gamification is another avenue worth exploring. Promotions and discounts sent to your customers to encourage repeat visits. This can be via notifications and proximity. Either way, earned or bought attraction allows you to deliver something value-added. Even product giveaways when customers have spent over a certain amount on collection works. Your task here is to increase their desire to be in your retail space.