Modern retail: Merging the digital and physical shopping experience

At Brown Bag Marketing, we think a lot about the customer experience. I hear this throughout our office on a daily basis. And as I think about how it relates to my everyday shopping, I’ve wondered how the world of digital technology has developed in recent years and can further integrate with the world of traditional in-store retail in order to enhance a customer’s shopping experience.

Since the onset of mobile development, consumers have been aggressively changing the way they shop. Participating in the mobile retail space not only helps a business accurately target consumers and drive sales, but it also grants the consumer with an on-hand, accessible channel of discovery. The increase in sales driven by mobile development has inspired brands to integrate advanced digital technology in-store in order to leverage themselves competitively and enhance the traditional consumer shopping experience.

Many brands are investing more in IoT, mostly in beacons and RFID tags, in order to benefit both the business and the consumer. Beacons are inexpensive pieces of hardware that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages directly to a customer’s smartphone.  By the end of 2018, 3.5 billion active beacons are expected to be installed in stores. This year, beacons alone are expected to drive $44 billion in retail sales. Not only do beacons keep consumers updated during their shopping experience, but they also allow brands to track consumer buying patterns.

With big data on consumer behavior, retailers can perform predictive analysis and accurately target consumers in order to drive sales. Location targeting and biometric technology allow big brands to use fingerprint scanning to integrate loyalty and reward programs with mobile payment in-store. In-store payments will increasingly become focused on mobile payment methods as mobile traffic in-store continues to grow and technical capabilities continue to improve.

Source: Syndeca

Omni-channel tactics focus on integrating multiple channels in the sales approach in order to provide the customer with an integrated, seamless shopping experience. I think Nordstrom’s does a great job here. Their “Scan + Shop” feature allows users to download the store’s catalog app to scan and shop items from the pages of the magazine. This user-centric, optimized experience allows users to easily travel through the buyer’s journey from discovery to purchase. Big brands are also using mirror technologies enabled by RFID tags to allow customers to virtually try on outfits in-store. iPads are placed in fitting rooms, allowing customers to ask for help, look up items, check what sizes are in stock, and read reviews.

Virtual reality is one the rise – especially in the retail space. Lowe’s Holoroom allows customers to envision a renovation project without ever knocking down a wall. The platform allows customers to use a tablet application to build their dream space with Lowe’s products and then come in store to use an Oculus Rift headset to view the results of their constructed space. Holoroom facilitates the buyer’s journey and reduces hesitation for consumers.

Source: ARNews

As technology advances, I’m curious to see how retailers will further adapt in order to enhance the shopping experience and maximize consumer satisfaction in every outlet. Have any of you or your friends actually used Lowe’s Holoroom? Or had an awesome omni-channel experience with Nordstrom? I’m looking at you, ACD of Content ;). We would love to know, and hear thoughts!