Consumers are so used to encountering digital devices and experiences in their daily lives that they are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to retail – to such an extent that Fast Coexist is calling these digital services that customers are clamouring for in brick-and-mortar stores ‘platform agnostics’. That’s why more and more brands are creating innovative channels between their online and offline worlds. And their customers love it.
In Europe, more than 60% of consumers use their mobile phone or tablet while in a store to compare prices online, take photos, or find out more about a product. ‘Smart shopping’ tools are booming.
The mobile app Iconomeme, for instance, lets users check the availability and location of items in the store, and also gives them the option of buying these items online. The app uses beacon technology, which picks up signals from tiny low-power, wireless transmitters that are distributed across the store. The aim: to save consumers time and give them more empowerment.
“Immersion to ensure deeper engagement with the products and brand”
So, what does the future hold? More sales assistants? Quite the opposite. Burberry, for example, has given its staff tablet apps capable of showing a customer’s purchase history through a virtual fitting room that reveals their preferred sizes and shopping environment. For this luxury brand, digital technology has enhanced service quality.
Yet, as John Vary, Innovation Manager at retailer John Lewis, explains, this is not just a passing fashion or gadget craze:
“Everything we are doing is driven by a desire to create not a series of shopping experiences but a seamless shopping journey. It’s all about humanizing technology in the physical retail space to make the retail experience more interactive and playful. But the ultimate goal is immersion to build deeper engagement with John Lewis’s products and brand”.
This ambition recalls that of Bayard Winthrop, CEO of online clothing company American Giant and author of the book I F**King Love That Company. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he insists that retail is changing in line with consumers, who now want brands to invest in equipment that gives them a better shopping experience. This high level of engagement is what companies must achieve if they want to create a special relationship with their customers and make them ‘fall in love’.
So, Cupid, get your tablets ready!