September's "Technology Is the Key to Engagement in the Next-Gen Store" report examines the state of store engagement and shares ways for retailers to keep customers satisfied, intrigued and loyal.
Next-Gen Store Engagement Step 1: Be sure all of your backend systems talk to each other. Are your e-commerce and store software platforms synced up? Today's shoppers want a seamless, integrated experience across every channel. Consumers expect store associates to be able to access their e-commerce purchase histories and other relevant data, especially as the store is "poised to become the epicenter of the retail brand experience."
Next-Gen Store Engagement Step 2: Take advantage of location-based services, and leverage them wisely. Create and push out relevant, compelling mobile marketing offers. A majority of women would love to receive a personalized offer on her smartphone while shopping in-store, according to Swirl Marketing. Explore the idea of using gamification to draw shoppers into your stores, associating your brand with an interesting, differentiated experience. The Millennial generation, inherently a social and game-oriented demographic, is particularly well suited to engagement of this kind.
Next-Gen Store Engagement Step 3: Stores no longer are simply places of commerce — they're places for shoppers to connect, discover, share and personalize their experiences. Digital signs, kiosks and augmented reality encourage customers to be interactive with the retail brand. QR codes that link to product videos and tutorials can help to increase conversion with a softer sell. Digital displays can grab attention and lure shoppers into your store when placed strategically at the front of store or in store windows. Interactive kiosks are especially useful in play-oriented children's retail and can aid in upselling on high-margin products.
Next-Gen Store Engagement Step 4: Sometimes shoppers don't want the elaborate in-store razzle dazzle — they just want to get in and out and on their way as quickly as possible. Satisfy these convenience-seekers by installing self-checkout lanes or launching a mobile self-checkout application. Find out just how customers would like to interact with your brand. For example, a Cisco survey discovered that more consumers would rather use a store kiosk than use their own smartphones for product research.
Next-Gen Store Engagement Step 5: Fashion retailers have a significant opportunity to elevate the in-store shopping experience. New technology can recommend the best brands for a customer's particular figure, and magic mirrors allow shoppers to try on one garment and see how it would look on them in other styles and colors. Other innovations enable shoppers to share the outfits they're trying on in the fitting room on their favorite social channels for instant yay or nay feedback from friends and family.
Retailers Taking the Lead
Nicole Miller deployed Capillary Technologies CRM platform to break down the silos between its e-commerce and store software, gaining a better view of customer data and enabling a more seamless experience across channels. Instead of rejecting customers trying to return an e-commerce purchase in-store, the brand can accommodate those instances. And because store associates now have improved access to e-commerce data, store staff can sell web products to in-store customers when inventory is unavailable in brick-and-mortar. What's more, boutiques in New York City now offer same-day delivery, helping to boost conversion rates and keep customers from leaving empty-handed and disappointed.
Timberland's push into leading-edge engagement blends marketing and gamification. The retailer sends location-based offers to opted-in users in and around its stores. The catch: the offers are time-sensitive and come complete with a ticking countdown clock. That sense of urgency can help to spur shoppers to action.
In Chicago the LEGO store leverages a large digital display in the store window to engage passersby, turning them into interactive video game-style LEGO's characters and encouraging consumers to convert from window shoppers to in-store browsers and buyers.
Build-A-Bear's high-tech bear-building kiosks provide endless entertainment for kids, help to drive higher purchase values and have driven foot traffic and sales up by 30% since their launch.
Always a leader, Walmart responded to customers' demand for convenience by expanding the number of self-checkout lanes from 1,200 to 10,000 this year and launched a mobile self-checkout application for Android smartphones and iPhones.
Bloomingdale's installed five of Me-Ality's sizing stations to offer targeted denim brand recommendations to shoppers based on their particular body shapes. Retailers using the technology have seen conversion rates jump by 47%.
For more information, download the full report here.