Online shopping and mobile apps are not necessarily a threat to the brick-and-mortar; instead, it’s the retailers themselves! Long gone are the days of inconvenient mobile apps, disconnected media experiences and over complicated e-commerce platforms. Thoughtful and relevant solutions have been developed to satisfy our digital cravings at all hours of the day no matter where we are. The key word is “relevant,” which is often improperly used when justifying the digital experiences retailers use to engage with their in-store customers.
We tend to assume digital displays and interactive apps are what shoppers want and are attracted to inside the store. To some degree that is true but what is forgotten is the practicality of those applications. Do they solve a problem and truthfully enhance the retail experience? Surprisingly a majority of retailers reluctantly ask those questions, which is ironic since they tend to meticulously craft and deliver meaningful on-line and mobile experiences.
The root cause for flawed digital engagement is a rush to jump on a trend or invest in a piece of technology that fictitiously solves a problem. We fall victim to misinterpreting articles of improved sales or enhanced experiences not realizing that behind the solution was a strategy. Even the best technology is flawed without a strategy behind it. Retailers have only recently begun to realize that what they have setout to create in the mobile domain has little or no impact on their physical environment because it simply solves a problem that is not relevant to the consumer when they are shopping in-store. The experiences we encounter need to make us feel connected to the space and help us experience the store in the same manner we do when we are mobile.
A visual experience with no logical connection is just clutter to the shopper. The best experiences are the ones that you naturally feel compelled to because they align with one of the following points:
- Helps point you in the right direction: Help guide the shopper or answer questions that make it easier for them to navigate the store. “A study by RSS revealed that only 12% of shoppers feel the in-store sales associate is an important touch-point in a purchasing decision. / Arch Point Consulting”
- BYOT: (Bring your own thing) Smart applications like fitting room mirrors or personalized selectors are examples of technology that allows the shopper to use existing objects (things) in the environment to initiate a digital engagement based on their likes.
- It’s about the Experience: Shoppers want to be entertained! They need to see the glitz and glamor of the product and want the show stopping media experience! “Only 3% of Millenials think advertising is boring, and 80% want brands to entertain them. / Advertising Age”
- Helps us in making an educated decision: A recent study by Google noted “Two in three shoppers who tried to find information within a store say they didn’t find what they needed, and 43% of them left frustrated.”
- Makes it personal: Establish a personal connection with the shopper that puts them in control of their in-store experience. “Shoppers want stores to provide experiences tailored just for them; 85% say they’d be more likely to shop in places that offer personalized offers in-store. / Thinkwithgoogle.com”
The retail store still is and will forever remain a key engagement point. A recent study by A.T. Kearney found that “Consumers of all ages still prefer physical stores to eCommerce shopping. Stores provide consumers with a sensory experience that allows them to touch and feel products.” When thinking about digital in-store engagement we have to understand it’s about one point…enhancing the enthusiasm on making a purchase. Don’t create a stopgap in that experience, why put something in the store that takes away from that moment? Kiosks, digital signage, and tablets are all secondary components of an experience that should be supported strategy and designed with relevance.