Technology is one of the most transformative tools in the world currently. It has shown time and time again its ability to change how industry’s work to interact with their customers – and retail is no different. In recent years, technology has become renowned for the rise of the ecommerce stores, and the cultivation that is now online shopping. Technology may appear to be drawing customers away from retail stores, but digital innovation has meant that it is in fact improving the instore customer experience.
There are many cases where technology has been implemented into the retail experience, and has enhanced it greatly for both the customer and the business. One of these is digital signage, which incorporates digital screens into the stores to relay product information, interactive content and much more. Top skincare brand Dermalogica has become one of the latest to bring in this technology, using tech company Signagelive to deploy the service to four of their UK stores, including the Harvey Nichols branch in Knightsbridge. The system uses a centralised cloud platform1 to ensure all stores stay in sync, using the cloud to upload up to date information, pictures and content. Concealed sensors enable top-selling products to appear on displays when picked up by a customer, making the experience more interactive than ever before.
Another popular technology feature that has been widely accepted is the browse and order hubs. M&S and Debenhams are among those who have installed the instore hubs that allow customers access online catalogues to browse and explore product information. The smart screens enable the customer to also scan store products, and place orders for instore collection. M&S can be seen to be heavily investing in retail technology, and recently trialed a virtual rail in an Amsterdam branch; which is an advanced version of the browse and order hub. The experimental technology features a floor to head height screen is touch-enabled and one can swipe through the catalogue looking for outfit inspiration2.
Retail technology also includes mobile apps, in which companies are using the platform to create content specific to the store experience. Popular clothing brand, American Apparel, have used app technology to create an augmented reality instore experience, using point of sale moments to unlock a range of app options. The options include viewing product reviews, watching videos, and ordering online2, making the purchase process easier than ever before.
Technology is a rising trend within commercial stores, as each is set to benefit from technology – it is just working out which form will suit the store best. For instance, Tesco’s began using instore technology to improve customer experience. The supermarket successfully introduced there ‘scan as you shop’ feature, to speed up the dreaded check out time. Customers are required to use their clubcard details for this feature, encouraging customers to be loyal for the beneficial reward.
Consumers have accepted the digital elements as part of the normal shopping experience, and are starting to associates instore tech to successful and trust worthy brands. So not only will the tech help how a store operates, it’s building the brand image – making it a worthwhile investment for your business.