technology and the retail experience

235448461_640Technology has changed daily life in a drastic manner. Our lifestyles and our communication methods have changed. The way we read books has also changed. Everything and everyone has gone “virtual”.

All the latest and greatest digital innovations are now bridging the gap between our online and offline lives. Consumer experiences can now be personally tailored to fit individual interests. User experiences are socially integrated with major social networks and consumer interaction is at an all-time high.

Experiential Retail Offers Consumers a View of a Company’s Inner Workings

Krispy Kreme stumbled on a concept that is now becoming available to nearly every industry on an even greater scale. After cutting a hole into their wall in order to sell donuts directly to customers, the company discovered that increased consumer interaction led to increased engagement. This tactic attracted attention and garnered more sales for the company. Krispy Kreme mastered this strategy in the 1930s. Now companies such as Adidas are taking things a step further by offering personalization to consumers. Now consumers can customize shoes to fit their own style and taste. The product is created before their eyes and the customer is engaged at a greater level.

Self Service Options Streamline the Buying Process for Consumers and Retail Organizations

Self-service options aren’t new. In fact, in the US grocery stores and gas stations have pioneered the process. Now with touch screens and smartphones, this movement is gaining momentum as it hits most retail environments. Self-service options are available at coffee shops, boarding passes, and automated checkout. Shoppers are gaining more control of their shopping experience. Self-service options may not be a great fit for every retail environment, but the driving principles of improving or simplifying service that exists behind the movement are easily translated.

Mobile Technology: Convenient and Flexible Shopping Options Anytime, Anywhere

Mobile technology continues to reshape the retail landscape as shoppers seek refuge in the convenience and flexibility that these devices offer. According to recent surveys conducted by IAB, at least 72% of mobile device owners use their devices for browsing or making purchases online. These same customers admitted to making purchases while waiting for appointments, watching TV, and working. This figure is astounding, considering that not all retailers maintain an active mobile presence.

Augmented Reality: Retail Realties Redefined to Fit Consumer Needs

Augmented reality technology involves computer-generated views that are superimposed on the real-world environment. This technology is extremely useful for beauty and fashion. Large ticket purchases can benefit from this technology as well. Now consumers can see if an item suits them or their living environments before risking their hard-earned capital on the purchase. Retailers can benefit from this technology as it inspires purchases and assists in eliminating buyer’s remorse.

Social Shopping Grows Exponentially as Multichannel Retailers Embrace its Momentum

Social shopping has become so popular; the phrase can now be considered a buzzword. This isn’t surprising. The general public continues to engage brands on social media networks with likes and retweets. The social media mega site Facebook generates at least three billion of these “likes” each day. The wonderful thing about this type of word of mouth advertising is that 90% of connected consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know. Retailers shouldn’t overlook the potential for brand evangelism via social media networks. The big name brands are already capitalizing on this strategy.

Technological trends are rapidly evolving. There is no doubt that these trends will soon permeate daily life. 3D storefront displays are already in use. (Ralph Lauren went a step further and utilized a 4D display in 2010.) Soon, consumers will be able use virtual mirrors to see what different types of makeup will look like without having to apply it to their face—these technological trends are sure to be popping up in a mall near you if you haven’t encountered one already.

randy bowden

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