What does the research say? We hear this a lot from retailers, especially regarding digital in-store. What are other retailers doing? What’s successful? What’s not? We spend quite a bit of time researching these trends to stay up on what’s new in this space, especially concerning the things we aren’t seeing directly with our customers.
So what are some of the retail trends we’re seeing as they relate to digital in-store?
Enhanced Personalization: There has been a large uptick in the number of brands offering the ability to customize products. One of the most notable of these is Nike ID — start with a blank canvas and select all of the colors and different options to fit your personality. This type of personalization not only provides unique goods to customers, but a very unique in-store or online customer experience. Specific areas are often being created, with interactive and immersive environments all catered to customizing a product in real time. This type of activation creates a destination to draw customers into the store — where they may purchase other non-customized items.
The Death of Brick & Mortar: Plenty of headlines these days talk about the bad press in retail: store closures. Many of these make claims that brick-and-mortar stores are dead or dying. But this is far from true. Quite the opposite; we are seeing many online retail brands opening up physical store locations. Fabletics opened 12 new retail stores in 2017, bringing their count up to 30. Amazon is piloting tech-fueled grocery stores that require no waiting in line to pay. Even established players are investing more in physical stores. Target recently announced a $3 billion investment into brick-and-mortar locations. In many of these locations, technology-forward activations are being deployed and the locations are becoming much more of a retail destination — a place consumers go for entertainment as much as shopping.
Emerging Technologies: Many retailers are turning to new types of tech to help them create unique store experiences, help sell products, or to help improve their customer experience. Lowes is no stranger to using tech to improve the customer experience, running an entire innovation lab to feed and test ideas. Some of those include using AR to help customers see what items would like in their home, or providing a virtual measuring tape that uses your smartphone. Other brands are using Beacon technology to help communicate relevant messaging to customers via proximity to enrich the customer experience while browsing. Nike and Adidas both leverage tech to immerse customers into fun athletic experiences — like participating in a combine, or running through a park all while on a treadmill in front of a large videowall. This digital transformation empowers not just consumers but retailers as well.
Data Collection & CX: Maybe not the newest trend but still a very relevant one. Collecting data around the customer experience to provide a better means to change the story. Issues can be addressed earlier, pain points can be identified and remedied, and new experiences can be created. This new focus on the consumer experience comes at a time when retailers are blending physical and digital shopping channels to make it easier for consumers to make a purchase, and make it more interesting to shop with the brand. Much of the current customer journey intersects with some type of activation, brand experience, or other digital customer engagement within the store. This journey is full of multiple touchpoints to help capture new customers or retain existing ones.
These are just four of the trends we’ve been seeing in the retail industry, but they are four that are making a big impact on how brands interact with customers. There are bigger experiences being created at flagship stores, with more customized experiences making their way into physical stores from the web, and much more technology is being deployed to create these connected entertainment experiences. With all this emerging technology and functionality, the future of retail has never looked brighter.