What’s Ahead in High-Tech Retail Experiences


Don’t play a funeral march just yet. New research shows brick and mortar retail is far from dead. However, trends indicate stores are moving quickly towards high-tech retail experiences. A SessionM study of people who made a retail purchase in the past 90 days indicates an overwhelming 90% use smartphones in stores while shopping.

So how do you create a better experience that integrates high-tech retail with high touch? Six ideas:

1. Adopt Push Notifications
SessionM finds smartphones are used in-store to compare prices (54% of consumers), look up product information (48%) and check online reviews (42%). Also, more than half of respondents (57%) say they’re more likely to shop at a store if they receives messages/push notifications about relevant deals and coupons while shopping at that store. Takeaway: embrace high-tech retail shopping; it’s a “hands-on” mobile experience. Use beacons to share real-time specials, deals or promotions that boost shoppers’ in-store purchases.

2. Integrate Loyalty Programs
Nearly 77% of SessionM respondents indicate they’re more likely to shop at a retailer store with a loyalty program where they earn rewards. Takeaway: It’s obvious why retailers from CVS to Starbucks to Papa John’s offer special coupons and freebies for their most loyal customers. Beyond purchases, find additional ways to reward customers for brand loyalty. Award points for attending special in-store events or referring new customers.

3. Inspire Shoppers’ Confidence
In PwC’s annual consumer survey, 88% of US respondents say they research products online via their PC before buying in-store. So, even after online research, shoppers still purchase in-store—perhaps the reason is to experience the product firsthand. Takeaway: Create unique opportunities for customers to be hands-on with products. Something they can only experience in-store. Use one-on-one guided recommendations or kiosks to provide tailored expertise available only in the retail environment.

4. Enable Shop Ahead Experiences
Starbucks now sell customers coffee, food or a snack without waiting in line. From their mobile phone, app users place and pay for an order that’s waiting for them at a nearby café. Thanks to Mobile Order & Pay, Starbucks is now processing over 6 million mobile order and pay transactions per month. Takeaway: Make it easy for customers to shop ahead. Let customers who order online “skip the line” and pickup their merchandise at a special kiosk or counter. Offer additional loyalty rewards for those who shop ahead and pickup their purchase in-store.

5. Train Staff for Stellar Service
Person-to-person, in-store experience consistently ranks at the top of the issues customers feel are most important. Don’t forget, your staff is the first line in delivering stellar customer service. Takeaway: Besides how to check inventory or ring up a purchase, train and reward staff on hospitality and good service. Personalized customer service is a point of differentiation that helps brick and mortar shine vs. the less personal online world.

6. Integrate New Media
Popular beauty brand, Sephora, recently debuts the Sephora Beauty TIP Workshop (TIP is short for teach, inspire and play.) This in-store classroom is several interactive workstations equipped with USB ports, iPads and WiFi. Customers watch online make-up video tutorials and experiment with products available for purchase in-store. Following the workshops, customers are encouraged to share selfies of their experiences with the products, which are uploaded and displayed on the in-store digital Beauty Board. Takeaway: Besides investing in high tech retail technologies to enhance in-store experiences, integrate existing online content. Also use these high-tech retail experiences to generate new content. User-generated photos, videos or tutorials bring your products to life in a whole new way.

Engaging and serving customers seamlessly — both in-store and online — will define the future of retail. Learn more about other retail trends we’re predicting for 2016.

A leader in the retail sector for over 80 years, Sparks is redefining retail management to elevate shopper experiences. From shop-in-shops, point-of-purchase displays and prototypes, to flagship stores and freestanding structures, we design and produce innovative retail solutions that deliver real value and impact. Our core services: retail management, design, digital, engineering, domestic production, import production, installation, and logistics + warehousing enable us to deliver a quality custom product, on time, at a competitive price.

Check out retail experiences designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Angel Carra | Request as a Speaker

On the go, mother of two, who believes things happen for a reason. SVP of Sparks Retail focused on driving the best client and customer experience.