Shopping is not merely spending money on things at a store anymore, it’s an experience. Customers now don’t just want to shop; they want to live the experience. Retailers have taken the technological advances and applied them in crafting a journey for their customers. Retail therapy’s new sensational addition is experiential retail.

Touch and feel stores like Google’s pop-up is an example of experiential retail. So is the newly opened American Eagle store, complete with a free laundry, bar, iPads in the trial rooms, this store is a perfect example of experiential retail. Stores like these are mixing entertainment with retail and making it an experience to be enjoyed. Other forms of experiential retail involve:

table 25 Key Technologies to Watch Out For in 2018

Mixed Reality: Reality gets a bit more interesting with the right blend of augmented and virtual features. Retailers are able to give real time experiences to customers without them even walking into the store. Thanks to increasing usage of IoT devices, apps are allowing people to virtually try on clothes or furniture in their homes. Mixed reality is providing a platform for customer engagement in a never seen before way adding convenience and entertainment to retail. With virtual trial rooms, make up testers, store navigations mixed reality is easing its way into mainstream retail.

Examples:

  • Nike’s experiential store has a video wall of social media updates related to their products, the store also has customer terminals connected to ERP catalogue to ensure product availability in real time. Their mobile connect feature helps customers get relevant content in the store via the app. Customers can customize their selected products and check out from the digital kiosks.
Demodern
Ref: Demodern

 

  • Fashion retailer American Apparel uses their app to provide AR experience to their customers. Customers can scan a product in store and see the different color variants for that product in the app.

vuforia

Ref: vuforia

 

  • Fashion retailer Gap uses AR to show their customers what the selected clothing item looks on a model of the same body type as the customer.
Ref: GAP (www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4089338/Gap-reveals-new-app-lets-virtually-try-clothes-home.html)

 

 

  • IKEA app helps customers visualize furniture at their home. The app also resizes the projected object according to the size of the room to give a more realistic view of how it would look in real life. Apps like these help customers make the deliberation stage shorter and enable quicker decisions.

designtaxi

Ref: Designtaxi

 

AI(Artificial intelligence):

They solve our basic problems, can offer personal assistance and they are fast growing. Artificial intelligence, mostly in the form of chatbots continues to grow in popularity. It saves the queue for the customers, saves the cost for retailers and makes personalization easy. They collect information from customers and show products based on their specific needs just like any store associate. It is another good channel for collecting customer data and later to use them for marketing products. Nike on demand, an AI initiative by the brand helped runners stay motivated and meet their goals. The retailer leveraged their repository of athlete data to develop a customized performance partner app. The app provided reminders, run routes, customized nutrition advice, training plans and motivation to achieve goals to the athlete users. Dior also introduced its Facebook messenger chatbot to help customers identify products they wanted.

 

Advanced Analytics:

From understanding who your customer is to what they are thinking about you, data analytics brings you all the answers. Customers are hungry to get personalized experiences from the retailers they are loyal to. The whole point of being loyal to a brand is because they understand and recognize the needs better. Advanced Analytics paves the path for systematic approach to personalization. Amazon tracks their user’s activities and shows them offers, products and brands that they are most likely to buy. Retail giants like Macy’s and Target use sentiment analytics to understand how they are faring with customers. PRIOS, a phygital retail solution by Aspire leverages big data to create 360 degree profiles of customers which helps store associates to provide personalized recommendations. So, when a customer walks into your store the store associates would know their history and pattern of shopping and would be able to suggest products based on that information, increasing chances of purchase. PRIOS as an app also provides in store navigation, self-check outs and mobile payment options.

 

Location based technology:

Location based tracking has been around for some time now and technologies like beacons, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have become household technologies. Thanks to IoT, technologies like geo fencing are gaining popularity faster with Starbucks and Uber using it to send push notifications to customers within the vicinity. According to a recently published report, the number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019. Another report suggests that in 2021, consumers in America are projected to spend over 35 billion U.S. dollars on mobile apps via app stores. With the growing use of smartphones and retailer based apps, location based technologies is going to become an amenity for a retailer to market. This will propel retailers to come up with apps to cater to their customers’ various needs.

 

Drones for delivery:

Free and fast delivery is one huge differentiator between ecommerce and brick and mortar. Online retailers like Amazon are coming up with ideas to widen this gap with drones for delivery. With this technology they would be able to do one day delivery for local orders giving competition to other retailers. While retail giant Walmart has gained a patent for drone delivery Domino’s has already used drones to deliver pizza. It is easy to predict that many others will follow in the footsteps of these retailers once they establish this system successfully.

As the consumers change the way they shop, retailers must leverage evolving technologies to match expectations and experiences. Mixing analytics with data channels, using various location based technologies and leveraging machine learning for customer support like chatbots open up a new horizon for retail. 2017 has seen retailers opening their doors to many experimental technologies and many of them are still in nascent stage, the coming year will see these technologies and the industry getting more used to these and reach new heights of customer centricity.

Shreyasee Ghosh

Shreyasee Ghosh

Research Analyst at Aspire Systems
Shreyasee Ghosh is responsible for handling various kinds of marketing content including whitepapers. She has a 1st class 1st Graduation degree in Mass Comm & Journalism. In a career spanning over four years she has worked at a renowned media organization and other IT companies.
Shreyasee Ghosh