Even with the rise of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retail is seeing significant growth in most major markets. At the same time, physical retailers can learn valuable lessons from the success of ecommerce. Merging physical and digital experiences in-store enables the highly personalized, user-friendly experiences that were previously confined to the realm of online shopping.
And experiences are key. According to one study, customer experience is poised to overtake price as the main brand differentiator. In addition to providing engaging experiences, retailers can also utilize tools that bridge the gap between physical and digital to gain insight into the shopping habits and preferences of their in-store customers.
Let’s examine two key areas for innovation: fashion retail and grocery.
Clothing retailers can create engaging and memorable brick-and-mortar shopping experiences with devices that make in-store shopping digital:
- Interactive fitting rooms: It’s no surprise the sales are abandoned in fitting rooms, but interactive fitting rooms remove the discomfort and hassle of trying on clothes by allowing shoppers to find better sizes and colors, check out similar or complementary styles and call for assistance, all without leaving the fitting room.
- Cart transfer: Customers do product research online, often adding wish list or interesting items to their online cart before visiting a physical store to purchase them. By placing a tablet-based kiosk, such as Aila’s Interactive Kiosk, either at greeting points or in the aisles, retailers can empower customers to easily access their online carts and then find those or additional products in the store, so sales (and the opportunity to up-sell) aren’t lost.
- Product and inventory info: In-aisle scanning touchpoints allow customers to scan any item, barcode or symbology and instantly offers them complete product information, inventory numbers, and locations and suggests complementary items, seizing an important a clienteling opportunity regardless of the availability of a sales associate.
- Ship to store: The ability to buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) is attractive to customers, and stores can make the pick-up process smooth and seamless with a digital touchpoint that helps customers locate their items to be collected and allows sales associates to verify payment.
- Gift registries: Sleek, lightweight mobile devices, such as Aila’s Mobile Imager, in the hands of the shopper allow gift registry participants to enjoy the process without the unwieldy bulk of legacy ruggedized scanners. Plus, scanning devices built around devices like the iPod or iPad can offer a deeper level of product information, so they get exactly the gifts they need on their registry.
- Employee handhelds: We’re all used to having the power of a smartphone at our disposal whenever we want to look something up, buy a product, or connect with our friends. This same functionality (and a few others) can empower retail sales associates with a versatile tool for assisting customers in the fitting room, in-aisle, at checkout, or wherever they need it. Today’s consumer mobile devices, like Apple’s iPhone, can be used in a number of ways to digitally enrich and streamline customer experiences.
For grocery retailers, adding engaging touchpoints at greeting and decision points throughout the store can increase sales and improve the customer experience:
- Deli ordering: Grocers can slash lines and increase deli orders with a deli counter touchpoint. Shoppers love the ease and comfort of ordering from a kiosk, as the deli counter can often be an intimidating experience to shoppers, and grocery retailers can increase deli sales when deli customers see shorter physical lines. Kiosks are also effective at the bakery for designing cakes or placing customer orders.
- Scan-and-go: A major pain point for grocery shoppers occurs at the checkout line. To combat frustrating long lines and abandoned carts, grocers are implementing scan-and-go technology. This can come in the form of handheld scanners that shoppers pick up while entering the store, or via smartphone apps, where shoppers can use the internal camera on their own device. By implementing this technology within the checkout process, shoppers can pay easily via QR code scanning at checkout.
- Personalized recommendations: Some shoppers are easily overwhelmed when confronted with an extensive wine, beer, or cheese selection. An informational in-aisle touchpoint can walk them through finding the right item for their tastes and/or occasion. Software companies, such as Aila partner Tastry, are creating personalized recommendations via interactive questionnaires and scan-enabled touchpoints.
- Item locator: At greeting points or throughout the store, consider adding a touchpoint solution that directs shoppers to the items on their list. This is a great way to encourage loyalty programs and couponing as well, as digital or physical coupons can be scanned at the kiosk to provide product information as well as its exact location in the store, plus offers the opportunity to up-sell or suggest complementary items.
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