By Patrick Giusti, Point Inside
Department stores across the country are focusing on technology investments to improve in-store shopping experiences and get customers back in their stores. A recent Gartner survey found that technology is “top of mind for retailers,” and the industry increased its tech investment by 60% in 2016. This investment shows that traditional department stores are looking to reinvigorate the customer experience and create integrated shopping experiences that appeal to today’s connected consumer.
This leads to several questions: What technology should executives prioritize? How can retailers engage with digitally connected consumers in a more personal way? And how can executives leverage technology to make the digital-to-physical experience more cost-effective?
Building A Digital Foundation
Today it seems that most retailers do not have a complete picture of what’s happening in their stores because they simply do not have the digital foundation. For example, understanding traffic patterns is helpful, but if they are not associated with the locations of the products the data does not have full meaning. Once the specific product location is defined then things like dwell times, the effect of adjacencies and product impressions take on new meaning.
The first question that needs to be answered is, where are all of the products located on the floor? This is important for many reasons, including giving guests and store associates the ability to easily find any product in any store, what products are getting seen the most and what is selling best. By digitally indexing the stores, retailers can then combine the physical location of products with sales data and shopper behavior. Digitizing the store in this way also lays the foundation for in-store technologies such as shopper location technology, mobile-based product location search, and optimizing store fulfillment programs such as BOPIS.
Personalized In-Store Offers
The digitally connected shopper uses their smartphones as their planning tool and in-store shopping assistant, which creates a huge opportunity for retailers to reach shoppers via mobile. Most shoppers want retailers to send messages and deals directly to their smartphones as they shop, as long as they’re relevant. In fact, a 2015 report found that more than 70% of Gen Y shoppers are very or somewhat interested in receiving personalized offers on their smartphones.
But sending contextually relevant deals is challenging because merchandise is constantly in flux. A display that had winter parkas last week might have sweaters this week. In order to successfully tee up personalized offers in-store, retailers need to use product data tied to location in combination with precise shopper location. This can be achieved by combining digital indexing with location-based technology that is optimized to convey data.
In the digital era, customers expect a seamless, personalized in-store shopping experience and instant answers to product and inventory questions. In order to meet these elevated customer expectations, retailers must invest in technology that not only gets shoppers back in the store, but also engages them at all phases of the brand experience. Today’s consumers have different needs and wants compared to previous generations, and it’s up to retailers to stay one step ahead of the ever-evolving customer landscape.