Today, there is a seismic shift in consumer behavior affecting the retail world—and it’s being driven by technology. Likewise, retailers’ success hinges on an organizational ability to quickly adapt to, and actively integrate these new technologies as they infiltrate the marketplace. With brick-and-mortar retailers at risk of marginalization at the hands of “showrooming” consumers, or those who intend to purchase the merchandise for the best price online, there is no doubt that retailers feel the pressure to enhance their in-store experiences and keep the online sale in their own ecosystem. Here are some technology trends that retailers are adopting to engage the increasingly fickle customer:
- Using a customer’s data + location = great experiences
Even though sharing personal data like purchase history with retailers may feel intrusive to some consumers, it can enhance the shopping experience when used appropriately. For example, Neiman Marcus uses an app called NM Services, wherein a customer’s location data is utilized to have their preferences delivered directly to the Neiman Marcus sales staff. Once a user checks into the store, the staff can begin customizing recommendations for each customer and then efficiently guide these consumers toward appropriate products.
- A buyer’s market
It’s a buyer’s market, and smart retailers know it. Mobile app NetPlenish helps consumers create their “wish list,” and participating nearby retailers then compete with better offers than the current asking price.
- Using technology competes with online stores
With so many consumers’ price sensitivity and busy schedules driving them to shop online, retailers are becoming more adept at creating stunning real-life experiences to lure shoppers back into their stores. Kiehl’s and other retailers have started using technology from Perch, which is an interactive display technology that turns any light-colored table surface into a dynamic, hands-on interactive display.
Perch encourages customers to touch and pick up products on display and rewards them for doing so with information, animations and brand-specific media. It combines the informational benefits of online shopping with the advantages of retail shopping to create a unique and enticing experience for the customer.
- Bringing the retail experience online
Whereas brands previously reserved product testing for brick-and-mortar environments only, sunglasses brand Oakley recently created a service that shows you virtually how their sunglasses perform in various outdoor conditions such as skiing or hiking through the mountains.
- Technology that enhances the customer experience in-store
One of the greatest challenges for retailers is combating returns due to poor fit. To address the diverse shape and size of its customers, major retailers such as Bloomingdale’s and Eddie Bauer have partnered with Me-Ality to bring the company’s 3D sizing technology into daily retail operations. Located in malls across the country, Me-Ality’s Size-Matching Stations utilize the skin’s natural moisture to collect exact body measurements and provide specific size and style recommendations for clothing sold in-store.
Eddie Bauer has leveraged their partnership by offering an exclusive in-store discount on items recommended by the Me-Ality Size-Matching Station, while Me-Ality can now be found in several Bloomingdale’s locations, including 59th Street in New York City. The use of this technology has built a superior personalized shopping experience in-store and a confident shopper at the retailers’ e-commerce sites.
Moving forward, technological innovations will continue to have major impacts on the ways and means in which consumers shop. With the intersection of mobile, big data, and retail tech, we’ll see a drastic shift in how retailers help people shop. To see the Me-Ality’s Size-Matching Station in action at Bloomingdale’s, check out this recent segment on Good Morning America.