How the Retail Experience Will Change

Classic retail–inventory-on-display, cash registers, helpful clerks, day-after-Thanksgiving cage matches–is alive, but clearly ailing.The combination of a slumping economy and new technologies has given a one-two punch to bricks-and-mortar shops. Brands and retailers are looking to find ways to increase traffic and sales. The solution lies within a more social and interactive retail shopping experience. Here are three ways to help retailers add more sizzle to  the customer’s shopping experience–and close more sales

Every day brings a new report ,noting the growth of smartphone penetration. Mobile is becoming the norm; retailers need to take advantage of. Exploiting this can be as simple as integrating Foursquare into their social mix and offering deals to visitors who check in.  Or, it can take a further step, like creating an app that allows customers to price-check or add items to a wish list, become a part of a loyalty program, be notified later if the item goes on sale.  Regardless of how brands and on-the-ball retailers go about using mobile, the ultimate task is getting in touch with customers.

Digital Signage
Digital signage will provide a lower, long-term cost for retailers and add significant individual value to customers. Digital signs will help with the personalization of the shopping experience via mobile. Through a digital sign and possibly Near Field Communication (NFC), retail signs can become smarter and able to help individuals make better decisions based on their digital profile.  You might walk into Target to buy toothpaste, but the sign nudges your mobile phone indicating you also need to buy shaving razors based on the last time you purchased them. Retail, mobile, and predictive analytics will be available soon.   Count on it.  And get it.

Interactive Experience
Retail exhibits are going to get more digital.  A mere cardboard sign with black ink won’t cut it anymore; especially for retailers in dense areas like New York City or Washington DC, where real estate is limited. Retail exhibits could conceivably use augmented reality to “expand” their retail space and allow users to be more interactive with their shopping experience. Instead of having a fully stocked retail store, your customers could browse through a digital catalog, augmented onto a store’s wall. Customers can then pick out items they want to see, which would pop out in 3D on the wall so that the customers can interactive with the merchandise before buying it. All of a sudden retailers are able to keep overhead low, have more product, and keep shoppers interested longer.

But the brick and mortar shopping experience is going to continue its change in coming months and years. Retailers are desperate to keep shoppers coming in on foot and will need to be particularly creative to do so. Mobile shopping is going to be pinching their bottom line.  The way to meet this challenge is get them into the store to touch the merchandise, then to apply skillful sales techniques–both human and digital–to close the sale.

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