To Improve The In-Store Experience, Retailers Are Building Out Their Tech

To Improve The In-Store Experience, Retailers Are Building Out Their Tech

PSFK's Future of Retail 2018 explores how retailers are integrating tech into the in-store experience, using mobile, AI and the Internet of Things

  • 7 december 2017

Armed with a smartphone, today’s consumer expects to be able to get the information they need, when and where they need it. As a result, retailers are implementing a background layer of technology, using mobile and other platforms, to improve the in-store customer experience.

Stores and mall operators are utilizing IoT-enabled infrastructure and chat-based tools to provide shoppers with access to information, service support and navigation assistance, putting an always-available assistant at each shopper’s disposal. In The Future of Retail 2018, PSFK Labs identifies this trend as Ambient Assistance.

Consumers turn to familiar tech even when shopping at a brick-and-mortar location. 77% of all shoppers use a mobile device to search for product information while shopping in physical stores, while just 35% are willing to consult an in-store salesperson with product questions, according to a 2017 RetailDive study. And 37% of consumers say they can’t wait to use a shopping list-based in-store item locator or navigator—but only 4% of retailers currently provide apps that help shoppers navigate the store (Accenture, 2016).

Retailers have an opportunity to tap into the tech that visitors already carry with them (such as mobile and wearables) to offer on-demand support and wayfinding as they enter a retail environment. To take it a step further, they should consider how to build assistance into a retail space via voice portals, interactive displays and IoT applications, which offloads associate work while creating a more independent shopper experience.

Brands will want to prioritize creating mobile tools for shoppers and associates that offer in-the-moment information to inform a purchase decision. They can also make the most of shelf space by creating responsive displays that adapt messaging and rewards to the customers who interact with them.

As an early adopter of this strategy, Simon Property Group delivers personalized assistance to shoppers in over 200 of its North American locations at scale using a chatbot concierge. The U.S. mall operator’s Facebook Messenger bot connects consumers with real-time information pertinent to their particular location including maps, retailer directories and hours of operation. The chatbot is part of Simon’s broader strategy to bring digital experiences to the brick-and-mortar environment in order to ease consumers’ searches.

Target is making shopping easier and more convenient by updating its app to include beacon and Bluetooth technology for in-store shopping. The app will act as a GPS device to help customers navigate and more easily find their desired products. It will also display Cartwheel deals on discounted items in nearby aisles. Target made the technology available in about half of its U.S. stores in time for the 2017 holiday season.

On the brand side, Coca-Cola offers in-store digital signage that uses data from approaching shoppers’ smartphones to create specific content messaging. The system delivers custom content to all screens connected to a Google Chrome OS device and Google Chrome Kiosk App. Coca-Cola’s targeted messaging ranges from brand campaigns to promotional offers and app-guided shopping lists based on a shopper’s location and mobile data. The result, with the advanced end caps, is a more personalized experience that leads to more sales.

The Future of Retail 2018 outlines how companies can transform their stores into experience centers that extend their supply chain and digital commerce platforms, creating mutual value with a focus on shopper experience. Members can download the report today or all readers can immerse themselves in the findings at our retail sessions on Jan. 17, 2018.

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