Retailers looking to capture in-store consumers need to turn to technology

All bricks and mortar retailers have one objective – to drive in-store traffic and convert it to sales. As on-line sales grow, the demand for in-store technology rises as physical retailers attempt to claw back a competitive edge. Jon Knight of Ascentae sets out some of the options.

​Vgreet lets shoppers connect with a central team of product experts.

It’s a myth that people no longer want to go into physical shops. Research from Accenture shows that, while online sales are soaring, stores still play a key role in the shopping experience. But, what has changed is that more than 65% of consumers do their research on-line first.

So, bricks and mortar shoppers still crave that physical product experience, but they also expect a more personalised and immersive encounter that reflects their pre-shop research experience.  Can high street retailers translate the ease of online shopping to the in-store consumer journey? With pressure on budgets, affordable digital technology is now a vital component in the quest to reposition retailers’ product offering – and turn browsers into buyers.

Retail demands

So, what should retailers be demanding of the technology solutions they consider?  Their list may comprise solutions that:

•        Connect the benefits of online shopping with an in-store experience

•        Satisfy tech-savvy consumer needs for a personal, seamless customer journey

•        Help differentiation in a competitive market

•        Deliver a scalable solution for creating a personalised connection with product experts

•        Create interactive experiences between shopper and products or brands

The focus is on getting closer to the customer and inspiring visitors with experiences, knowledge and services. Shopping is no longer simply functional, it’s about multimedia, multichannel experiences. The future is an integration of store, online and mobile.

In-store technology can be an effective tool to bring these together in the world of bricks-and-mortar. A solution that will bring the advantages of shopping online – including transparent pricing, access to stock and product information and a personalised, interactive experience.

Reinventing shopping

Physical stores need to reinvent themselves to become the core of the product experience. The right digital solutions allow retailers to showcase unlimited product variations to the customer and present them bang on target.

With interactive digital displays retailers can mimic the behaviour of online sites, providing advice, alternatives and precise product information – all customised to reflect their individual brand.  Major players may have bigger budgets when it comes to investing in technology, however the latest cost-effective solutions have brought retailers of all sizes on to a level playing field.

Technology provides the perfect platform to showcase products. Distributor Ascentae has identified a number of solutions that can help retailers in their quest to differentiate themselves.

Vgreet gives stores the ability to create an interactive HD showcase. A free-standing or recessed video conferencing solution, Vgreet allows retailers to deploy video and audio while simultaneously displaying content. The personality of each unit is determined by the retailer’s specific needs with optional features including image and data capture, motion detection and contactless payment options.

This flexible communication point offers retailers the opportunity to connect instore customers with human specialist teams who are remotely based. Using video conferencing, customers can access and speak to the retailer’s product experts. It means interactive access to a centralised expert resource, that can be cost effectively scaled up across huge numbers of stores.

The beauty of Vgreet is that it translates the benefits of online shopping into a physical setting. Retailers can display demo videos, product galleries and product descriptions, and let customers pay for goods via the easy-to-use interface. Increasing engagement with consumers, the solution encourages interactivity and helps to minimise queues by delivering relevant information at the swipe of a giant touchscreen.

Personalised connect

One of the keys to retail success is drawing the customer in with personalised content – that feeling of being ‘special’ and ‘valued’. STiNO has introduced some interesting new features to its digital communications software platform.

Proximity marketing, where a customer action is the catalyst for a digital reaction, has been around in retail for some while.  Typically, the technologies used are radio frequency identification (RFID) or near field communications (NFC).  These technologies are limited in what they can achieve. An RFID application relies on the product being in exactly the right spot on the shelf. Every time it is moved, the store staff have to reposition it. And NFC is too reliant on commitment from the shopper to do something, such as scan a QR code.

STiNO offers a number of cutting-edge options. Proximity sensors – very cost-effective Bluetooth devices – are attached to products, which can then sit anywhere on a shelf.  As shoppers approach it, content is triggered on a nearby display.  When picked up, different content, perhaps more detailed, can be displayed.

Taken to another level again, lasers can be incorporated to work in a similar way, but the content is generated once the laser beam is broken. Precise actions can be programmed to occur in different situations – say when a shopper is 5 metres away, 3 metres away, 1 metre away.

It’s a powerful solution, because this type of approach not only allows stores to tailor the content displayed to products or brands that customers are showing an interest in.  Additional benefits are that the data collected from them allows retailers to plan their stores, their messaging and their inventories.  How many people picked up a product at location A?  How do those figures change if it is moved to location B?  If we display message A when it is picked up, how many put the product in their basket? Let’s change the message and see what happens.

Survive and thrive

So, the high street is far from dead.  There is no doubt digital solutions can play a central role in building a bespoke experience for customers in-store, providing tailored content, personal interactions, and valuable data in a way that saves retailers costs and keeps shoppers coming back for more.

Vgreet lets shoppers connect with a central team of product experts.

A wall mounted display, as phones are handled STiNO drives relevant content to the large screen.

A wall mounted display, as phones are handled STiNO drives relevant content to the large screen.

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