From digital advertising screens to fitting rooms that superimpose outfits onto your silhouette, the modern retail store is moving further away from its traditional format. Progressive brands including Burberry, Lacoste, Topshop, Ikea and Argos are among those already using technology to reimagine the shop floor, turning local High Street outlets into interactive theatres of dreams.
But where should retailers yet to embrace the digital revolution, begin transforming their store? A recent Retail Technology article pointed out that shoppers are no longer ‘wowed’ by tablets – they expect stores to take payments, check stock availability and carry out other helpful tasks in a flexible manner. Therefore businesses should look to their advertising strategy to engage store visitors in new ways.
For example, rather than putting posters up, many retailers are now opting for digital screens that rotate key campaign messages. The real-time capacities of this channel also enables them to react to industry events and update promotions in line with online activities.
While this is a sensible starting point, some of the larger retail brands feel display technology alone isn’t enough; customers need to be drawn into a digital conversation. For this, a new level of investment is needed.
One example is Superdrug, which has drawn inspiration from the popularity of the ‘selfie’, giving customers the opportunity to take and share photos of themselves wearing the latest available makeup ranges. Alternatively, both Converse and Lacoste have taken interaction even further, devising an app that superimposes their footwear onto customers’ feet so that they can try out a product without even having to remove their own shoes.
Although uniting digital and physical in-store is a powerful way to revolutionise the act of shopping, it’s important that retailers only view cutting-edge technology as the icing on the cake. With so many possibilities available, it’s easy to get lost in the vision of being different and miss the point of reinventing the store: to improve the customer’s purchasing experience.
After all, retailers can have the most alluring digital set-up on the High Street, but excitement alone won’t convert browsers into buyers. Every retail theatre must perform to rigorous consumer standards – and that means having the right items in stock, offering helpful customer service and providing an efficient payments process.