There are some discussions around the raising competition between offline and online shops, and easy to find a lot of evidence in favor of e-commerce, and the fact is, that it is getting more popular. Along with that, exists enough acknowledgments that offline store experience is still in great demand of customers. In addition to this, there are some researches that have revealed a tendency among customers to combine online and offline shopping habits. As a result, a significantly larger number of the store owners and managers should consider an opportunity of switching to the omnichannel strategy.
The developing of the internet and technology are pushing businesses to find new solutions and think ahead in order to survive. In such way, more and more retail companies are pursuing to interconnect the online and offline “worlds”, although, many of the attempts to bring technologies to the physical retail fairly often lose out. The reason is that retailers or tech entrepreneurs frequently do not determine three main requirements for technology adoption: the technologies should assist customers during their visit the shop and help to achieve the main goal to find and experience products; the ROI for the retailer must be clear and compelling; the exciting customer experience should be enhanced with the technologies, but not distract.
On the one hand, technologies adopted in the store should be smoothly integrated into the physical ambiance, facilitate shopping process, save customers time and increase their impressions. While it is not supposed to look like hard using technology, rather it has to be intuitive and easy, likewise the excellent personal guide within the store. On the other – support retailers with a better understanding of customer behaviors, what is work what is not, allowing to get meaningful data.
There are some companies who have made a considerable contribution to the developing of this area. Retailnext offers in-store analytics solution which integrates with the largest number of physical and digital data sources inside and around the store. Newstore is a company who has created a mobile platform which links online and offline activities of store customers. Slyce provides a visual product-search portfolio to retailers, helping them convert photo searches to instant purchases.
Here is another company, who was one of the first pioneers who has brought interactive technologies in retail stores, to be more precisely, smart interactive mirrors – Oak Labs . As stated on Oak Labs website – ”The Oak Mirror is an interactive, touch-screen mirror that empowers shoppers to customize their fitting room’s ambiance, explore product recommendations and digitally seek assistance from store associates.” The Oak Mirror is such kind of device that replaces a usual fitting room mirror. Through the usage of Radio Frequency IDentification technology (RFID) that tracks items via their tags it can detect the number of products in the premise, it also synchronized with the retailer’s inventory system and can provide product information – image, color, and size available, gives intelligent product recommendations (such as combination of colors and additional products) and seamlessly connect shoppers with sales professionals via dedicated mobile or wearable devices. So, customers are able to send the request for other size or/and color to sales associate’s device. Along with this, it allows to control the lighting in the fitting room to place the customer in specific moods and moments for example: ”Street-Style”, ”Candlelight Dinner” or ”Dress-Up”. Another function is an opportunity to choose between languages: German, English, Spanish or Russian.
Additionally, retailers can benefit from data gathering, its analyzes and receiving actionable knowledge. For instance, tracking each item that enters a dressing room allows to understand how shoppers are interacting with the clothes, what looks are most popular and vice versa, which models fit more and which less, what clothes are bought and what get back on the shelves, how customers interact with the touchscreen (mirror) and send help requests to the sales associates, whether customers buy recommended items or not.
No doubt, that such technologies brought new opportunities to the retailers, although, they may raise the engagement of young customers, but to be not so easy to adopted in the stores which target older customers, for the reason that their shopping habits are different and they will need some time to learn and get used to them.
Online and offline are no longer discernible spaces and we can assume, it is just a beginning.