We are experiencing a flood of digitally native brands transitioning to brick and mortar in recent years. Again, and again, we’ve gotten wind of unicorn brands like Warby Parker and Casper mattresses making their meteoric rise to brick-and-mortar stardom. Not surprisingly, we’ve also seen many traditional brick-and-mortar brands successfully reinvent themselves during the post-digital transformation.
With all the success stories swirling, you may be asking yourself, “What’s the key to remaining relevant at brick and mortar in the current landscape?” No matter your brand, background or customer base, your top priority should be personalizing the shopping experience.
What’s up for grabs? A whole lot of foot traffic, for one. It’s predicted that retail sales will increase between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent to more that $3.8 trillion this year alone. For every company closing their doors, there are two opening.
Retailers are also testing store formats such as opening some type of pop-up store (24 percent), and opening warehouses or distribution centers (12 percent). With all that traffic, you’ll want to make sure your brand is on the leading edge. As we speak, retail stores across all verticals are working to become tech-savvy experience centers rife with unique and unexpected personal touches.
Sephora stores’ digital window graphics
Take Sephora, for example. The beauty behemoth has nailed the shopper experience with a multitude of touchpoints that surprise and delight. Digital window graphics make an impactful first impression, enticing customers into the store and promoting new products and promos.
Interactive tablets both encourage shopper interaction and serve as a convenient tool for store employees. Newly developed Lift and Learn technology triggers relevant content on-screen the millisecond the product is interacted with, capturing and analyzing lift data to influence future merchandising.
If wayward shoppers can’t discern between the correct foundation shades, they can choose to get their face scanned. Employees equipped with handheld Color IQ devices now use color-matching technology to detect skin tone and assign a four-digit code. Shoppers can then enter the code into the Sephora mobile app to peruse product recommendations. You have to admit, it’s all pretty genius when executed in tandem.
Consistent omnichannel experiences
Truth be told, the more customers engage, the more opportunity stores have to serve up unique and memorable experiences. And while in-store opportunities are growing by the day, the real question retailers should be asking themselves: “How can I invest in strategies that will provide my customers with a holistic experience across digital, social, AND in-store?”
It turns out there is a halo effect.” “Bricks effect Clicks,” as ICSC reports. Opening a new brick-and-mortar store triggers a 37% increase of web traffic to the retailer’s ecommerce site.
So rather than separating the three touchpoints, brands should embrace them with an omnichannel approach, using data and retail technology. It’s increasingly important that retailers have all three working synergistically to be successful, and that means they first need to understand their customer. Those serving up a consistent and relevant experience at each entry point into the brand are best set up to come out on top in today’s marketplace.
Understanding customer behavior
Lucky for us, there are more ways than ever to understand customer behavior and buying habits. We’re seeing the emergence of facial scanners and smart mirrors that can read shoppers’ emotions, discern between different genders, and gauge what promotions resonate most effectively. As mentioned previously in the Sephora example, we’re also seeing the rising popularity of Lift and Learn technology, which marks products with RFID tags and populates digital screens with product information in real-time when triggered.
The cool thing? Many of these forward-thinking technologies come equipped with tools for recording and analyzing data. Brands have begun exploring the notion of tying a customizable experience to specific merchandise and buyer habits—and then translating the data.
Current technology allows stores to measure how many actual “lifts” particular products receive and begin to see which products are most engaged with. That means brands will be better able to understand their customer’s behavior and buying habits.
Given the move toward more personalized customer experiences, it might be time to ask yourself how your company has modified its omnichannel presence in recent months. Have you invested in strategies and tools to provide your customers with a holistic experience that combines digital, social and in-store experiences? Have you put sales-reporting tools in place to measure product performance metrics?
There’s no arguing that stores across all verticals are reinventing the customer experience to attract new customers and develop a deeper connection to their brand. The brick-and-mortar brands that work to become multifaceted experience hubs will inevitably come out on top, both engaging their core customer and measuring shopper behavior and buying habits.
Mood Media provides in-store music, digital signs, messaging, mobile marketing and other services for store operators.