The retail landscape has evolved significantly over the last decade, and consumer habits have changed with it. A shift towards using digital technology in retail has seen online shopping become increasingly prevalent.
As a result, many commentators have predicted the death of the high street. But a new study commissioned by Mood Media shows there is very much still a place for traditional brick-and-mortar retail.
Bridging the gap between online and offline
The study involved more than 11,000 consumers in nine countries. 78% of respondents said the ability to touch, feel and try products was their primary reason for shopping in physical stores.
Scott Moore, global senior vice president of marketing at Mood Media, said: “Consumers, particularly younger consumers, aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience. And their expectations for a positive, emotionally engaging experience are quite high.”
The challenge for retailers, then, is to create a customer experience that bridges the gap between online and offline shopping, and entices consumers into their stores.
One of the most effective ways to do that is with digital technology in retail. Here are four developments that are driving the the transition to a more integrated approach:
Self-service is perhaps the most widespread digital technology in retail. Many retailers in the UK have embraced self-service checkouts, with the larger supermarkets leading the charge.
Consumers have embraced them too: in a recent survey, 66% of respondents said they want self-service options when shopping, and 44% said they ‘really like’ self-checkouts.
Amazon has taken the concept one step further. Its Amazon Go grocery store offers a shopping experience with no checkout process at all – you simply take what you want and walk out the door.
Is this the future of retail? Amazon certainly seems to think so.
2. Augmented reality and virtual reality
Retailers are beginning to take advantage of augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance the shopping experience.
AR enables consumers to ‘try’ products before they buy them. For example, IKEA has pioneered AR catalogues which show people what a piece of furniture would look like in their home.
VR can be used to create immersive, interactive experiences that demonstrate products on a whole new level.
3. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, or IoT, provides an opportunity to gather valuable consumer data which will enable retailers to create personalised, responsive, real-time experiences in-store.
IoT technology has a broad range of applications in retail, including inventory tracking, improved customer service and more effective management of local inventory levels.
And with 70% of retail decision makers ready to adopt IoT to improve the customer experience, it looks set to revolutionise retail.
Digital technology in retail: a summary
Digital technology in retail is transforming the customer experience. With amazing developments like these already hitting our stores, we can only dream about where things might be in five years’ time.
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