In the age of Amazon.com, physical stores have to compete more than ever to provide customers with a shopping experience that rivals the ease and convenience of online shopping. The use of interactive digital displays are helping to provide customers with an immersive experience that engages multiple senses, something that’s impossible to replicate on the web. But how and where in-store to best capture the hearts and minds of your shoppers? As we think about the customer journey around a typical store, here are some of the touch points where a retailer could use a digital display to augment the current experience.
Window Displays: Converting Passersby Into Shoppers
Street displays have always been an important part of the retail environment, providing the first opportunity to show shoppers what they can find in the store. Now, with the use of digital displays, stores can capture passerby attention in more creative ways that really show off the product. Many retailers are creating interactive experiences that give customers extra incentive to come inside, like the LEGO Store display in Chicago. The giant display uses a Kinect to turn anyone standing outside into a video game character they control with their body movements.
By turning the window display into a free game, LEGO positions its store as more of an extension of its brand’s values rather than a place for monetary exchange. Reinforced as a ‘fun place’ rather than just a store, people will be more likely to go inside. Beyond simply providing ‘fun’ experiences, stores are also using window displays as another conversion point. Bloomingdales experimented with letting passersby virtually ‘try on’ sunglasses in store windows and BMW has used digital windows in a showroom to transform ordinary cars on the street into cars of the future.
Store Walls: Transforming Static Walls Into Dynamic Information Hubs
After getting shoppers in, interactive ‘walls’ of products stand bright to greet them. Here people can access everything there is to know about what’s on display, and even see things that might not be in stock. For example, the adiVERSE Footwear Wall, powered by Intel technology, allows shoppers to see up to 8,000 shoe styles in 3D through touchscreens so they can find the one just right for them.
We spoke with Raj Maini, Intel’s Worldwide Director of Marketing for Visual Retailing, about the adiVerse Footwear Wall and how it meets both brand and consumer goals. To quote Maini, the wall brings the huge amount of information usually available on the Internet into the physical retail store, transforming each product into an access point into the brand’s universe that the customer can explore. This serves the consumer’s sense of value and time, and it helps the brand by allowing customers to browse all items, not just what’s physically in-store. It contributes to a seamless, easy buying experience (sometimes with discounts and incentives) that comfortably moves the customer along the purchasing path. It seems to have worked; Mr Maini confirms that Adidas saw same-store sales increase 500% after installing the interactive wall.
Kiosks And Cases: Enabling Virtual Testing
The main strength of brick-and-mortar shops is that shoppers can really see and try items before they buy, but some things are harder to display than others. Shoes are relatively straightforward – but what about cosmetics? This is where interactive kiosks and display cases, like Macy’s Beauty Spot (pictured above) come in. This kiosk not only identifies the user’s skin tones and recommends cosmetics that would go well with their complexion, it notifies nearby sales reps to bring the customer the actual product they are interested in.
Another area benefitting from the introduction of digital screens are display cases that usually hold expensive or limited items. Technologies like Samsung’s transparent display box helps customers ‘try on’ the product without physically removing it. Originally intended for multilayered product display, MIT Media Lab alum Jinha Lee has adapted the concept for use as a virtual space to ‘wear’ watches and accessories.
Customers select an item they’d like to ‘try on,’ then stick their arm in the display space while holding a device that tracks their orientation. The product then appears on the transparent screen, right over the user’s arm as if they were wearing it. This new technology could enable customers to try items that aren’t in the store, but are stocked online.
On The Racks And In The Dressing Rooms: Enabling A Better Fit
Although digital displays might be able to replace trying on a watch, it’s another thing entirely when trying on clothes. Something that looks great on the rack may not fall well on a customer when they actually try it.
To alleviate this problem and ensure a better fit for the shopper, digital displays in dressing rooms can map body shapes to select the most comfortable and flattering style and fit. Imagine entering a dressing room and cameras around you quickly analyze your body’s shape, and display a selection of outfits that would fit you. Selecting one, it is overlaid on your reflection in a ‘digital mirror’ that moves with you. Sounds futuristic but companies like Bodymetrics and FaceCake have already been doing this for over a year.
And before shoppers even get into the dressing room, connected hangers can show them how to best wear or use items. Digital screens hang behind the racks, and when a hanger is picked up, the screen displays the item the customer is holding. In the example above, the display screens make outfit suggestions based on the item in hand, but in other applications, the screens could show a product demonstration, or display a social feed of online reviews.
With all these awesome displays, why do stores even need sales reps? Mr. Maini explains that such technologies are not meant to replace the in-store shopping experience, only augment it. A sales person with a tablet is that much more efficient at their job if they can pull up relevant information or make the sale without having the customer stand in line. There is still tremendous value in having a warm, caring person in a store who can tell you “that shirt looks great” and make you feel comfortable. These kiosks, screens and tablets are built to work with the human touch, something that shoppers will never find online.
While digital displays are most visibly leading the way in the future of retail, other technologies behind the scenes are enhancing customer service as well, by anticipating shoppers’ needs and tracking their movements to offer truly unique and personal experiences. Stay tuned to iQ by Intel as we delve into these developments in future articles!
Part of a Four Part Series, The New High-Tech Retail Environment