Shoppers Are Not Waiting for Brands and Retailers to Catch Up.

Go to any trade show, special event, or meeting related to brick-and-mortar retail, and at some point during the conversation, the topic of the “Store of the Future” is most likely going to come up. What’s going to be the next killer technology? What is going to increase store traffic? How do we surpass the competition? What area of the business should we be focused on…inventory control, AI, digital devices…etc?

It’s a lot to consider, and one of the main considerations for many brands and retailers is the use of new technology to create a more tailored shopping experience. It’s not unusual considering the fact 87% of shoppers are more likely to shop at stores with tailored experiences, leveraging digital screens and eliminating the capture of personal information.¹ At the same time, what folks may not realize is shoppers expect these tailored experiences now and not in the future.

So, for those that are trying to catch up or get ahead of the competition, there are a few areas worth innovating.

Loyalty Programs

For some, loyalty programs are a concept of the past, but it’s still an area of opportunity for innovation with 85% of shoppers still more likely to shop at physical stores with a loyalty program and personalized rewards.¹ It’s also important to emphasize personalized rewards when considering a loyalty program. Shoppers are enrolled in an average of 30 loyalty programs but are only active on less than half of them, primarily because the offers aren’t relevant to them.²

The good news is there are a lot of ways to innovate within loyalty programs. Whether it’s taking a gamification approach or using point redemptions that allow people to pick and choose what’s important to them. All of these ideas are valuable and reinforce the value of discounts, especially in driving repeat shoppers.

Interactive Experiences

Ask 10 different people what an interactive experience means to them, and you’re going to get 10 different answers. At its core, what people are saying is they don’t want to simply walk into a store, look for the product, make a purchase, and walk out (or worse yet, walk in and walk out).

To simplify it a bit, in today’s world of retail technology, shoppers are looking for that unique combination of human and digital interaction. Some of the more common tools retailers are using to create shopper interaction include:

  • Interactive product stations
  • Kiosks or digital displays with product info, inventory, and ordering
  • Interactive store maps

Immersive Experiences

For those that already have an interactive experience in their store, it’s time to take the next step in creating an immersive experience.  To put it another way, instead of using a digital display to only show product information, use that display to show product information or make a recommendation to shoppers based on their demographics or behaviors. For example, promoting a pair of shoes to a young lady between the ages of 13-21 is probably going to be different than promoting a pair of shoes to a 45-55 year old male.

Up to this point, an immersive experience is probably the closest to the “Store of the Future” concept than any of the other topics we’ve discussed. At the same time, today’s shoppers expect they will have this immersive experience within the next 12 monthspromotions and product info tailored to them or digital screens that provide recommendations based on their interests.

In the end, today’s shoppers have been accustomed to immediate gratification, and they expect those experiences now. For those who are already testing and implementing technology today, you’re ahead of the curve, but don’t stop testing and innovating. If you’re not already testing and implementing, it’s time to light a fire and get started, your shoppers are demanding it.

  1. Footnote: Reality of Retail Report 2018 (Full Report Available in Jan 2019)
  2. Footnote: Shoppers Enroll in Lots of Loyalty Programs. Why Don’t They Actually Use Them?