It seems technology is infiltrating retail more and more. From interactive windows to interactive displays, retailers are taking the approach that more is better when it comes to providing customers with a user experience that allows them to control how they get information.
From around the world, check out these videos that showcase how retailers are using technology to engage and interact with customers.
Just as a customer may check out specs or information about products online, these amazing window and in-store technologies allow customers to select the products they’re interested in seeing, then go as deep as they want into understanding more about the products.
And that means a couple big shifts in how retailers operate:
Customers are in control. No longer reliant on sales associates for information, the customer can make informed decisions, negating the need for well-informed associates. I’m not saying that associates don’t need to be informed, but it begs the question of whether sales associates will become doers instead of thinkers. That means perhaps you know which shoe you want to purchase and all you need is someone to bring it to you to try it on, then ring up the sale (and even that aspect is going away with the trend toward self-checkout).
One-way communication becomes the dinosaur. For a long time retailers have used flat panels TVs to communicate information or content TO the customer. Think runway shows on TVs in apparel retailers or menus outside the front door on TVs at restaurants. For the most part, the use of TV content in stores was really to act as living wallpaper and add ambiance to the store. Look for the use of this one-way technology to go away in favor of interactive displays that serve as art, store ambiance, information providers and more.
So I’m sitting here scratching my head and thinking, what’s going to happen to entrepreneurial retailers with all of this? After all, entrepreneurial retailers are slower to adapt to technology simply because the cost of entry is so high. But as more big name retailers roll out this type of technology, walking into a great little boutique may seem boring by comparison.
So how do you compete?
Inform customers by using signs. It seems almost archaic but if it’s the tool that’s at your disposal, then use it. Customers are always hungry for information so give it to them. Sure, a simple sign may not be as glam as an interactive display, but it’s what you’ve got. The only crime would be to not provide any information at all.
Hire the right sales associates (and train them). Customer service still is a differentiator in retail. So hire the right staff with the right personality and attitude, then train them well. They should be passionate about your category of retail and be able to answer the customer’s toughest questions. It’s up to you to ensure that you’re delivering.
Create a sanctuary. We are reaching saturation on messaging that’s infiltrating every part of our lives. It bothers me that shopping centers are using every available space, from the space above storefronts to the tables in the food court to advertise to you. Even airport bathroom mirrors have ads running on them. Customers are going to get tired of this assault on the senses so create a place where they can take a break.
Technology is here to stay and is only going to become more interactive. How are you going to adapt and change with the changing technology?
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