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As a shopaholic, I frequently purchase apparels for my friends, family and myself. My friends & cousins always take me with them for shopping when they want to buy something special (maybe because I have a good sense of fashion 😛 ). So I have visited most of the apparel stores in town, both international as well as local brand outlets.
Sometimes the ambience of the store and the services provided by them really make me happy but it never allures me. I always look for a “WOW” effect; something completely different and unique from what I have seen. One way to work towards an amazing customer experience is really listening to your customers. Are they facing any issues in your store at the moment? If the answer is yes, then think of ways to resolve them.
If you ask me, the most frustrating thing in my shopping experience is the long queue in front of trial rooms and at checkout counters. I believe it is equally annoying and irritating for most of us. Shoppers may spend hours browsing to find the right products but they may not always have the patience to wait for their turn at trial rooms/checkout counters. Tackling situations like this to provide a permanent solution will help in enhancing the overall in-store experience. Some retailers like MAX Fashion tried to solve the busy trial room scenario by providing a 30 days return policy for shoppers. They can pay for the apparels they liked, take it home, try it out and return it if it does not suit them. But we cannot call it a smart solution that provides a wow moment for shoppers.
Of course, we can’t expect all shops to be as smart as Amazon Go. But there are a lot of opportunities our retail stores could exploit to get smarter. The expectations of shoppers are getting into its pinnacle day by day. In addition to the typical notions of brand name, quality, pricing etc., the overall ‘experience’ offered by the store is also a criterion people use to rate a store.
So now the question is, “How can we design a unique and memorable customer experience?”
Modern consumers are smarter now. They use multiple channels and devices in their shopping journey. Apart from shopping in-store, they use phones, computers, and tablets to research and buy products. To keep up with the ever growing needs of consumers, retail stores are experimenting with tech innovations to help them lead the way. Let’s look at some popular examples.
Incorporation of virtual mirrors both in-store and online. Lacoste, for example, created an AR mobile app that customers can use to virtually try on shoes. Other apparel brands have also used AR/virtual mirrors to let customers try on their products to see how a potential outfit will fit them. Shoppers would stand in front of a camera mounted screen (mirror) which displays their virtual version on the screen. Then they can choose from different size, fit or style with the swipe of their hand and the customers can see themselves in that attire without ever setting foot into a fitting room. Apart from Augmented reality, there are different types of technological approaches to this like Body Scanners, 3D solutions etc. Another notable example comes from Myntra, one among the largest online fashion stores in India, who help customers try on clothes on a virtual model similar to their own body type on their site.
According to a recent survey, 73% of consumers prefer to search for information about products on their smartphones than asking a store assistant for help. If this is the trend then we can implement Interactive Displays in stores which allow customers to scan a QR/barcode tied to apparel or footwear or any other products using a QR scanner. It would then display product details, including customer reviews, colour variants, and pricing. These displays may also permit users to browse the website of the corresponding store to place an order for products that aren’t currently in store.
With the help of augmented reality or Bluetooth technology, we can implement in-Store Navigation which will make it more efficient and fun to find products in-store. The US-based Lowe’s Companies, UK based retailer Tesco & various shopping malls in the US, UK & Russia have already implemented this in their stores. A customer can follow turn-by-turn digital directions that appear before them to pick up each product they need in the most efficient route.
Philips has come up with a new & innovative product; Luminous Carpets which let you welcome, attract and guide the visitors in a unique & unexpected way. This makes it possible to show markings or real-time information on the floor. Using luminous carpets we can show greetings & messages at the reception area, display attention-grabbing signs and animations, direct visitors to washrooms, different floors, emergency exit etc, and display live information feeds like news headlines in waiting areas.
Long lines at checkout are a big turn-off and can result in shoppers abandoning their purchases, thereby affecting retailer’s revenue. One possible solution for this is in-app checkout – Scan, pay & show. Scan products using a mobile app as you shop, pay directly through the app and show e-receipt on your way out.
Popular American retailer Sam’s Club implemented this time-saving feature in major cities so that their customers can skip long queues and save valuable time.
Along with convenience, these innovations are a ‘cool factor’ that provide customer engagement which attracts more customers to these stores. Retailers and brands have never had it easy; especially in terms of tougher competition and changing consumer trends that are constantly pushing brand managers to raise the bar for their products and customer experience. By offering shoppers better shopping experiences, retail stores would be able to lift up their brand value, providing them with better revenue on one hand, and more loyal shoppers on the other.
If you have experienced any unconventional and exciting features that drive you to a store again, mention it in the comment section.