By Matthias Woggon, eyefactive
Rumors of the death of retail are greatly exaggerated. Despite the inextricable rise of online shopping, brick and mortar stores continue to be a pillar of the buying experience.
To be sure, online retail is claiming a continually-growing slice of the pie, as its cost, convenience, and experience increasingly aligns with customer expectations. However, rather than replacing in-store shopping altogether, online stores have reshaped retail in its own image.
In-store shoppers have their experience and expectations shaped by the digital age, and retailers that want to thrive in this environment will both understand this seismic shift, and they will adjust their practices accordingly, ensuring that they provide the most prescient shopping experience possible.
Here are five trends that will drive the retail experience in 2020.
#1 Deep Analytics
Online retailers have one clear advantage over in-person retailers: they know everything about their customers. By recording and evaluating every view, click, near-purchase, and quick bounce rate, online stores have clear insights into their customers that they can use to make strategic decisions about how to best reach their audience.
In 2020, that deep analytics is coming to the in-store experience.
For instance, developments in new technologies like proximity sensors and cameras with facial recognition can measure a person’s interaction with in-store advertising or other content. At the same time, modern algorithms can detect parameters like age, sex, and mood, effectively bringing Big Data to the in-store experience.
In doing so, retailers make the transition from a static deployment of goods and services to a dynamic operation that’s responsive to the wants and demands of customers entering their space.
#2 Touch Screens
Digital touch screens are a ubiquitous part of daily life, as nearly half of the world’s population carries them around in their pockets. Now, interactive digital signage is making its way into stores, bridging the gap between online shopping and in-store buying and providing new value to customers.
The benefits are threefold.
- Retailers can add an entertainment value to their store. Compelling product videos or other digital content is engaging shoppers in a new and delightful way.
- Retailers can provide access to product information, allowing customers to access the information, like customer reviews, that’s now standard in the online shopping experience.
- Retailers can engage their customers in new, creative ways, enhancing the value of going into a store and making a purchase.
For example, stores can deploy interactive digital signage to give customers access to their entire digital catalogue that include interactive guides that allow shoppers to experience the product in real-time from the convenience of a high resolution, easy-to-use screen.
In addition, interactive digital signs can offer custom consultations, buying advice, product demos, or other personalized content that amplifies the in-store shopping experience.
Ultimately, interactive digital signs aren’t about mimicking opportunities already online. Instead, it’s a brand-new assimilation of digital content into the buying process.
#3 Interactive Apps
It’s estimated that as many as 94 percent of retailers use or have used digital signage, which means that this technology alone won’t differentiate a store’s in-person offerings. In other words, interactive digital signage is more of a given than a differentiating feature, so retailers need to pay attention to the content that goes on these screens.
Given the relative affordability of this technology, most retailers don’t struggle to acquire hardware. Instead, the cost burden comes from software development, an expensive priority that few retailers have the in-house personnel to produce themselves.
However, the indelible rise of touch screen technology will streamline the rise of standardized interactive apps that improve and differentiate the in-store experience.
In the same way that any businesses can create a SquareSpace website that, to borrow from their advertising parlance, is powerful yet simple and easy-to-use, in 2020 standardized software will allow retailers to realize their in-store content dreams without the high overhead that accompanies custom software development from scratch.
Until recently, in-store shopping was an exercise in passivity. Customers entered a shop and glanced around at the advertising and merchandise before deciding to make a purchase. In 2020, that process will need to become more active if retailers hope to encourage shoppers to actually buy something.
While there are many ways that retailers can attempt to engage their shoppers, one trend that is beginning to take off is the emergence of digital shopping carts and other immersive technologies. Things like interactive fitting rooms, VR/AR, and voice-activated shopping are all strategies that will become more prominent in the year ahead.
To some extent, engagement is a proverbial arms race, and the right technology can make all the difference.
Ultimately, all of these features identify a need for enhanced personalization from the in-store experience. Today’s shoppers, imbued with the unique experience that follows them around the internet, increasingly expect personalization from their shopping experience.
For many, personalization isn’t a special feature. It’s an established expectation, as more than 63 percent of customers identify this level of care as a base standard of service. Therefore, whether retailers are incorporating deep analytics, deploying interactive touch screen technology, and creating unique content for the in-store experience, it will all be in an effort to provide the personalized shopping experience that customers demand.
Indeed, retail has been forever refashioned in response to the digital age, and, while it won’t disappear entirely, it won’t look the same as it did even just a few years ago. In that sense, 2020 represents both a challenge and an opportunity to reach shoppers in new ways. This creates an opening to boost sales while engaging a new type of in-store customer who is technologically literate and looking for those features when they walk into a shop.
2020 won’t bring the death of in-store shopping, but it very well may be the birth of new trends that position the industry to thrive in the future.
About The Author
Matthias Woggon is the CEO and Founder of eyefactive and creator of its AppSuite Touchscreen CMS. Under Woggon’s tenure, the eyefactive team has advanced what has been successfully established for smartphones and tablets to large-scale professional touch screens with the world's first specialized interactive digital signage app platform, a whole new eco-system with customizable touch screen apps, intuitive content management software and an extensive online app marketplace. Learn more about this new solution offered by the award-winning eyefactive, servicing global brands such as Hyatt, Ernst & Young, 3M, Nestle, McDonald’s and BMW, by visiting https://www.multitouch-appstore.com/en/.