Online shopping has become the way of life: the speed, ease and convenience driving sales up 16.2% year-over-year. Intuitive UI, Chatbots and other facets of technology have already redefined the way we decide, choose, and experience new products. But that is one part of the story. A recent survey revealed that if given a choice, 64% of online shoppers, including millennials and Genz, prefer buying from physical brick and mortar outlets.
It’s becoming clear that while Millennials and Gen Z enjoy the convenience and speed of online shopping, aspects such as tactile satisfaction, instant gratification, and social dynamics are creating a resurgence of retail stores. But we aren’t talking simply about old school, simple brick and mortar outlets. Retailers will need to reimagine how they can combine the best of online shopping experience with tactile satisfaction. Technology is the key to blend the best of the online and offline worlds, creating unique shopping experiences and opening opportunities for companies to dramatically reinvent how they understand and engage consumers.
A recent survey from Tech Pro Research showed that 88% of respondents said that using in-store technology (such as mobile, AR/VR and automated payments) made shopping easier. 67% said technology made shopping more enjoyable.
To augment the online shopping experience, curated retail experiences are proving to be popular. Retailers are beginning to use virtual reality (VR) content to design immersive, interactive experiences where the customer becomes part of the story. For e.g. one of Nike’s store, customers can try out new sneakers on a simulated basketball court, an enclosed soccer trial area, or on a treadmill/jumbotron combination that simulates outdoor runs.
Technology impacts various aspects of retail experience; from product launches to revolving storefront offers to in-store retail experience. Retailer use VR, virtual fitting rooms and augmented reality for customers to try products in different scenarios without even stepping out of the store.
Retailers recognise the influence and impact of social media on millennials and GenZ shoppers, and are expanding the experience to their brick and mortar facilities. Shoppers may discover products online, read peer-to-peer reviews and come half way through their decision making cycle, but they still want to touch, feel and explore before purchasing. Shoppers also, often, want the opinions of their family and friends before making the purchase. Technology is extending this experience, through geo-targeted ads directing customers to the nearest store or offer, where retailers have a view into the shoppers shopping history, preferences, etc.
Focus on convenience
Bridging the gap between click and brick, retailers are opting for high-tech features such as robot parking valets and integrated parking apps to help shoppers find parking spaces, e-hailing pickup zones and fast-charging EV stations.
Take for instance IKEA’s Place app, that virtually brings IKEA products into your home, allowing you to gauge how the product will look in the determined space even before you step into the store. It’s a whole new way for customers to experience convenience and make more informed decisions.
New retail technology is providing customers with relevant products, better customer service, and the ability to experience products before making the decision to buy the product.