Integrating Tech with the Physical Retail Space: How Brick-and-Mortar Outlets Remain Relevant

Integrating Tech with the Physical Retail Space: How Brick-and-Mortar Outlets Remain RelevantTechnology has become an integral part of our daily lives. For some, living without their cell phone or their tablet, for example, simply isn’t an option. Burberry on London’s Regent Street is a brick-and-mortar store that seeks to profit from this consumer behavior by incorporating technology to increase sales and improve the overall customer experience.

Upon arrival, customers are greeted by a floor-to-ceiling screen displaying the latest trends from London Fashion Week. It sets the tone for the shopper experience. With fashion images displayed on 100-odd screens, accompanied by audio amplified throughout the store on nearly 500 speakers, technology helps customers to connect with what’s new and relevant in fashion.

Magical Tech Mirrors Provide ‘Real-Feel’ Moments

Taking the customer experience to a whole new level, the store features screens and mirrors that magically come to life. When a customer approaches the mirror to see what they look like in a specific product, the mirror displays runway footage and other exclusive videos that interact with radio-frequency identification technology built into the product. Enhancing customer engagement and connectedness to the products, the magical mirrors place customers in real-life scenarios that show the products worn by actual human beings. Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer and CEO said, “Our Regent Street flagship [store] brings our physical and digital worlds together to create amazing experiences that encompass everything from fashion, to heritage, to music, to the Burberry foundation.”

Expanding Brick-and-Mortar Audiences with Augmented Reality (AR) 

Retailers are going a step further and incorporating augmented reality (AR) to improve their marketing and advertising efforts. Trigger, a leading mixed reality agency, combines premier content with the latest technology to create unique shopping experiences. Their goal is to blend physical and digital worlds in a way that’s measurable, working alongside brands such as The LEGO Store, American Apparel, Amazon, Expedia, Travelocity, and more.

3D and life-size product views enable consumers to visualize themselves wearing or owning specific products. Having simple signage or labels is no longer enough. Extended reality (XR) offers brands the opportunity to tell complete product stories that prove to be a powerful tool for marketing and selling products.

Innovation Meets Social Media Engagement 

Engaging consumers beyond the brick-and-mortar store also requires a new level of social media marketing. Many brands are leveraging augmented reality (AR) to increase engagement with their followers or fans. Social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have incorporated AR to deliver unique online experiences that can be leveraged by brands. Creating a pleasant brand experience online has a positive effect on brick-and-mortar stores once consumers enter the physical location.

Integrating Tech with the Physical Retail Space: How Brick-and-Mortar Outlets Remain RelevantAdding the Convenience of AI-Driven Self-Checkouts

One of the major pain points to any shopping experience is the checkout process. Technology is enabling the completion of a shopping experience, from offering consumers the ability to visualize a product in their own life to providing an easy, self-checkout option that’s basically on-the-go. Amazon Go grocery stores, for example, leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and radio-frequency identification (RFID). When entering the store, consumers scan their Amazon Go app. Sensors throughout the store record the products that consumers add to their baskets. Upon leaving the store, their accounts are automatically charged. It’s a simple and convenient way to checkout without having to wait in line.  

Adaptability is the Key to Retail Success

Integrating Tech with the Physical Retail Space: How Brick-and-Mortar Outlets Remain Relevant

Technology is improving and evolving at a rapid rate and the retail experience is no different. Certain market forces simply do not favor older business models. Amitaabh Malhotra, CMO of Omnyway, a contextual digital platform for retailers said, “The key differentiation between successful retailers and the ones that falter and fail is adaptability. There are market forces at work that do not favor older business models that relied on creating a store as a large and convoluted warehouse and expecting shoppers to go through every aisle to find what they need and then go looking for a sales associate to help them checkout. That model is working only for the extreme low end and discount-fueled stores, where margins are extremely tight and volume is the game.”

Brick-and-mortar stores that want to thrive need to move with the times and leverage technology to create unique digital experiences to keep consumers interested and engaged. In an era of complex retail environments, remaining relevant is the key to surviving and thriving.

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