Augmented Reality , Retail , Customer Engagement

Immersive Retail Experiences

How can brick & mortar stores attract customers? Some successful examples of brands using tech to offer immersive shopping experiences to store visitors.

 

Since the early days of e-commerce, experts have predicted the slow and steady doom of the physical retail stores. Today, getting shoppers to leave the comforts and safety of their homes to come to stores is a tricky challenge, however, immersive retail experiences are about to change that. 

Brands are moving beyond offering just informative or entertaining content pieces to their audience, with advancements in technology and the evolving craft of interactive storytelling, they are now moving towards dynamic experiences that demand greater involvement from the viewers. Retailers are not behind and are using immersive experiences to stand out from their competition. Also, using the right technology in creative ways makes the buying experience more fulfilling for the buyers and is becoming a huge differentiator in attracting them to stores when online shopping is teasing more convenience and reliability.

The importance of creating experiences is highlighted by the fact that millennials today prefer spending more on experiences like -going to the movies and dine-outs, visiting an amusement park or going to travel destinations with friends over just buying more stuff. Retailers, as a result, are now focusing on giving the best in-store experiences to their visitors. These experiences are not only helping the buyers make better buying decisions like -virtual try-outs and on-the-spot customisations -but are also entertaining them while they make their purchase. 

Here are some successful examples of brands using the right technology to wow their customers. 

 

Interactive Mirrors

A Ralph-Lauren store in New York is giving end-to-end support to their store visitors with an interactive display. Customers can not only virtually try different variations of clothing but also browse through the real-time store inventory, interact with a sales executive and request different colours and sizes of an item, all using just an interactive mirror. The display also allows them to vary the changing room lighting and gives suggestions based on the item being tried-on. To sustain further brand interaction, the customers can also give their contact information to get the product information on their phones so that they can mull over their buying decisions even later when they are not inside the store. 

 

In-store Apps

Apps and QR codes are being utilised by brands like Decathlon to make the in-store purchase more seamless eliminating the need for billing counters and sale reps. Similarly, Alibaba’s Hema supermarket uses a dedicated app to give more information on products, book tables and order food for in-store dining and so on. 

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Virtual Try-On

Specs brands are eliminating the need for physical try-outs with a screen that can map user’s faces and suggest frames as per their face shape and other given preferences. Brands like Lenskart use similar technology in their e-commerce and for their in-store visitors. Similarly, make-up brand Sephora has a ‘Beauty Hub’ that acts as a virtual assistant giving shoppers a virtual makeover to test different products (without actually applying any). Store visitors thus get bespoke experiences powered by tech and in-store representatives’ expertise. 

 

 

Omnichannel Experience 

Integrating online shopping with in-store shopping can be done in various ways. Brands do this with a focus to give an integrated overall shopping experience -omnichannel retail -where the customer has the privilege of continuing their buying journeys at any touchpoint from wherever they left off. 

Nike Innovation Store visitors have customisation studios, instant check-outs and a ‘Speed Shop’ where users can book a shoe online, come to the store to pick it up by scanning a code, try out and buy-it. Similarly, Amazon Go’s automated checkout lets customers automate the checkout and payment process, allowing customers to just visit a store, pick up items they want to purchase and leave while the payment is taken care of by the Amazon Go app. 

 

 

Digital Price Tags

US-based grocery chain Kroger introduced digital tags that tell nutritional and pricing information and can be integrated into the store’s app to give notifications to visitors on finding items on their shopping cart, sending alerts when stocks are available, updating product inventory and data in real-time. 

 

Interactive Windows

Store windows are a great way to attract walker-bys and combining it with creative use of technology can make a store stand out from the crowd. British clothing company Ted Baker installed interactive windows that encouraged users to place their hands in the window, triggering a camera that took their pictures and placed them inside the scenes from their brand film ‘Keeping up with the Bakers’. 

Similarly, women’s fashion brand Topshop turned their windows into an interactive pool scene that took viewers, wearing a VR headset, into a 360-degree virtual water ride. 


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