September 04 2013
With retailers slowly facing recovery from the bumps of the world economic crisis’, much has been discussed on how brick-and-mortar stores would be in jeopardy. No doubt, physical stores are strongly investing to innovate and prevent from losing share to e-commerce – but creativity and technology are actually leading to a new world of possibilities in interactive and responsive experiences – this will possibly become a new golden age for Retail.
Still hearing the echo of entrepreneur Marc Andreessen’s apocalyptical words “Retail will be dead”, we know that shopping in stores is becoming less a basic necessity and more an option. None the less, huge online players such as Amazon and E-Bay are constantly considering the in-person aspects of the shopping experience. Clearly there are more things behind people’s behaviour and motivations to drive consumers into stores.
Doug Stephen, known as the Retail Prophet, is a strong evangelist of shopping as a bigger human experience. According to Stephen, that experience includes the need to socialize and to commune – as the act of shopping is in some ways of greater value than the goods purchased. How are brands attracting consumers and making store environments not only appealing, but truly remarkable? Innovative companies are transforming how customers go from simply shopping to having full immersive shopping experiences. The difference is subtle, but meaningful. Technology and Design can provide support when brands try to get in touch with people’s motivation.
An example of exciting technology to give retailers a head start is 3D Projection Mapping. This technique helps brands show and tell compelling stories whilst transforming products into real-life canvases. Early adopters include high fashion boutiques, automotive industries, furniture companies and sport material suppliers. High impact Motion Graphics and Animation explore product characteristics, brand positioning and campaign story.
Digital content is already being used to expand consumer experience, including interactive displays, responding to the audience choices. Through augmented reality, it is simple to preview how clothes would go together or how customized products would look before it is produced. The possibilities are endless and consumers are empowered to become co-creators of their experiences. A key to really succeeding with such projects is having quality high-impact content.
Engage, Share and Interact
One of Silicon Valley most respected Digital Analysts, Brian Solis has been advocating that the future of business will depend on creating shared experiences and connecting to aspirations. Bringing that to the Retail environment, we should understand and embrace how connected consumers engage, share and interact. That means retailers should rethink how information is presented and consumed to trigger emotional responses – either from someone in the store or everyone digitally connected and influenced by that person.
According to analytics firm ForeSee Results, about 70% of consumers use a mobile phone while shopping (talking to friends, comparing prices and sharing information on social media). This should not be perceived only as a threat, but also as an opportunity, since brands can play around and extend shopping experiences, they can blur the borders of reality and virtual environments. Highly connected consumers can take word of mouth to viral scale using Social Media – and that brings positive outcomes for both online and physical sales.
In conclusion, although traditional stores need to evolve with the revolution of highly connected people, Retail shouldn’t be resistant to technological innovation. On the contrary, brands which embrace and understand consumers behaviour and aspirations will have a bright and profitable future ahead.