More and more people are turning to the Internet to shop. Worldwide e-commerce sales are likely to increase by 20.1% this year to reach $1.500 trillion, according to an eMarketer report. As point and click shopping gathers momentum, brick and mortar shops are feeling the heat. However, Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru feels that physical shops are nowhere close to extinction as scope for in-store innovation is plenty:
Stores of the future will be more about services, like day care, veterinary services and beauty services. Services that connect online and offline shopping could increase as well, with more drive-thru pickup and order-online, pick-up-in-store services.
In order to sustain, the offline retail industry is constantly looking at ways to retain and attract customers. Here are some innovative examples that are enhancing the in-store shopping experience and making it more exciting:
1. Order from the runway
Burberry announced their new interactive feature ‘Runway Made to Order’ last year. The customer can order her favorite pieces using a phone app straight from the catwalk. Through this personalised service, clothes are delivered in nine weeks along with personalised engraved nameplates. As an added feature, Burberry introduced ‘Smart Personalisation’. This feature takes the client behind the scenes to see the making of their chosen outfit, right from the sketch, thus adding to the customer experience. See the glamorous video where the smart mirrors in their flagship store show the making of a Burberry coat:
2. No nosy salesmen
A great example of digital innovation is by the technology company Hointer. They have created a test store in Seattle to showcase a new technology that massively upgrades the consumer experience. The test shop has no sales assistants, no confusing pile of clothes and no endless lines. The entire process of shopping requires no human intervention. See how this mother daughter duo, after having a bad online experience, turn to the store to get just the right assistance:
3. Store and consumers communicate via apps!
Microsoft saw the opportunity in enhancing interactive physical store experiences. They teamed up with IdentityMine to design Touch Retail Map, an app that allows shoppers to browse the inventory before they actually visit the store. The app gives the shopper a virtual tour of the store and lets them create a shopping list beforehand.Customers can also check-in on the app to alert the store staff of their arrival. Staff can then reach out to shoppers via intra-app messages in order to offer help and expertise. See how you could learn about the best deals and make a smart selection beforehand:
4. Now, know your perfect size
Every brand’s size measurement system is different therefore to know which size would fit well when trying out a particular brand can get confusing. To solve this problem, Me-Ality -a full body scanner – tells you in ten seconds exactly what size and style fits best among various ready-to-wear brands. The size-matching station is operational in select Bloomingdale outlets. Here’s a video to show how it works:
5. No changing rooms. No disrobing
British digital agency Engage has created a Virtual Style Pod that scans shoppers and projects their life-size image onto a digital platform. The shoppers were able to try out different outfits in the full glare of the public, without the need to visit the trial room or disrobe. The system projects a full body image of the shopper that then tries clothes generated by a stylist. Watch the system being tested at The Galleria in Abu Dhabi: