Retailers are turning to modern technology to rectify common issues for shoppers.
It was only a matter of time before augmented reality surfaced in a ‘real world’ environment and it has found a way into the retail arena. Augmented reality has the capability to allow shoppers to see what they would look like wearing in-store clothing and potentially reduce queues for changing rooms as it is all done with a click of a button in front of a screen. Customers will soon be able to try a multitude of items on in a short space of time.
Now that we all carry mobile phones, retailers are looking to utilise this by allowing customers to adjust the lighting in stores to suit. This will allow customers to try on a piece of clothing and get an ideal view of what it looks like by adjusting the lighting by the mirror. While this is occurring, the retail store is collecting this data so that future fitouts can already be fitted with what is optimum lighting, based on the most common setting customers chose with their mobile phones.
At Amazon’s first physical store, there is no check-out at all. Instead, shoppers swipe their Amazon app upon entry, their smartphones track what item they leave the store with and it is charged back to their Amazon Prime accounts.
Retailers are also encouraging shoppers to take photos while in-store so they can share their shopping experience on social media. This is to obtain what is essentially, free marketing for the store, with a high possibility that the customer’s social media friend base is their target market.
Customer engagement is key for retail stores and some are now encouraging customers to engage with their brand – no purchase necessary. Activewear company Lululemon hosts yoga classes in some of their North America and UK stores, and Nike hosts cross training classes. Some of these concepts have now been implemented in New Zealand with Nike introducing NRC (Nike + Run Club), Adidas Run Club and Lululemon Community Yoga.
Some retailers have recognised the importance of shopping as an experience and included in-store cafes. It is all about brand experience and if the coffee is good and the atmosphere is right there’s a good chance, customers will return.
Self-service checkouts have been in New Zealand supermarkets for some time. However, overseas they are also starting to creep into stores like Zara, with the objective being to minimize queuing time.
German sportswear giant, Adidas, this year kicked off a new retail trend with a pop-up store in Berlin. The store allows customers to design their own sweater. Known as ‘Knit-for-You’, the pop-up store lets customers design their own sweater, which is then knitted on-site with merino wool in under four hours.
The ‘Knit-for-You’ concept is currently an experiment by Adidas. Head of retail at JLL Germany, Dirk Wichner, says, “Standard sales channels involve purchasing products that are delivered to stores several months after the design phase. It’s a challenge for designers to predict upcoming trends.”
At present it takes Adidas 12 to 18 months to get products from the design stage to stores. The customisation concept is predicted to bring financial benefits to Adidas, who currently sell less than 50 percent of its products at full price, but is looking to raise this figure to 70 percent.
As brands get smarter about attracting customer spend, the basics still apply. Stores need to be current with a positive brand image, have an online presence and good opportunities to purchase.