Digital disruption has had ripple effects on brick-and-mortar retail. That’s no secret. But the store is far from dead.
Despite the news of store closures happening all around the country, over 90% of retail sales still happen in the store, according to a 2017 Census Bureau analysis. In order for brick and mortar to flourish in the face of all this disruption, retailers need to view digital as an opportunity rather than a challenge. They need to blend the worlds of digital and physical to provide seamless experiences to consumers wherever and however they are enaging with the brand.
Below we take a look at a handful of companies that are using digital within their stores in unique and interesting ways. They will surely have a hand in shaping the store of the future.
Nike’s SoHo store introduces a whole new level of in-store engagement. The store is broken down into three custom-built multi-user, multi-touch terminals. The first, “Nike+ Basketball Trial Zone,” is on the fifth floor and spans nearly an entire half court, with an adjustable hoop and 23-foot ceilings. Shoppers can shoot hoops, test basketball shoes, and do custom drills with the guidance of in-store certified athletes. The area is surrounded by high-definition screens to immerse consumers in the sights and sounds of iconic New York basketball courts.
The Nike+ Running Trial Zone is located on the first floor for women and on the third floor for men. It allows consumers to test out shoes on a treadmill. Through 90-second run segments, with screen options for Central Park and the West Side Highway, the consumer experiences Nike+ Run Club with Nike Pacers and real-time, on-screen feedback via two cameras.
The last zone, dubbed “Nike+ Soccer Trial Zone,” is located on the third floor and is a 400-square-foot trial area with a synthetic turf field floor. Consumers can try on Nike soccer cleats and receive one-to-one guidance from in-store certified personnel on product features and benefits.
Other cool digital features of the store include a one-of-a-kind personalization studio that allows consumers to laser engrave and print iconic NYC symbols on products. There are also digital checkout stations in the dressing rooms.
Rebecca Minkoff stores in Manhattan and San Francisco aim to translate many of the benefits of the online shopping experience to brick and mortar.
Upon arrival at the store, shoppers are able to check in using the Rebecca Minkoff mobile app, which sends their personal profiles to store associates to help provide a more personal, customized experience.
A “connected wall” in the store showcases Minkoff content, such as runway shows, photos, and all of the neat content being shared across the brand’s social media channels. Consumers can tap on the wall to initiate an interactive experience, where they can browse the latest looks, find products they like, and even request a fitting room. Shoppers can even use the wall to order drinks and to download the Rebecca Minkoff mobile app.
“Connected fitting rooms” transform mirrors into interactive screens. The rooms use RFID to recognize all items in the fitting room and identify other sizes and colors available in the store, as well as provide personalized recommendations based on what consumers have already brought in to try on. If the shopper needs a different size in a dress she is trying on, a simple touch of the mirror submits the request to a store associate.
Lowe’s is testing robots in stores to help customers find goods they are searching for. LoweBot is almost like a rolling kiosk that not only helps customers look up the products they are looking for, but escorts customers to where products can be found in the store.
According to the company, “LoweBot will add a layer of support to amplify the trusted advice of Lowe’s employees as it helps customers with simple questions, enabling more time for employees to focus on delivering project expertise and personalized service. Having the ability to scan inventory and capture real-time data with LoweBot will also help detect patterns or gaps that will ultimately influence business decisions.”
LoweBot was developed through a partnership between Lowe’s Innovation Labs and Fellow Robots, a Silicon Valley-based technology company specializing in the design and development of autonomous service robots.
A patent filed by Walmart indicates that the retail giant is developing facial recognition technology that will be used in stores to gauge whether customers are frustrated or happy with the in-store experience.
The idea is if the system detects that a customer is unhappy or feeling frustrated, a store associate will be notified and can help alleviate the customer’s frustration.
“It’s easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones through advertising,” the patent filing for the facial recognition technology says. “Often, if customer service is inadequate, this fact will not appear in data available to management until many customers have been lost. With so much competition, a customer will often simply go elsewhere rather than take the time to make a complaint.”
Toms shoes, the brand that donates one pair of shoes to children in need for every pair that’s bought, is currently using virtual reality in 100 of its stores.
Equipped with Samsung virtual reality headsets, Toms stores allow visitors to immerse themselves in a 360-degree video of children at a Peruvian school getting shoes as part of the brand’s “one-for-one” mission. It’s one thing to know that you’re contributing to a cause and another to see the actual impact.