Convenience and customization appear to be the touchstones of a successful consumer retail experience, if GDR Creative Intelligence’s research is anything to go by.
Joining us, along with Spayne Lindsay & Co, was GDR’s Meredith Smith, giving an engaging presentation on how current tech trends might be better leveraged to meet the needs of today’s consumers.
So, what exactly are the needs of today’s consumers?
Drawing on a few recent case studies from some of the world’s biggest brands, Smith proved that what consumers want is convenience and a customised retail experience, though without compromising their spending freedoms.
Kicking off the discussion was a somewhat startling figure in the form of Amazon’s outbound shipping figures which, from 2006 to 2014 amounted to $4.49 billion US dollars in revenue, but $8.71 billion in total. What this indicates is a strong trend in consumers taking advantage of the online marketplace’s free returns policies which might also suggest a sense in confidence Amazon’s customers have when shopping online.
Convenience aside, GDR’s research also highlighted the consumer desire, not only for customisation, but for retail relationships through their shopping experiences.
THE VIP TREATMENT
Promoting brand loyalty through an exclusive ‘reservation portal’ like Adidas did with their Confirmed app, allowed customers to reserve a pair of a range of ‘exclusive’ sneakers via doing little more effort than setting up an account, clicking a button and picking up their shoes in-store. It’s the street cred of the latest sneakers without the need to line up outside the store for hours in advance, though the limited exclusivity of the sneakers on offer also helps impart a premium experience for only those ‘most loyal’ customers.
The ubiquity of mobile devices – an additional limb to many consumers – has highlighted to retailers the importance of customising mobile shopping experiences. The Australian contingent of the global Domino’s brand launched their ‘pizza mogul’ app which enabled customers the ability to design their own pizzas and even profit off the popularity of their creations.
ELIMINATING POST-PURCHASE REGRET
But if the future of retail isn’t completely online, how can retailers ensure the experience doesn’t end when their customers leave the high street store?
In answering this, Smith introduced Sephora’s post-purchase solution, a microsite dedicated to tutoring consumers on how to apply contouring-style makeup from the comfort of their own home. Pocket Contour Class is available via mobile access only and aimed to avoid the consumer disappointment which often occurs when taking home products for the first time without the help of the in-store experts.
More technology-based innovations like Pizza Hut’s restaurant eye-tracking menu and Las Vegas’ Project 100 group’s transport rental scheme SHIFT aim to help make the consumer decision-making process easier with the provision of highly intuitive digital offerings.
Others, like Barclay’s ‘contactless glove’, offer graceful solutions to customer annoyances (i.e. having to take one’s gloves off to pay for things in winter), whilst also encouraging positive brand associations and loyalty – why reach for another card when you have your barclaycard literally attached to you?
Robotic systems in a retail environment can help extinguish retail workers’ alleged unconfidence in the products they’re selling.
Smith then pointed to some stats which indicated a huge proportion of retail workers possess a lack of confidence in their knowledge of and ability to sell the products in their workplaces. In this way, certain retail technologies – like robotics – could not only help consumers, but help those behind the counter too.
So how do we, INITION, fit into this landscape? We’ve made it our goal to demystify this type of seemingly complex technology so that the average retail executive can approach us and we can supply a tailor-made solution to meet their unique needs.
The future direction of retail technology and experiences depends on both, the type of brand in question, but also the type of technology available. Some, like augmented reality, can enable consumer retail experiences that are accessible from the home whilst others, like virtual reality, are far better suited to controlled environments where they can be overseen by experts (like us). Either way, we see the tech landscape as being broad enough to include solutions to any and every problem, query, situation or annoyance — all it takes is a little imagination.