- Created: 18 October 2017
The beginning of the year saw media headlines like ‘Retail apocalypse sweeps America’. The headlines were swiftly followed by speculation about the European market. Because one thing we know is that everything happens in the US first before it reaches us in Europe. There was talk of the feared tipping point at which e-commerce would reach a certain percentage of our total consumption. Amazon was singled out as the major villain and, in Europe, Zalando could be a potential candidate. Just over a month ago, a new study was published that banishes the myth of the retail apocalypse. The study shows that the number of retail stores in the US increased in 2017. The retail trade is undergoing a process of major change, and the winners will be those who embrace change and innovation and focus on the customer experience. Greater digitization of physical stores both simplifies and enhances the customer experience.
Debunking the Retail Apocalypse
Rumours of a US retail apocalypse are over after a study by IHL (a US research firm specializing in technologies for the retail trade), Debunking the Retail Apocalypse. 1,804 chains with more than 50 stores were studied. The study shows an increase of 4,000 stores, with the number rising to 10,000 new stores when small stores are also included. In the spring, we heard news that shopping malls in the US were becoming empty. The reason for this is that the major chains have learned to reduce their losses fast by leaving unprofitable malls. When a major chain decides to move, it starts a chain reaction that can affect the entire mall. More stores decide to go, and suddenly the mall is empty, ‘retail apocalypse’.
Physical stores are being transformed into experience centres
The retail trade has been focusing on customer experience for many years, and now more than ever. Customers need a reason to visit a store. Stores need to be able to answer the question “What’s in it for me?” Shopping has become more individual, and we have different needs and expectations when we visit stores. Some want to take their time and enjoy the shopping experience. Others want to get it over with fast, with minimum hassle. Greater digitization of physical stores makes it possible to meet both needs innovatively.
Several major brands have decided to open flagship stores in New York that create extraordinary customer experiences.
Nike assumes that customers want a more immersive customer experience. The treadmills are in front of a huge wall of monitors that make customers feel as if they are running in Central Park. Customers are filmed running and get automatic suggestions for shoes to match their running style. There are large digital monitors in several places on the various floors of the store. These monitors provide product information, market events and can be used to customize products.
Ralph Lauren offers interactive mirrors in the changing cubicles. They are designed to function as the customer’s personal shopper. Garments are scanned and then displayed on the mirror. Customers are shown the colours and sizes available, plus suitable accessories.
Themed stores are a new trend, with products and brands being adapted to the theme chosen. Digital signage makes it possible to change the atmosphere in these stores fast and easily.
The digital customer journey from mobile to physical store
The customers of today are mobile and active in several channels at the same time. Digital presence in many different channels means that they are often well-informed and know what they want. What physical stores need to do is create a deeper customer experience to enhance the brand and let customers discover new products. They will become showrooms to a greater extent, as the purchasing process will take place digitally.
For example, a showroom for e-tailers will be opening in Stockholm soon. Customers will have the opportunity to touch and feel branded products. Visitors can contact the e-tailers’ customer service departments via video calls. The business concept is based on an omnichannel approach in which online stores are integrated with the actual products.
Greater digitization in the retail trade permits a more personalized customer experience, creates an attractive environment and ensures seamless integration with digital sales channels.
Please contact us:
The retail trade is undergoing an exciting process of change in which digitization is an important success factor. At MultiQ, we would welcome the opportunity to help you create an in-store environment that offers your customers a real experience and enhances your integration with them. We look forward to hearing from you.
+46 10 211 66 11
With this blog we want you to discover the many possibilities of digital signage.