Retailer going high-tech to bring shoppers back to stores
The use of technology in our lives is increasing tenfold. When it comes to shopper marketing the best of innovations have made their mark making every one asking for more. Here’s a look at some new technologies and innovations hitting the market world over, giving a glimpse of where the future of shopper marketing is headed.
Retailers hoping to lure back consumers shopping on the Web and via mobile devices have found a new weapon: interactive technology designed to bring the functionality of the Web to their stores. “Basically, I see this as an evolution that will change the way people shop,” said Chris Aubrey, vice president of retail marketing for the global shoe company Adidas.
Adidas is one of dozens of retailers using technology to create in-store kiosks or monitors to give shoppers all of the information and f lexibility of the Internet inside the real world of brickand-mortar stores.
Retailers are getting a glimpse into the future of their industry at the National Retail Federation’s annual show here. Technology companies, including chip maker Intel, displayed innovations meant to help Merchants Bridge the gap between traditional in-store retailing and the Web.
Some interactive kiosks give out free candy samples based on gender. Other devices include a large wall of monitors where shoppers can play games with chef Wolfgang Puck while buying his products from television shopping network HSN.
The main function of this type of technology, which in many cases is several years from being in mass use, is to allow a consumer to interact with a product as he or she would online at home, but in the actual store.
“We’re very, very interested in how shoppers are buying” whether it is in stores, online or using mobile technology, said Michael J. Tobin, senior vice president of omnichannel strategy for department store retailer Macy’s.
The retailer has installed Macy’s Beauty Spot touch-screen stations at four of its stores, including one at the Tysons Corner Center in Northern Virginia.
The stations help shoppers find the right beauty products by inputting their personal needs and preferences. Customers then can email themselves a list of items or purchase the merchandise from an in-store concierge who is equipped with a tablet computer.
“The future of retailing is here,” Tobin said.
In Brazil, the fuel and convenience store chain Petrobras recently opened a state-of-the-art station that identifies drivers pulling up to the pump using radio-frequency identification devices installed in vehicles.
Advertising messages directly target the driver as a way to lure the person into the store. The goal is to increase revenue inside the store.
Adidas’ Aubrey said the interactive kiosk installed at the shoe company’s main London store for two weeks in November showed strong results.
The large wall unit, called the adiVERSE Virtual Footwear Wall, lets shoppers view a product, get videos and sizing information and learn real time updates on what others are saying about the product from Twitter.
Adidas used the display to promote its new adizero f50 micoach shoe, which wasn’t out at the time. Sales at that store — including advanced orders for the shoe and other items — were five times higher than other stores, Aubrey said.
For a display to be effective, however, its needs to create an entirely different experience than what a consumer will find on the Web or via mobile devices, experts said.
While some of the information will overlap, the technology needs to differentiate itself and give the shopper an entirely new experience — beyond a typical store and the Web.
One way that some of the emerging technology can do that is by identifying and tailoring messaging to the shoppers.
Kraft is doing that with two machines in the U.S. — in Chicago and New York — that can identify someone’s age and gender as he or she approaches the units, then offer a free sample based on the customer profile.
Retailers are doing all they can to “keep the attention of the consumer,” said Ed McCabe, national sales manager for consumer electronics manufacturer Panasonic.
“Once they get you in the store, they want to get your business,” he said.
For a company to do well in the modern marketplace, experts say that mobile, Web and in-store elements and employees need to interact seamlessly.
David Jaffe, CEO of the Ascena Retail Group, which owns retailers Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice, said a smart retailer will take advantage of its options.
“The best retailers will merge all three,” Jaffe said. “Customers don’t seek channels. They seek solutions.”
In a recent report by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte, emerging technology has dramatically changed consumer behavior.
“While the store experience will remain important for many shoppers, it’s a far cry from the role it once enjoyed when a physical store was the only place where a merchant and customer could connect. Stores are now becoming just one part of a larger, more connected experience,” Deloitte said in a report titled “The Next Evolution: Store 3.0.”