The retail space these days is constantly threatened by the invasion of e-commerce giants, while consumers prefer to choose the products as per their liking at their own convenience, instead of stepping out into the three-dimensional world and walking into a physical store. With e-tailers constantly trying to hog the limelight, with ads and offers, it is very easy to fall for one of these traps and wander off endlessly to search for products that you don’t need.
It is very difficult to make the consumers step out of their house, but if they do turn up at your retail outlet, it is very important to make their experience worthwhile. POS and branding at retail outlets inform the costumer but do not engage them. Games and activity stalls, engage but do not inform. Also, the age bracket comes into the picture, where it is normally observed that the kids are the ones who engage in these activities whereas the adults end up as spectators.
Retail outlets around the world are increasingly starting to change their approach towards competing with e-tailers. As opposed to taking them head-on, retail outlets are working on improving their overall customer experience. Concepts such as slow-shopping are becoming very popular, for example, grocery stores such as Wegmans have started to offer extensively prepared foods, seating areas and even a full-service restaurant in some of their outlets. Tiffany’s, on the other hand, focusses on innovation, while encouraging customers to try on products that are still in their developmental stages. Ducati encourages its customers to spend quality time at their showrooms, have relaxed conversations and meet up fellow ‘Ducatistas’ to share their respective riding experiences.
There are only a certain number of ways that these experiences can end up being appealing. Modern technology can be of great help to enhance these experiences, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can play a very important role in overcoming physical barriers while giving the consumer an immersive experience. Brands such as Electrolux, Grohe, Myntra, D’ décor have used these installations in their outlets to enhance the customer experience.
Electrolux, for example, wanted to aid their salesforce in order to serve the customers better. Xenium Digital developed an app that would scan a corresponding standee / Big Posters which would display all the relevant features of the product. This would ease the undue stress off the salesforce while the customer could dwell deeper into all the features that wished to know.
Grohe was finding it difficult to help their customers experience their shower systems and it was impossible for them to explain exactly what the experience of the product were. Xenium Digital created a virtual reality 3D cave system that with the help of 3D glasses would recreate a pre-selected sequence of shower systems, which would give the user an immersive experience without the need to go through the process of bathing but actually feel the experience of each feature of the shower itself.
D’décor had a wide selection of patterns and colours for their bedsheets, keeping the customer interested while going through their endless selection was very important. Xenium Digital provided an installation that used interactive 3D projection to display their choice on an actual bed. A Multitaction table and an interactive touchscreen would make the selection process easy.
Myntra has a tremendous online presence but the retail store that was opened in Bangalore had to have something different to make their store stand out and make the purchase experience fun. Xenium Digital installed state of the art digital solutions like outdoor LED screen ,multitaction (with marker detection), selfie corner (combined with ramp) and touch displays, helped successfully frame strategy to provide a seamless, omni-channel experience to our customers.
One could choose the products on-display that they actually wanted to purchase and add it to the cart using the Multitaction display that would identify the products with the help of the QR code markings. After making the payment they could instantly walk out with the products without having to wait for them to be delivered. It was fascinating to experience the world of online fashion and retail store coming together. The stimulating experience of clicking on a digital touchscreen interface and leave with an actual product.
These are some instances where ‘Retail Tech’ based experiences have made their way into the world we live in and they will only get better with the years to come.
(The author is CEO & Managing Director at Xenium Digital Pvt. Ltd.)