Rigid frontiers between physical and digital retail points have dissolved as consumers themselves are more connected and informed than ever before, thus becoming more demanding and alert in their always “on” commercial behavior. This on its own has led marketers to a heavy investment in the use of not only online & mobile commerce alternatives, but also digital & mobile techniques in store, creating a trend amongst the “ivy league” of retailers worldwide, who are opting for an omnichannel strategy and personalized mechanisms to reach their consumers and increase conversions.
However, along with the digitalization wave came the retail paradox between physical and digital points of sale, which translates into an unwarranted choice between comfort and trust, private experiences and personalized assistance. But what if this paradox could vanish? What if there didn’t have to be a debate between physical & digital? What if consumers could be offered all in one experiences? And let’s even take it a step further… what if retailers and marketers could actually be “invited” into the consumers’ mindset and reach them through mobile devices as they stroll along and make retail choices in store, evolving into a valuable shopping assistant rather than a unwelcome nuisance...
Amid the omnichannel buzz that is calling for diverse tools and techniques across platforms, brick and mortar stores still remain a focal point in retail strategies, given that a large volume of transactions still take place in store. The need for retailers now is to create an open line of communication with consumers without becoming overbearing.
The vision is here but what most retails are lacking is a successful and effective realization of this vision and the tools to make it happen.
Meanwhile, for consumers the hype is all about personalization of experiences on the one hand and being in control on the other. But consumers trust what they can see and touch more than what they cannot. So it is right there, within physical stores that lies the opportunity to create a connection through which consumers will be willing to enable location services, let you know their identity, their preferences, their habits and finally find their own personalized sales assistant.
Beacons are small pieces of hardware that have the ability to communicate with phones and other devices using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless networking technology, common today on all smartphones. This proximity-detection technology if adopted by customers in store directly offers retailers the opportunity to track movement and consumer behavior and thus gain insight about how customers interact with the physical environment. This is a true focal point, as it is the source of key information to develop strategies for great mobile experiences both within and outside of the retail store.
So once installed, all that is needed for the “magic” of Beacon technology to begin is to create an environment of trust so that consumers can opt- in. When a customer opts in and installs the retailer mobile app, Beacons pinpoint the exact location of a consumer’s smartphone and allow for a two way communication to begin. Data can be collected on customer preferences and behavior while at the same time, useful retail insight can be sent to consumers about products they may like, offers, new items, etc thus bridging the gap between online shopping and mostly anonymous in store shopping, where much needed insight on consumer behavior is lost .
Our guests were offered an ATCOM Next mobile application to download and beacons placed at the entrance of the event venue recognized visitors who had logged in with their Facebook or Linkedin account. Then, through projection mapping technology , a wooden craft a few steps further welcomed guests, displaying their name, their profile picture and the company they represented.
Furthermore, screens all around the event venue were constantly displaying the exact location of anyone with their Bluetooth enabled, interacting in real time with mobile phones that had downloaded the ATCOM Next mobile application giving them a glimpse of a real life omnichannel experience.
So what is the full potential of connected retail shops? How can we enhance the shopping experience of the-always-connected consumer visiting today’s brick and mortar stores?
Beacons technology can be used to fully track customer behavior. At the same time, when paired with the right CRM and Loyalty system can even let retailers know when their most profitable online customers are present so staff can recognize and treat them accordingly.
Integrated solutions offer endless possibilities of gaining insight on consumers and embedding them into targeted and effective multi-platform strategies.
The result? As long as you truly know your customer, any offer, any push notification on their mobile phone would always be perfectly targeted and useful for them, establishing a meaningful relationship with them.
Advantages of integrated retail technologies are endless even from a consumers’ standpoint. Retail technology becomes your personal shopping assistant, on call whenever you need it.
Picture this: You’re entering a shopping mall looking for a specific retail shop or visiting a new supermarket looking for a specific products aisle, all while in a great hurry. In a tech savvy retail point you could just open your mobile app, type in what you are looking for and the app would provide you with all the necessary information such as aisle location, floor, products available and photos.
Such innovative solutions can be implemented with the same success in smaller shops and large retail centers, enabling modern businesses to guide their clients to the right product, based on data collected in store, their exact location and their insight on consumer preferences, making shopping experience in a physical store easier, faster and more accessible.
At the end of the day, much like online, in store analytics are the key tool to help retailers analyze traffic and identify unique visits and returning visitors and build their strategy from the ground up. At the same time, beacon technology can help retailers deal with day to day practices such as decongest cashier queues during rush hours, track staff productivity, analyze the efficiency of product placement, understand if it is difficult for visitors to easily find what they are looking for etc.
ATCOM Next was a premiere for game changer technologies of the retail of tomorrow. Attendees not only had the opportunity to hear about them, but actually experience them first hand in a way that showcased how virtual information can apply to real world experiences and day to day practices. Material and digital space merged, creating a seamless blend that represented the evolution of retail through futuristic solutions.
Watching visitors embracing technology and getting familiar with the digitization of a physical environment through our installations was a truly remarkable experience that exceeded our expectations.
A point of focus for us, was also recognizing yet again the importance of trust. Despite the growing concerns regarding consumers’ data privacy, ATCOM Next came to prove that consumers can easily overcome their fear of personal data abuse, if they are promised trustworthy tailored experiences. We saw our guests willing to share their personal information (exact location and social media accounts) and even proved eager to enable their Bluetooth on their smartphones so as to gain access to the value-added services in offer that improved their mock up shopping experience.
Omnichannel strategy enables businesses to merge the online and the offline world, to turn anonymous traffic into identified consumers with certain needs, behaviors and expectations across all devices and channels in order to develop a 360 customer value offering.
It is now clearer than ever that digitization has permanently changed long-established buying patterns and customers have the power to make decisions on their own terms. The use of innovative technologies needs to be relevant to consumer needs whether this is increased convenience, product interactivity or better communication. In the near future, all channels will be part of an elevated holistic experience.