How Digital Technology Will Encourage Consumers Back In-Store
A lot has changed since early 2020. COVID-19 has altered the way we do just about everything. This past year, we’ve embraced (and at times wished we could reject) working from home, homeschooling, and even virtual visits with our healthcare practitioners. The retail landscape is no different. Retail stores are recognizing our increased desire for convenient shopping and as such, many have started providing permanent new shopping experiences that are technology-based and immersive.
In some cases, these options exist to help consumers feel a bit safe while shopping during a global pandemic while in others, they exist to enhance the customer experience or promote online presence for the retailer.
Below, we’ve listed some of the best examples of in-store technology that have cropped up since COVID-19 became a part of our everyday lives.
1. The Burberry Social Retail Store in Shenzen
In July 2020, Burberry opened its first social retail store. This store combines its luxury brand with social media to provide shoppers with a gamified immersive experience. Using the WeChat app, customers can discover products, scan QR codes in the store and book appointments, which results in an accumulation of virtual currency which is used to hatch and grow an animal character as they move throughout the store.
2. Smart Vending Machines By & Other Stories
Another tech-forward retain event this past summer was the release of & Other Stories’ smart vending machines, which is featured in the company’s Paris-based flagship store. This machine enables customers to explore available beauty and fragrance products, obtain samples, and make purchases without the need to interact with associates or head to the cash register.
3. The Nike House of Innovation 000 Speed Shop
While the Nike House of Innovation 000 opened in 2018 (or pre-COVID, as we’re calling it now), its Speed Shop was certainly ahead of its time, offering contactless shopping before we even knew what contactless meant. This shop offers customers the opportunity to reserve shoes that can be tried on in-store. After placing the reservation, shoes are placed in a locker with the customer’s name that can be unlocked using the Nike smartphone app. Customers can also use the app to customize their shoes and purchase them without ever speaking to a salesperson.
4. Amazon Go’s Unmanned Stores
You’ve probably heard about Amazon Go by now. It uses a high level of technology to create a convenient shopping experience that enables customers to simply walk into a store and grab what they need without checking out or paying for their products in person. Using computer vision, deep learning, and sensor fusion, Amazon Go is able to determine which products have been removed from the shelves, recognize who the customer is and automatically charge their Amazon account.
5. Marks & Spencer’s Traveling Pay With Me Program
At more than 200 Mark’s & Spencer stores throughout the UK, customers can now skip the queue and pay on-the-spot by finding an M&S staff member with a handheld checkout device. These devices can be used to check out customers who are paying with cards or Apple Pay and enable those at the cash registers to get through line ups faster and more efficiently.
6. Augmented Reality Displays in Zara
In select Zara stores throughout the world, customers can now use their smartphones to view window and in-store displays in AR. Throughout these stores, customers are directed to stand in a specific spot in the store or outside of it and use their smartphone camera to view live-action modeling of the store’s most recent items.
7. Robotic Cleaners in Sam’s Clubs
In a world where clean is everything and social distancing is the new normal, robots that clean are a definite game-changer. At Sam’s Club stores across the country, customers are seeing the company’s new robotic floor scrubbers, provided by Brain Corp. These robotic floor scrubbers are accompanied by shelf analysts that can detect low stock levels, locate product locations, and verify prices.