Do you love shopping for clothes or hate it with a passion?
“In this Article, Josh Nicholson, a senior consultant at Capgemini, explores how retailers can provide a far more engaging digital experience in-store”
I fit into both the love and hate categories at the same time. I love browsing shops to look for things that spark my interest, sometimes with only a vague idea of what I am looking for.
I hate looking for the right size, queuing for the changing room, trying the clothes on, finding another size and then queuing to buy them. Many-a-time I have walked out of a shop because I wasn’t willing to queue to pay; that’s a real missed opportunity for a company.
Many of these problems can be solved using relatively simple technology.
Let’s take the size issue. A shop can obviously only stock a limited number of size/colour combinations for a given product. How infuriating is it when you can find the right size but not the colour or vice versa? Such a disappointment.
What if I could simply scan the barcode with my smartphone, go straight to the retailer’s web page and order exactly the size and colour I want? I’d almost undoubtedly do that and immediately feel much happier about my shopping experience, probably browsing the rest of the store with a much more favourable attitude.
That’s the first issue solved. Plus, as a bonus, I don’t have to wander around town looking like a pack horse with multiple paper bags that tend to break when it rains.
So, let’s take the second issue of payment. I hate queueing to pay, especially on Oxford Street on a Saturday; it often takes more time than choosing and trying on clothes.
It is unclear why more stores have not yet adopted the principles that Apple created about three years ago when they launched EasyPay – a way to scan a barcode with your iPhone,  pay for that item and then simply walk out of the shop.
Apple are again leading the way for mobile payments in-store with their new iPhone 6 and rumours of a collaboration with Nordstrom allowing users to use the new iPhone 6 to pay for goods in the shop by simply touching the phone to the Point of Sale unit.
These are two of my bugbears when it comes to shopping on the high street which have already been solved by technology, and are now just awaiting wider adoption by more retailers.
If we look to more cutting-edge technology that retailers are currently experimenting with, then iBeacons come to mind. This is Apple’s version of low-energy Bluetooth proximity sensing technology. It enables a smartphone or other devices to perform actions when it comes in range of a specific iBeacon. It can also be used as a form of internal GPS, enabling a smartphone to determine its location in a shop, for example.
Retailers, like Macy’s in the US, are rolling out iBeacons in their stores that will allow customers to access location-specific deals, discounts, and recommendations throughout the store.
Apple have also announced that the Apple Watch has full iBeacon compatibility and can, for example, alert you to a new coffee that Starbucks has launched just as you walk past a store.
This is a really big win for marketers as they are always looking to engage customers at exactly the right time and in the right place; the so called moment of truth. Being able to target customers as they are walking past your shop, or as they approach certain display stands in your shop offers marketers a really powerful way to engage with the customer at a time when they are most receptive.
The Apple Watch now also closes the loop by adding payment via NFC to the equation. This means that, for example, I could be notified of a new coffee while walking past my local coffee shop, decide to pop in to try it and pay for that via NFC. From a marketer’s point of view this would be fully trackable and traceable as a successful conversion.
In summary, I believe there is a significant way for most retailers to go to fully adopt a digital shopping experience. There are some really quick wins around easy payment via mobile and ordering stock online from within the shop. Implementing these two ideas should significantly increase mobile usage while in a store and as part of the shopping experience.
Once this is achieved and people are looking at their screen while shopping there is even more scope for intelligent marketing based on location in store. Combine this with the ability to pay with your phone and you create an ecosystem of marketing, sales and service that all seamlessly integrate during an in-store experience. Superior ability to catch and sell to people in that moment of truth will set brands apart from other brands and is exciting for both the company and the consumer.