Bricks and mortar stores have a lot of work to do if they’re going to compete with other stores on the high street, and especially with online shopping. One way to compete is to use technology to enhance your in-store experience.
Technology can be used to create experiences, to appeal to mobile users, make things for more convenient for shoppers, or to promote your online presence. Here are some ideas to use technology in your store design.
Use QR codes
Many stores have started to use QR codes as part of the design. These codes can be used to combine different elements of online and offline shopping in order to create a seamless experience.
While in-store, a customer can use their mobile phone to scan a QR code on your products in order to get more information. This could be information like sizes or other colors available, or information about where a good product was made, or more detailed allergen information. Payment can then be made through your app, which makes shopping very quick and convenient.
You could also use QR codes if you have an in-store cafe. Customers can scan the menu to find out more or to order, making things faster, and reducing the number of staff you need to serve people.
A great way to bring tech into your store, using commercial fit out companies, is to bring in some virtual styling tools. These are common in shops that sell eyewear, to make the process of choosing glasses easier.
A frame styler works via tablets in-store. An imaging software tool produces a 3D model of the customer’s face and then can select the glasses that suit their face shape, gender and age. Customers can try on multiple styles in 3D very easily, and compare different styles very quickly.
The same tech could be applied to all sorts of items, from clothes to accessories. These stylers could be used to making suggestions, and shorten the queues for the fitting rooms.
Make it easy for people to share content from your store. For clothing brands, a fantastic way to do this is in your fitting rooms.
Add smart mirrors to somewhere in the fitting room. When customers try something on, set it up so they can take a selfie, and immediately share it to their social networks. They can use this to get a second opinion on their outfit, and you can get some free advertising. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Make sure you social handles are displayed prominently and encourage people to take pictures while they’re in your store.
Everybody wants shopping to be faster and easier. If you can make it work, make your Click and Collect service even more high-tech. Allow your customers to order online and arrange to collect in store. Rather than make them head to another desk that you have to staff, take inspiration from the Nike store in New York.
Nike created a ‘Speed Store’. Customers order and pay for their items online. When they arrive to collect, they have a separate entrance, that leads to a bank of lockers. The customers scan the lockers with their phones and get access to the one that has their order ready and waiting inside.
This is a very convenient option for shoppers, as it’s fast, and they don’t have to queue at customer service or wait while someone hunts for their order in the back. Amazon Lockers work on a similar idea. Could you use something like this in your store to make collecting orders really easy?
For clothing stores, the fitting-room is a great place to bring in technology. As well as your smart mirror, consider making your lighting more adjustable.
Store lighting, with the overhead fluorescents, is famously unflattering, and it can be hard for customers to judge whether what they are trying on actually suits them, or how it will look for the occasion they plan to wear it.
Add some different lighting styles and add some simple buttons to switch between them. Include outdoor light, nightclub lighting, or lighting like bright sunshine, depending on the kind of clothing you sell.
Customers can change the lighting to get a clearer idea of how they will look, and they may be more tempted to buy.
Self-checkout has been common in supermarkets for a long time, but other retail industries have lagged behind. This is partly because it can be more complicated with security tags and similar issues, but it can be done.
Even if you only allow self-checkout for baskets under a certain value, this can still help to speed up queues and make things much faster and more convenient for customers who just want to dash into your store quickly to grab some essentials and don’t want to wait in a queue.
Mobile wallets and apps
If you already have an app, add a wallet functionality. Within your wallet, allow customers to load different payment options, so they can pay just by scanning their app. This is faster, as people are used to paying with their phones now, and are more likely to have their phone in their hand than their wallet.
A mobile wallet can also be great if you offer a loyalty scheme or a store card. With one scan, your customer can pay, and also automatically earn or spend any valid loyalty points without having to search for their store card or trying to work out what points they have earned so far.
Your app can be used to generate lots more sales as well as making things more convenient for your customers. Use push notifications to let customers know about offers or deals that they qualify for, or about things like sales or changes in opening hours.
Tie your app in with your store, by triggering location-based notifications if they’re nearby, to push products you think they’ll like based on past purchases. They can use the app in-store to scan those QR codes you put in, virtually look at products, share content with you automatically tagged in, or to pay for or order products.
Innovation through technology is a great way to improve your in-store experience for your customers and to help your store to stand out from the crowd. Great technology can make things more convenient or more fun (or both) for customers, as well as encouraging more and larger sales, which is great for you and for them.
You can use all this tech to track customer behavior, which gives you lot of great information about what works for your store, what products are most popular, and what changes you could make to encourage more sales. You can also use it to make managing stock and ordering new products easier.
By using something innovative, you also offer something that your customers may not have seen before. This will attract their attention and interest, making them more likely to want to try out your clever idea, and then tell people about it afterward if the experience is positive. This adds to your word-of-mouth marketing, as well as improving your in-store experience.
To add technology into your store, speak to a few different commercial fit-out companies, and ask what they are able to do for you. They may be able to suggest tech companies who make your high-tech ideas come to life that they have worked with before, and know they can combine with the more practical elements.