Now that shopping can be made anytime, anywhere, consumers need more reasons to visit a store. With technology breathing new life into retail stores,the magic rule is winning screens equals to winning hearts and embracing the ‘smart age’ consumers.
On the bright walls of a ‘smart’ store of Max, a wide LED screen welcomes its customers. In one click, it will introduce the customer to the brand’s season collection, and in the other, it will help the customer find his/her right size from the right shelf. And that’s not all, if the size or the colour is unavailable, it will help the customer find it from the right store and get it home delivered.
For most customers, especially the millennial, shopping begins online and the primary influence of their purchase decision is online ratings and reviews, but not the store sales associates, whose knowledge and experience cannot be compared with the information available online. With such high demand for seamless connectivity, the future-ready retail stores should compulsorily be like a living and breathing website with experiential and virtual showrooms that will enable a try and test model, suggests JLL India MD (Retail Services) Pankaj Renjehn.
“Mobile phones have turned into remote control for shopping and the simple rule is winning screens is equal to winning hearts. The true front door to a retail store isn’t the mall, but the place where customers first interact with a brand online. Hence, technology will play a key role in attracting with customers and further bringing them to retail stores,” he says.
Embracing the ‘smart consumers’
It’s no doubt that smartphones have crossed the geographical borders of urban and tier I cities, and are finding a predominant market in tier II cities. As the smartphone penetration strengthens, retailers have to rethink the whole purpose of retail space, Pankaj says.
“Some of the main factors that can attract the new age customers are collecting and providing information that creates efficiencies for shoppers in terms of price comparisons, peer ratings and in-store item locators. Also, offering digital concierges to customers and creating smart store kiosks will further enhance the digital experience within the store. Offering coupons and sales information to regular customers will only build the loyal customers’ base,” he recommends.
The era of click and collect
The most important ingredient for next generation malls is creating convenience to customers and ensuring delivery takes place at their doorstep. With USA and Hong being the highest consumers for click and collect, the trend has entered the Indian market and it is here to stay. And as per a study by ICSC last year, 69% of shoppers who used click and collect purchased additional items while picking up in store.
Commenting on the need for retailers to integrate technology with retail stores, Raghu Rajagoplan, COO, Max Fashion, says, “Seamless interface is the need of the hour and customers are looking at brands to introduce innovative ways to marry offline with online. With most of our customers being under the age bracket of 35, it made sense for us to introduce click and collect. Also, the demand for personalized look is also high and technology helps us achieve that.”
With voice assistants, digital concierges and touch screen racks slowly finding its way into the retail segment, get ready for a living and breathing store!