The sheer endless variety of Internet shops is putting the pinch on many areas of stationary retail trade. At the same time, however, digital technologies allow retail companies to transform shopping in a store environment into a thrilling experience. The secret to success lies in smart integration of the online and offline worlds. The digital agency Razorfish uses its innovative store environment Razorshop to show how it can work in practice.
Our everyday lives are interlaced with digital technologies that often substantially influence our shopping behaviour, which is why retail trade companies have to adapt intelligently to this development in order to secure their long-term success. Digital transformation is the order of the day. After all, today’s customers are also constantly looking to satisfy their ‘always on’ needs as they shop, whether it’s for goods or services. This takes offline stores beyond their role of a simple place of transaction, replacing them with realms where customers are invited to experience, and not just purchase, their brands.
Technology with added value
So how does one go about transforming the traditional act of buying items into an innovative shopping experience? To understand this process, it is important to grasp the inherent significance of digital transformation, which far exceeds mere digitisation of the sales process. Instead, it revolves around the needs of the customer. The use of digital technologies creates added value, and consumers experience the amenities of the digital world inside the real-life store. Here are some examples to show precisely how it works:
- Beacons and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)
For the first time, these two technologies recognise customers the minute they enter or linger in the store. The added value: instead of pestering the customer with advertising, the company can address their individual preferences, for instance by displaying a personalised message on the screen, or by making a car headlight ‘wink’ at prospective customers.
- Modern display technology
Large-format screens replace stands and shelves otherwise used for product presentation. The added value: customers can inspect, experience and purchase objects, irrespective of their physical presence in the store. This applies just as much to premium products. An example of this is found in Audi City, a fully digitised car showroom located in Berlin and in many other cities of global standing. In a way, it provides infinite sales space, and retailers are no longer compelled to stock goods according to ‘supply and demand’.
- Visual search
Instead of keying in a search request, customers take a photo of the product that has caught their eye, which they then order. The added value: it can be fairly arduous to type in text, particularly on small smartphone screens. Visual searches are fun, and make the entire shopping experience easier for customers. The iOS app CamFind and the Android app Google Goggles already cater to this application scenario. Visual searches are also among the key features of the Amazon smartphone Fire.
Sensor technology revolutionises the way we visualise our relationships with products. The added value: customers can use gadgets like the ‘Oculus Rift’ VR glasses to give products a virtual spin or to ‘try them on’ before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
The digital world becomes real
This brief introduction, which is by no means complete, plainly demonstrates the richly diverse digital toolbox available to retail brands. The crucial aspect in transforming these tools into a well-oiled, captivating retail experience is their smart deployment in a real-life store. The digital agency Razorfish uses its digital store environment Razorshop to demonstrate how this works in practice.
Razorshop is a showcase for digital transformation in the retail sector, as the development of this innovative omni-channel marketing solution did not focus on altering the acquired behavioural patterns of our fellow human beings. On the contrary, the aim was to use amenities found in the digital world to enhance the experience of shopping in a real-life retail outlet, and hence to create tangible added value. In this way, Razorshop lets consumers enjoy the best of both worlds.
A harmonious blend
This innovative development is a demo environment in which several cutting-edge technologies are intermingled to present a pioneering retail experience. Most of the components upon which Razorshop is built are in-house developments. They include the following products:
- 5D – for the seamless integration of various digital devices (mobile, tablet, digital signage)
- BLEEP – to enable indoor tracking of objects and locations (based on the Bluetooth low energy standard)
- Nexus Engine – a central overview of all customer information and interaction across every touchpoint and channel (in-store, online, CRM programs, call centre, among others)
Combining these applications within the Adobe Marketing Cloud is an extremely convenient way of presenting content displayed in the store. This means that Razorshop is maintained using precisely the same platform as the company’s own website, so no additional content management system is required, and there are no additional costs and effort involved in the maintenance of a separate platform. Indeed, content can be used simultaneously on the website and in the store.
Hands-on experience of digital transformation
Consumers can experience up close and personal how these components work together in the Razorshop digital store environment– both from the perspective of a sales assistant and the customer. The store’s BLEEP technology detects the Razorshop app installed on the customer’s smartphone as soon as they enter the store. Immediately it responds by sending personalised messages that customers receive on their smartphones, or are displayed on the large digital signage screens. This information may include special promotional offers and coupons, or recommended products that match the customer’s personal preferences.
Furthermore, the sales assistant is notified that the customer has arrived and can use a tablet to access a personal customer history, which provides him/her with a selection of personalised recommendations to the customer. The sales assistant can also track in real time the areas in the store where customers touch, try on and purchase more or fewer products. Ultimately, this allows the sales assistant to create an ideal layout for the shopping environment.
Razorshop also offers a range of features designed to help customers help themselves. For instance, a digital screen displays information on whether an item is clothing is available in the desired size. The system can also illuminate the shelf compartments where a certain product is located. The added value: Razorshop is entirely autonomous when it comes to the amount and format of installed hardware, granting store owners essentially unlimited opportunity to implement any kind of interior architecture concept. This digital environment is therefore suitable for any form of retail space (clothing, cars, among others) and for places where an enhanced experience can help users find their bearings, for instance at trade fairs, bus stops, city offices and much more.
This article was originally published in UPLOAD for dmexco. The Razorshop installation was also displayed at the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium