Contrary to naysayers, I think it’s safe to say that we’re beyond the hotly debated and anticipated "retail apocalypse." However, tech-resistant brands that refuse to innovate still have the potential to be left behind. Those poised to survive (and thrive) in today’s retail marketplace are the retailers that embrace innovation and continuously engage customers in fresh, relevant ways. There are a number of consumer touchpoints to consider, from digital signage and kiosks to way-finding apps and interactive tablets that offer the ability to search online inventory and customize products.
So, what are some of the unique trends that emerged last year? We’ve seen a real drive for interactivity in-store, and it’s not just limited to the younger generation. Young and old alike are embracing interactive technology at an increasing rate, using digital platforms to navigate in-store experiences and explore at their own pace. Kendra Scott’s jewelry customizing Color Bar has been just as successful at targeting millennials as Jo-Ann Fabric’s tablets that target its tech-savvy customers seeking fresh patterns. The truth is, all brands want to expand their customer base. The successful ones are going to be those that don’t alienate their core customers, while still engaging a new crowd with experiential in-store marketing.
We’ve also seen “way-finding” apps beginning to emerge in retail. Target’s new smartphone technology allows its shoppers to tap into maps of its stores’ specific layouts, helping them to locate special deals and promotions along the way. Looking for the two-for-one Tide Pods promo? Simply open the app and follow the path to the specific Home Goods aisle shown on the screen. Everyone’s got a phone in their pocket these days, so it would behoove brands to look to leverage existing technology to help create frictionless in-store shopping experiences.
Touchscreens and Tablets
While we’ve already seen them cropping up in record numbers the past few years, interactive tablets and touchscreens aren’t going anywhere. In fact, we expect to see an even greater influx of tablets in the retail space. Playing into our proclivity for tactile, tangible experiences, touchscreens can be used in a multitude of ways. “Endless Aisle” has been hugely successful, offering shoppers the ability to both search limitless online inventory and customize products with a few simple swipes of a screen. Tablets can also be useful in back-of-house efforts such as employee training and stock checks as well as mobile checkout, like we’ve seen in Apple stores and, more recently, at Nordstrom stores nationwide. Delivering dual functionality for both employees and shoppers alike, interactive tablets create connection and allow for a deeper level of brand awareness and affinity.
No doubt, we’ll see the brick-and-mortar experience continue to evolve in 2019. The brands that are poised to thrive are those willing to adapt and implement interactive, emerging technology, whether cutting-edge way-finding apps, back-of-house digital signage, or interactive tablets. If brands can tap into the power of experiential retail marketing, they’ll inevitably empower customers, increase loyalty and up overall interaction. The key lies in creating unique environments that will keep customers coming back for more.
Jaime Bettencourt is the senior vice president of business development at Mood Media, the world’s leading in-store media solutions company dedicated to elevating the customer experience.
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Jaime Bettencourt is an accomplished senior-level sales & marketing leader with a proven ability to achieve double-digit revenue growth, recognized for designing world-class customer experiences for leading lifestyle and retail brands. She has a robust track record for leading teams and leveraging custom, complex in-store marketing, media and technology solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the retail space. Throughout Jaime’s 20 years at Mood Media, she’s been in various marketing, branding and sales leadership roles and has worked with global organizations to enhance in-store experiences through targeted brand initiatives and marketing strategies supported by customer insights and analytics. With expertise in managing portfolios of enterprise and mid-market clients, growth strategy, fostering c-level decision maker relationships, and designing profitability metrics and sales leadership, Jaime has developed into a true powerhouse.