Revitalising the store to communicate in both the real and digital worlds
HOW IS RETAIL CHANGING?
Stores, especially in a retail system, are physical entities that hold a strategic position in a given territory, and are part of an integrated and integrable ecosystem. How are points of sale responding to the digitalisation of people’s everyday lives? And more importantly, how is the in-store brand–customer relationship changing?
Physical stores have become owned media for brands, serving as a meeting point of the real and digital worlds, for the brand, but also for present and future customers. Technology has disrupted traditional stores, turning them from simple points of sale into true Retail Experience Points and sources of Big Data collection. Using interactive objects, such as touchscreens and shelves, brands can start and/or continue a dialogue that forms part of the Customer Journey, and through Kinect, RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Beacons and interactive windows, the service provided by the brand responds to the user’s true needs, thus providing the best customer experience possible. Just as transparent shop windows are an architectural element that allow users to project themselves inside the store, smart windows provide access to the brand’s digital ecosystem through physical and interactive gestures, which creates connections with the same transparency as a physical window.
With mobile technologies increasingly integrated into people’s lives and the world around them, users now carry a digital ecosystem around in their pockets, one that revolves around real/virtual relationships, discoveries, curiosity, shopping experiences, conversations with the brand and opinions. Various engagement and dialogue actions can be performed and triggered at any time through brand communication across a range of mediums.
Smart windows are becoming the meeting point between the real and the virtual, where the brand can distribute content using schedules that are specially created and based around the daily events of both users (preferences based on their profiles) and the regular calendar (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Champions League final, etc.). In this way, brands open up to consumers, exposing content related to the in-store product and its value system.
This new Interaction Touchpoint is becoming a potential hub for entertainment, conversation/exchange, engagement and new users. With a suitable loyalty plan, brands can build increasingly tailored strategies, potentially supported by traditional activities, such as discounts, promotions and contests.
When users interact with the window, they share their behaviours and choices. Smart Windows can reveal various KPIs directly from the street by analysing information from pedestrian traffic, their interaction with the window and their behaviours in front of the store.
Smart Windows are just one component of a store’s complex digitalisation system, but as a junction where the real and virtual meet in the physical world, they need to be managed by a team with vertical expertise in totally different areas. As well as the design and implementation stages, the actual management of the window should not be underestimated, because human error can create serious challenges for the intended goals. It is therefore essential that in-store staff are properly trained.