The ease of shopping online has brick-and-mortar stores focusing on their in-store customer experience to keep shoppers coming back. From remerchandising their shelves to introducing new technology, there are many ways to refresh their look. Steve Jones explores this trend with Chain Store Age:
What’s going to keep people coming back to physical store locations, as comfort levels with e-commerce rise every year? Savvy retailers are fighting technology with technology, refreshing the look and feel of their stores by integrating more gadgets, and using data in a more integrated way to inform strategy.
Technology is helping stores provide shoppers with a personalized experience. For example, Macy’s recently announced a series of initiatives to better connect its digital and brick-and-mortar businesses. And after a successful pilot, the department store retailer has rolled out iBeacon technology across all its stores, enabling customers to receive personalized department-level deals, discounts and rewards.
Meanwhile, Bloomingdale’s is reducing dressing room stress by offering Apple iPads mounted to the wall: When a customer scans an item in the dressing room to the iPad, she can check for other colors or sizes — and alert an associate to bring in new options.
Other retailers are experimenting with augmented reality, such as virtual dressing rooms and makeup mirrors that take pictures of the customer and show how different cosmetic products would look on them.
Creating a more interactive experience like this for customers helps to combat points of frustration in the stores. Knowing that long lines can be a point of tension, for example, tablets can be used to take customer payments and can also empower sales associates with deeper information about products and inventory.
In some cases, a more dramatic physical renovation may be necessary. AMC, the national chain of more than 350 movie theaters, wanted to offer movie-streaming customers a compelling reason to get out of their house and come back to the theater.
To transform the movie-going experience, AMC installed living room-like seating, updated food and beverage services, and gave customers the ability to reserve seats online. The result was dramatic: AMC now sells more tickets with fewer seats — to sold-out audiences.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is another example of an established brand that was in need of a more modern touch to improve the shopping experience for service members and their families. When it launched a prototype new store concept with its new brand identity, The Exchange, at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, there was a sustained lift in sales across all departments.
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