“If you never contemplate charging admission, chances are you will never create an experience worth an admission fee.”
B. Joseph Pine II
Imagine this scenario. A customer walks into your store. They’ve got your apps installed and all essential technologies powered up, but they still can’t find that outfit in your window. The customer walks out and you’ve lost a sale. This is a conundrum for many retailers, especially within the fast-fashion sector where the sales associates weren't able to find the desired products and they failed to suggest something similar.
Did you know that the average fashion-conscious customers will be more likely to purchase the whole outfit if it was displayed on the mannequin, rather than picking the pieces from across the shop floor?
Visual merchandising teams, on a daily basis, try to ensure the mannequin outfits are clearly visible from the customer’s viewpoint, with good stock depth and size availability. Sales staff are constantly updated with information regarding the position of the products and trends for them to capture the customer’s attention.
The question is, how to bring the store alive, keep it consistent and exciting throughout from the moment the customer walks past the shop window, encouraged to enter and then not walking out without something to takeaway, whether that be a purchase or something intangible (such as styling inspiration, or as little as a cheeky or humourous sticker).
Here are 3 ideas that retailers could use to solve that problem with a simple touch of technology that is now widely available:
1 - Interactive Windows
We are used to displaying windows in a certain way, such as using mannequins or adding environment elements in order to preach the lifestyle of the brand to its potential consumers. Retailers seem to forget that the windows, in any shape or size, provide an endless chance to potentially create dynamic, expansive or even provocative setup/impression for the retailers, even if the in-store decoration might not be as so.
Interacting with customers before they even enter the store increases their will to explore upon entering and makes them less likely to leave without completing their objectives - from discovering a new product or simply finding out the products that were featured in the windows.
229% increase in sales, if a high traffic hotspot has been planned well with right merchandise.
Capture that attention with a measuring tool such as QR codes or sensors, in-turn relaying data and tracking information back to commercially insightful data. Using this information when planning windows in the future or scheduling collaborations, retailers will be able to effectively plan their budget according to their effectiveness and potential exposure.
Furthermore, if the customer capture happens to be a regular customer, incentivise the activity with a personalised greeting or communication, to further increase their loyalty to the brand or locally, the store itself.
2 - Shoppable Mannequins
As mentioned before, one of the most common sales failures within a brick-and-mortar store is that customers weren’t able to find the desired products on display and help wasn't readily available or sales assistants weren’t able to assist further with their inquiries.
If all garments have been attached with their responding RFID tags, customers will be able to use their augmented reality camera within the retailer’s app to see what the mannequin is currently wearing, and find out more information. At the end of the process, they can purchase right-on-the-spot and get the complete outfit delivered to their home or, if personalisation is utmost important for the retailers, order on the spot, settle the payment on the mobile app and pick it up at the shop counter on the same day.
If that isn't practical, utilise the e-commerce products function, such as establishing trends, categories, and campaigns, create a specific set that is related to the mannequins currently displayed in-store. Generate a QR code that new or old customers can scan with their preferred browser or app to access the desired page on the e-commerce website. From there, they will be able to purchase products seen right in front of them, or with certain apps, call nearby assistants for information or help.
3 - Digital / In-Store Signs
One of the most important categories in store design but has yet to be truly transformed digitally or improved due to its nature. The in-store paper printed sign helps retailers to communicate promotions, products by price-point, seasonal greetings, featured products, activities, and even instructions for customers to navigate around the stores or opening hours. The colours, fonts and designs contribute to the complete customer experience. Digitalise the signs by adding QR codes onto promotional materials or in certain cases, clipped cards. Customers will be able to interact with these static, often missed opportunities to gather more information or even make their experience more fun and sociable.
63% surveyed admitted that digital signage catches their attention.
Retail is changing rapidly, disrupting every thread within the formerly solid foundation of retailing. Whilst being able to be agile and transformative is vital, remember that the customer is still at the heart of everything retail does and it will always be that way. Blending technology with the existing infrastructure, from Visual Merchandising, down to Buying / Graphics Departments will cause frustration and confusion, but yet doing so, it will unite company’s disconnected structure, gain customer’s confidence in the brand and establish local, or even international following where they can interact with each other, and further influence the landscape to truly reshape the customer experience.
How Retailers Can Deliver The Best Shopping Experience - Total Retail
- Harry Wong, Retail Analyst for Tofugear. Self-confessed window-shopaholic, passionate about visuals in everyday life.