You found the perfect boots. You found them on a blog, then used your phone to find them locally. En route to the store, you search where you can buy them at the best price online.
You post them to Facebook to get opinions. You read reviews online. You try them on in the store, send a photo to a friend for their opinion, then head home and get the best price with the most convenient delivery options.
Click. Buy. Own.
Whether it’s the boots, the television, or the organic meal you prepare at home, the phone’s gravity as the center of the shopping universe is increasing.
Now what matters is how retailers will ramp up their store experience to stay indispensable. If you’re a brand that has built its business, or identity, on the power of the physical retail space, you’ve got work to do.
Look down any aisle today, and it’s all faces buried in phones — not as a tool to interact with store experience, but as a tool to work around the store, regardless of the retail environment. People choose digital paths because they’re easier, faster and provide a better, more robust experience than an increasingly staid in-store version.
The good news: Tech is largely great for the shopping world.
The scary news: Retailers are lagging in providing new forms of value to shoppers. As more shoppers wander aisles, phone in hand — or shopping at home — many think mobile improves the shopping experience.
So in what direction can stores and brands innovate? Here are three ways you can use technology to put stores prominently back in the picture:
1. Help People Make Better Decisions
If an estimated 85% of global shoppers in a recent study by my agency and ChaseDesign cite time and money saving as their biggest shopping tech desire, and mobile has it covered, where can stores complement that value? Respondents wanted shopper tech to identify the right product to buy (60%), demonstrate product use (52%), and provide more purchase information (43%).
Now consider how the shopping and retail market boasts little-to-no technology outside mobile apps capable of delivering decision-making benefits. And consider stores’ legacy as the environment in which people loved pondering and making decisions. What in-store technology can you build to restore and advance that value?
2. Develop Experience Strategy
We also studied shoppers’ exposure to the technologies dominating industry conversations around retail innovations. Leading in reported consumer awareness were one-touch ordering (28%), smart appliances (21%) and active displays in-store (18%). Fewer had seen drone deliveries (8%), augmented reality product visualization (7%) or active mirrors (5%).
Over half of shoppers say they’d be interested in using more advanced shopping technologies, with specific interest in active displays (70%), in-store beacons (54%) and active mirrors (53%) — all store-based technologies.
Start in a place of value. Root your technology strategy in your overall experience strategy. Test and invent tactics from there.
3. Identify Innovation Categories
Shopper technologies are most-desired in grocery stores (76%), department stores (49%) and mass merchandise (46%). Top product categories where technologies aid the shopping experience include apparel (76%), movies, videos and music (69%) and consumer electronics (67%). This research reveals two opportunities: These channels and categories are where people look forward to your new tech presence. If you’re in position to do so, start here.
Conversely, people likely voice passion for these categories because it’s where they already see change. The categories outside of these are positioned to make the most innovation leaps, because they’re where not much ground has been broken.
If you’re close to the marketing world, you know the path to purchase is taking new twists and turns between awareness and purchase. Find where people want to go, and make all your tech decisions based on the directions shoppers give you.
This is where it all gets fun again.
Donnalyn Smith is President, North America, Momentum Worldwide