Luring shoppers away from the comfort and convenience of their online shopping basket has been the challenge of the century for bricks and mortar retailers. And now, with Amazon, who already claim half of all retail sales in the US, introducing a new Augmented Reality function to help shoppers visualise products in their home before they buy them, the challenge is just got tougher.
Doubtless, you know of at least one example of a creative if not radical solution implemented by a high street store to create an extraordinary in-store experience worth leaving the house for. Sometimes these experiences, ranging from treasure hunts to immersive theatre, are only very tenuously connected to the products and shopping opportunities offered by the stores that host them, but some are squarely on brand. In its central London store, The House of Vans, a skateboarding and BMX fashion retailer, has installed a cinema, café, live music venue and art gallery, with its piece de resistance in the basement, in the form of a fully functional skateboard/bike park.
However, on brand or not, not every retailer has the resources to add multiple new functions to their store, and even those that do are likely to have to limit this approach to their flagship branch. The question of what’s really, practically going to dictate the future of the in-store experience, for both retailers and shoppers, is one that was at the heart of the National Retail Federation’s NXT meeting in July 2019. It turns out that extraordinary store experiences were only one of the three answers they presented. The other two were data and digital marketing. Furthermore, they are the ones that are going to tell you what is going to make for an extraordinary store experience.
Being a high street retailer can seem like a huge disadvantage when you are competing with online stores, because online stores can be accessed by anyone from anywhere, including from inside a high street store. However, online retailers would kill for the quality of data you can capture with a shopper standing in front of you, where you can hold a conversation with them and be responsive in real-time to the information you take in.
The evolution of websites no match for direct contact with the customer
Websites may have evolved the ability to carry out sophisticated behaviour analysis using heatmaps and other user data, but they cannot directly observe their shoppers and modify their approach to better suit the dynamic of each individual, or successfully judge if now is the right time to ask for information that will improve how you connect with them as a brand. These kinds of interactions are not everyone’s forte, but for those who can master them, they can provide far richer data about a customer’s shopping needs than you can get from analysing the same person’s mouse movements and clicks on a website. If you want to know if the changes you are making to your customer experience online are working you can ask your visitors. A retail associate’s observation of a shopper in a high street store could give you a far more accurate, real-time feedback on the success or failure of the customer experience.
Digital marketing and data are closely linked because what makes digital marketing so powerful compared with traditional marketing is the scope it provides to analyse its impact and the speed with which that can be done. When trying to measure the impact of an advert on TV or in a magazine, the two best measures used to be: how many people saw it and, if possible, how many people called the telephone number given in the ad.
Whatever the form of your digital marketing – email, blog, video, banner, pop-up, it is relatively easy to A/B test different options that with old marketing media you would simply have had to commit. Now you can change words, colours and images in marketing, making sure that you can identify which version of which marketing asset a person saw when they answered a call to action (clicking, completing a form, printing a coupon) and get real data as to which marketing effort had the most impact.
This is critical because for most customers in the high street their experience begins with an exposure to digital marketing. It is also critical that the experience offered in-store is looked at holistically alongside the digital marketing effort so that there is congruence between all the digital marketing touchpoints leading to the high street store and the physical space of that same brand.
KIT – helping brands capture real usable data
One way of achieving that is with KIT, which runs on an iPad or Android tablet, and can be adapted to fit any retail brand. KIT is a tool that works at the intersection of all three of the answers offered by the NRF’s NXT meeting. Using customer profiles, it captures incredibly useful data to help the brand improve its customer experience. By linking to the brand’s website it integrates with other digital marketing efforts and powers digital marketing by providing store associates with various means to message customers directly. Finally, there are numerous ways KIT can be used as part of the shopping experience. It can help to locate particular products, both in the catalogue and the store. It can be used to compare products or help educate customers about products. And it can be used to close a sale when otherwise a customer would have a much longer process to follow and run the risk of not completing the purchase.
It is also worth noting that while the assisted selling features of KIT can rescue a retailer from putting too much thought into the frills and not enough into the nuts and bolts of selling stuff to all its customers, KIT can also help with a particular category of shopper, identified in a paper written in April 2018, titled: Selling the Extraordinary Experiential Retail Stores – who will feel particularly let down if she or he can’t make their purchase with a minimum of fuss.
That is to say, as important as it is for retail stores to think about the customer experience and how to make it rock, they must also understand that broadly speaking, shoppers come in two forms. The ones who do planned, task focussed shopping and those who are more spontaneous and open to being entertained. As well as helping immerse the spontaneous, entertainment-oriented shoppers in the brand and its products, KIT can be the perfect tool for a store associate who needs to help a task focussed shopper transcend the distraction of the entertainment, to simply execute their task. Thus, instead of leaving frustrated because they were not interested in trying a face mask made from Koala droppings, task focussed customers can be made grateful that your store understood and catered to their individual needs.
To learn more about how KIT can form part of your data-driven, digital marketing integrated, extraordinary customer experience, just contact the KIT team on +44 203 691 2936. They will be very happy to answer any questions and schedule a demonstration. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) is exhibiting at this year’s Retail Business Technology Expo, RBTE 2018, in London and will be showcasing how KIT is changing the retail landscape and helping to reinvent the customer journey.
Visitors to the KIT stand (G218) can speak with our team of experts to discover more about our exciting new developments or have a one-to-one demo of the product. Witness first hand how the extensive range of KIT features are radically improving the customer experience and empowering store associates by providing a wealth of unparalleled customer information.
Disrupting the norm
Retailers of all description flock to RBTE 2018 to meet with suppliers, listen to a wealth of expert opinion and seek out organisations who are pushing the boundaries of expectation from the retail sector of the future.
Physical stores and the role of the store associate continue to evolve, and the customer journey is now a 360-degree experience of the brand. In the same way mortar holds together the bricks of a store, KIT acts as the conduit that links together all the ingredients that creates the store of the future today.
Keytree In-store Technology empowers the store associate with instant access to stock, inventory and customer preferences, and is a prime example of how retail technology is pushing the envelope when it comes to providing customers with a fully rounded shopping experience.
The biggest year yet!
RBTE 2018 is at Olympia London, running from 2 – 3 May 2018, and every year it attracts all the movers and shakers in retail, technology and enterprise.
In 2017, almost 20,000 attendees visited the conference – one in three were retailers, with more than 20 percent from a fashion-related sector. This year’s event offers an extensive range of keynote speakers such as Brian McBride, Chairman at Asos alongside representatives from brands including Autotrader, Macy’s, Molton Brown and Vodafone – plus more than 400 suppliers on show.
The KIT team is looking forward to meeting new and existing clients who are keen to drive innovation in their business. Meet us at stand G218 to discover more about innovative retail technologies, and join the journey to develop ground-breaking technology and transform your business.
To arrange an appointment with the KIT team, please contact Karina Kholodova at email@example.com or call 020 3691 2936.
Around 10 percent of in-store sales are lost because an item is not in stock. If we consider this with how customers review product ranges online, expecting to see and purchase these items when they arrive at the store, then we have the key drivers for an endless aisle. Customers still enjoy the personalised support available that they experience in stores and enjoy the freedom to touch and explore before deciding to purchase a product.
Retailers continue to rethink and reinvent the shopping experience and offering an endless aisle gives the physical store a much better chance to avoid lost sales. Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) gives the store associate access to the store catalogue, the full inventory of the brand and provides the customer with real-time access to products. However, the capabilities of endless aisle do require a full integration of the right technology and processes.
There are various challenges that retailers face when setting up an endless aisle functionality. These are as follows:
- Keep your inventory up-to-date in real time knowing when and where the stock is available, otherwise you will not be able to order the item that the customer demands with any confidence.
- The inventory can change constantly across your multiple channels, i.e. the online store, the physical store or placed orders with dropship suppliers.
- Knowing how much stock you have to hand, which means that key systems are integrated with each other, so that inventory levels are constantly updated with each sale and you always know what stock is available at any given time.
Keytree In-store Technology can be integrated seamlessly with systems such as SAP CAR to provide a comprehensive endless aisles experience for your store, making sure the customer never leaves wanting – as customers can continue to browse products online while in the store but with the full support of the store associate. Items available online, including any offers can be redeemed, and if the product is available to view or try on in the store, the store associate can use KIT to locate accordingly – regardless of the location.
Enhancing the customer experience with more choice
An endless aisle of products will ensure the store associate is no longer restricted to the in-store inventory and gives shoppers access to a range of products that are always available.
If a customer wants an item in a particular size and colour, but the item is not available in the store, this potentially is a sales opportunity that could be lost to online competition. An endless aisle will combat the possibility of losing out to another store or website by allowing the store associate to show the customer the requested item online. The customer can then decide on whether they want the item delivered to the store or conveniently to their home address.
Providing the store associate with instant access to the product catalogue and current, real-time stock inventory, allows the store associate to share an endless aisle of items with the customer. Making available online what you are unable to get in-store, hands the impetuous to the store associate and with the right technology, empowers the store associate to offer alternatives and suggestions to guarantee the customers gets the item they came to buy in store.
How physical and digital retail experiences can successfully converge in the hands of the store associate
As retailers continue to modernise and invest in the in-store experience the world of online retail is now recognised as an integral part of the bricks and mortar experience, a synchronisation referred to as retail convergence. Although lavish fittings and interior design are still key components of high end fashion retail it all starts with the store associate. This role is at the very beginning of the transformational journey.
In the past, and even today inside some retailers, the store associate had little insight into their customer’s needs, tastes and habits. Customer information was held in distant CRM systems or fragmented among multiple sources and only accessible to those who often did not have direct contact with the customer. Without quick and easy access to this data, it was next to impossible for the store associate to track buying patterns & preferences and therefore provide an in-store experience that encouraged and nurtured customer loyalty long term.
Invest in the store associate
By giving the store associate real-time access to stockroom inventory, the ability to jump the checkout queue and continuous communication with the customer – retailers not only bring the online world into the physical store but also give store associates a new toolset that will dramatically transform and improve their working day.
The store associate should be more than a person who replenishes stock or directs a customer to the nearest checkout. For example with the right technology such as a Lookbook app, they can engage with customers even when they are physically not in the store by creating engaging content based on a customer’s interests, which they can then share via email or text.
The store associate can build trust within the brand – they can know when a registered customer has entered the store, allowing them to meet and greet before showing them a new item, which is of registered interest in their 360-degree customer profile.
Digital Retail Convergence
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) can bring this converging digital experience into the store so the associate and customer get the best of both worlds – it’s important to remember that the success of the new generation in-store experience should fall firmly onto the shoulders of the store associate. Without the dedication of these individuals, working face to face with customers on the shop floor, none of these remarkable technological breakthroughs will have the much-needed impact on the customer’s in-store experience.
Retailers should not underestimate the role of the store associate as they go through any transformational process. They are the key element that gives customers access to everything that online should offer while in the store. The store associate is the face of the business and is the font of all knowledge as everything that’s worth knowing is in the palm of their hand in one easy to use application, which is linking together the best of both worlds.
Lookbook, Omni-channel baskets, Inventory and mobile payments will become more commonplace in the retail sector, due to the influx of Clienteling software – aimed at enhancing the customer journey to provide the ultimate Omni-channel shopping experience.
Keytree In-store Technology can bring together retail convergence into the new generation of digital stores – it’s important to remember that the success of the next generation store requires this forward-thinking technology to grow and enhance the new experience. However, there’s no point in merely handing over new technology to the store associate and expecting instant success – training, product updates with research and development are essential. The technology also needs to be easy to use, so it doesn’t become a hindrance, and the data must be accurate – so the solution can be trusted.
Luxury retailers are expected to continually innovate in-store and improve the customer experience to remain competitive in a highly competitive market place – providing every customer with the desired in-store shopping experience, increasing brand loyalty, customer retention and most importantly sales. For high-end high street fashion houses it is also fundamental to create a shopping experience that is a satisfying representation of the brand itself.
The answer to many of these challenges lies in retail solutions such as Keytree In-store Technology and its modules such as the Digital Black Book. By taking the latest technology available and combining it with unparalleled innovation, driven by market forces, we have developed the toolset required by the store associate to enhance the shopping experience in luxury retail, driving sales across the product line.
Everything in one place – a centralised solution
The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team considers the creative use of technology and the user as the driving force behind the product – a product that has been successfully deployed in prestigious luxury fashion houses and used daily by store associates across the globe.
Our range of modules covers Catalogue, Customer Engagement, the Digital Black Book, Lookbook, Runner App, Customer App and oversees an organisation’s Omni-channel Inventory while managing Retail Productivity.
Our extensive research tells us that the product catalogue is the first point of reference for most customers, looking at what’s on offer. Although a brand’s website holds this information – the store associate needs this information in the palm of their hand so they can review one to one with the client. Our catalogue module provides this and more – it also gives shop floor staff the ability to check stock across all stores via any preferred method, including barcode scanning.
The store associate will collect a customer’s personal details and store directly in the application, so they can keep customers up to date with new product information, product lines or items that they may have been waiting to arrive in the store. Our state of the art, customer engagement module gives store associates the power to liaise with clients via their preferred method of communication – be it telephone, email or social channels. KIT can store behavioural data, so staff have a 360-degree real-time view of all previous purchases, interactions, notes and appointments – creating a Digital Black Book.
As the store associate is now communicating one to one with customers, KIT provides a ground-breaking approach to selling goods – by creating personalised style boards and looks based on the customer’s purchasing history and preferences. The suggested looks can then be sent directly to the customer via their choice of communication channel, or why not display the image on an in-store digital display, using Apple TV Broadcast capabilities the next time the customer visits the store.
KIT provides our clients with a customer centric tool that ensures the store associate never needs to leave the customer’s side. After viewing the product catalogue and once an item is selected, KIT will send a note directly to the store runner to retrieve the product from the stockroom and bring to the customer. If they want to try on the item, KIT will tap into the RFID network to locate a vacant changing room.
Keytree In-store Technology provides the store associate with access to inventory across multiple locations, in real-time. Having the ability to check stock and never failing to be in-stock with a product is an essential element in nurturing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Our product roadmap will continue to learn, enhance and provide customers with the ultimate in-store experience but will also support store associates, helping manage all their tasks, appointments and events through each of their working days.
One summer evening in the late 90s – Rob Lewis, serial entrepreneur and founder of silicon.com gathered senior editors from the IT and business sector in the main hall at the Natural History Museum and made a bold announcement while throwing their publications in a dustbin. He predicted that magazines and newspapers would become a thing of the past – replaced by online news sites.
The dot-com boom of the 1990s carried many predictions and the group of editors from the publishing house who attended the above event has seen its 40 publications become reduced to three in less than 20 years. But other predictions have had a strange, unpredictable journey.
One of the biggest and boldest prophecies was the doomed high street. In the mid-90s, Jeff Bezos left the canyons of Wall Street and set up shop in Seattle where he created his online bookstore, which has since become the largest internet-based retailer in the world. The birth of Amazon was to many the first nail in the coffin for the physical store – or the newly coined phrase ‘bricks and mortar’. How could the high street compete with buying goods from the comfort of your front room – or at your desk during a lunch break?
Crossover physical digital experiences breathing new life into the highstreets
Fast forward 20 years and many big brands have disappeared from our high street, pulling down the shutters on 1,000s of stores. Despite the variety of channels now available to customers (the omni-channel approach), nine out of ten retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide.
It’s not all doom and gloom, and companies are starting to realise the value of having an outlet built of bricks. Amazon has gone full circle and in 2015 opened its first physical store and less than 12 months ago, IKEA announced it would be investing in the high street and opening smaller stores to compliment their 18 out of town facilities.
Focusing on the customer experience
The most valuable ingredient for improving the in-store experience is the knowledge base of the store associate – demonstrating a clear understanding of the product on sale as 40 percent of global shopper’s see this as the number one component of an enjoyable visit to the high street, according to the 2016 Total Retail Survey by PwC.
So by giving staff on the shop floor the ability to stay with the client while accessing inventory including detailed product information, it will instantly improve the in-store experience, but it doesn’t stop there. Having access to customer data will greatly inform decisions made by the store associate – such as understanding the client’s channel preference or the styles that match previous purchases, which will go a long way to ensuring customers return on a regular basis.
The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team has built and designed retail Clienteling solutions via thorough market research activities that continually feed into product development. Clienteling is the term applied to the store associate’s daily routine to establish relationships with customers based on preference, behaviour and purchase data.
KIT provides this vital 360-degree customer information which forms a core feature of the Clienteling app, one of various applications that Keytree provides for KIT customers.
The KIT team’s aim was to re-imagine the Clienteling experience for store associates, advisors, managers and customers alike ensuring the interactions are as fruitful as possible. Over the last two years, we have conducted workshops continually optimising our designs, inviting both clients and technology partners to engage in this collaborative process. KIT provides a Digital Black Book that helps advisors manage their daily tasks, along with product catalogue and stock visibility with an omni-channel basket and easy to use mobile payment capabilities.
In the world of retail, Clienteling software solutions are staking a claim as drivers of the primary strategy for ensuring store associates and their customers get the most from the omni-channel experience and ultimately help increase sales across the retail spectrum. Although online commerce has become the primary channel for many consumers, Keytree’s in-store Clienteling is revolutionising a continually evolving technology within the fast-moving digital landscape.
Customers expect a consistent digital experience, reflecting what they have in the comfort of their own home or on mobile but what KIT applications add is an enhanced personal touch, which they get from store associates but at a speed and efficiency that only recent accomplishments in the tech space can provide. The modern store associate needs to interact with the consumer beyond the boundaries of the physical store, and KIT retail solutions are becoming providers of this platform. Being able to communicate with and sell to customers without them visiting the store has immense sales benefits across all retail sectors.
Creating the ultimate shopping experience
It’s also important to breathe new life into the in-store experience via the mobile channel and not rely solely on an associate and traditional Point of Sale (POS). The NewStore Mobile Retail Report reviewed mobile websites, native apps and the in-store experience of 140 lifestyle, luxury and apparel brands. The findings show that only one in four store associates provided real-time inventory information while on the shop floor (via a device) and just 20 percent of those surveyed offer native shopping apps.
Software solutions such as KIT remedy these pain points, offering a selection of modules including a Catalogue, Runner App and customer Walkway App using the latest iOS AR technologies. We can ensure stock information is readily available, and items are instantly retrievable from the back of the store. Our Clienteling solutions will continue to develop and innovate to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the customer.
Right now, ‘bricks and mortar’ still offer something that you cannot get online – the personal interaction between the customer and the brand. Using a Clienteling solution to amplify the experience is vital for business success and customer retention and will pull every channel together to create the ultimate omni-channel and customer experience.
Whether it’s for clothing, food or fun we all need to shop so we could say that everyone has an expert opinion on what creates the perfect shopping experience, but there are many eventualities to consider and overcome.
How long will a shopper remain in a store where product shelves are messy and randomly stacked? There is only one checkout available, and the line is far too long for your lunchtime visit? Where do you go for help when there’s no one around to ask – and when you find the store associate, how do you deal with the reply “it’s not my department.”
What appears at first glance as a list of grievances can also act as an inventory of areas where stores can improve. Let’s remember – customers will abandon their visit and go to a competitor if they have a negative shopping experience and the ultimate price to pay could be continued losses and eventually closure.
In 2016, 30 medium sized and large UK retail businesses closed the doors on 1,500 stores putting more than 26,000 people out of work, according to the Centre for Retail Research. But the problem is not getting customers into the building as 94 per cent of retail transactions still happen in the store, according to Deloitte. The challenge is providing the expected level of in-store service in a new and innovative way.
Using innovation to create the ultimate experience
Retailers place varying levels of worth on innovation, but with the wealth of technology and solutions readily available, customers expect more from their shopping experience – in fact, it’s an approach demanded by consumers.
A recent report by PwC, in which they surveyed over 22,000 online shoppers from around the globe, states that two-thirds of those asked said their favourite retailer was quite innovative in some way. Although the retail sector is getting to grips with a range of technological improvements, such as social media engagement and delivery options – innovation should also be applied to create a seamless omni-channel experience.
Customers want to shop from anywhere – mobile phone, tablet, laptop, PC or wearable’s and whichever channel used it should be twinned with the traditional bricks and mortar store. Transaction and browsing data should be manipulated to inform store associates on customer likes and dislikes or help build a new style or outfit based on the latest must-have items.
Taking an innovative approach will be the game changer – ensuring customers receive the expected in-store experience that will keep them coming back for more.
E-commerce is a quick and easy way to purchase goods, but nine out of ten retail transactions take place in store and two-thirds of luxury consumers say they want to touch and feel a product before purchase – according to research from Deloitte and Google respectively.
Not everyone can work in a public-facing role, and fewer still have the gift of being able to meet customer needs – in a graceful and uncomplicated manner. An excellent store associate knows how to care for their clients and has a unique understanding of each client, gauging their interest through body language or by reacting to a comment.
Technology surrounds us. It can be used to drive cars, create virtual reality gaming, and it even allows you to turn on your heating while struggling home through the rush hour. In the utility market, smart meters use IoT technology to monitor and record consumption on an hourly basis, and GDS is entirely recreating governmental systems to meet user needs but what impact is technology having on the retail sector?
Before we look at what’s on offer we need to remember that not so long ago the industry was facing nothing but doom and gloom. In the ‘90s, the dot-com bubble brought us many new offerings including e-commerce. At the time, many thought the future of the high street was under threat predicting that ‘bricks and mortar’ was a thing of the past. The bubble burst and the stores are still firmly rooted in their foundations, but 20 years later, these same stores are on the verge of a technological revolution.
But the use of technology in the retail sector doesn’t need to create new ways of getting customers into the building as 94 per cent of retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide. The onus is on the customer journey and providing the highest level of service, combining all channels to create the ultimate omni-channel.
Giving store associate’s the tools to improve the customer experience
The role of the store associate should be more than pointing you towards the changing rooms or fetching a different colour sweater. It’s time for the retail sector to realise that there’s more a store associate can offer customers, and there’s an easier way for them to do their job – by deploying Keytree In-store Technology.
As the store associate is usually the first point of reference for any client and is also the face of the business, retailers should be providing these valuable employees with the tools that will help improve the customer experience by nurturing valuable customer relationships through digital. Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) provides the perfect tool for managing tasks in one centralised solution, and the KIT dashboard gives users the ability to create, edit and manage tasks, calendars, team meetings and client appointments – working directly from the app.
Online or in-store – KIT also provides a complete omni-channel view of customer activity giving store associates instant access to customer needs, preferences and purchasing history. By having all customer information in one place, store associates can view wish lists, in-process shopping carts, social media profiles and communication history for each and every registered customer.
This approach ensures the customer gets a more personalised service each and every time they come into the store and store associates can access the information needed and never to miss a sale. It’s time to combine online and in-store offerings and give store associates the power of today. So whether it’s identifying who’s entering the store or creating bespoke styles online to match a customer’s preference, the future of shopping lies in the palm of the store associates hand.