Real Store Locations: The Next Step for Online Retailers
The demise of the retail store at the hands of online shops has been greatly exaggerated. Quite the contrary, it appears "e-commerce needs real store locations more than ever," according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Turns out stores are a less expensive way to attract new customers as the cost of acquiring them online has skyrocketed—up nearly 50% over the past five years, according to Profit-Well. The online and in-store experience are becoming more intertwined as digital displays and smartphones link the two together.
“It’s not like it’s stores against e-commerce any more.
They play an integral role in supporting each other.
The old story that stores are dead is simply not true.”
— Brendan Witcher, a Forrester Research principal analyst.
A study by Forrester Research estimated that 72 percent of retail sales in the U.S. will still come from traditional, brick-and-mortar stores through 2024. Testing products (47%) and walking away with an item after purchasing (38%) were the top reasons for shopping in-store.To help keep these shoppers coming in the doors, the in-store shopping experience is evolving to more fully engage shoppers.
3 Retailers More Fully Engaging Shoppers
Today's shoppers want more than just a rack of clothes or shelf of items for sale. They want shopping to be an experience, not just a chore. Here are three innovative stores around the world leading the way in delivering in-store innovation.
1. Interactive selfie mirror at New York City's H&M flagship store in Times Square
Imagine a mirror in a store talking with you. That's what the interactive selfie mirror at NYC's H&M store does. It engages shoppers who step near to the mirror or glimpse in the mirror and invites them to take a selfie. Powered by AI, the mirror was inspired by the talking "mirror, mirror on the wall" line from the movie, "Snow White".
The H&M mirror, which was produced in collaboration with Microsoft, Ombori and Visual Art, has a QR code, which shoppers can scan to share their image with their friends via text or social media. It's fun for the shoppers and a great way to attract new shoppers from the shopper's fan base to the store.
2. The interactive store window in Stockholm's Clas Ohlson store.
Shoppers don't even have to enter the store to shop at Stockholm's high-end Clas Ohlson hardware store. The QR code in the display window tells shoppers store hours, advises whether the store has an item in stock and even processes online orders. All shoppers have to do to activate the window is walk by it.
The window also comes alive with photos of products when a passerby gets near to it. The displays work together with the store's e-commerce site, meaning that customers can move seamlessly online and buy the products after seeing them in the store window retail displays.
3. Interactive Store Pickup
Stein Mart department stores are getting into the interactive business with its "smart button." Customers can press a button outside of the store to access their online order and have it brought out to their vehicle.
"We didn't want the experience to be anonymous, or to miss an opportunity to connect with our customers. We wanted in-store pick-up to be a unique touchpoint,
where store associates could interact with customers and provide engaging experiences."
— Maurice Louwerse, Stein Mart's director of IT Technical Services
Reinventing Brick-and-Mortar Retail
In-person retail shopping isn't dead, by any means, but it is definitely reinventing itself. Look for interactive experiences in stores near you as this movement works its way across the United States and beyond. In-store shopping is about to become much more exciting.