We all know that data is a big deal in retail. And over the past five years, the volume and sophistication of technology available to collect and use customer information has significantly increased – especially within the store environment.
However, for many retailers, their journey to enabling better bricks-and-mortar experiences through data is still in its infancy.
One of the biggest game-changers in physical retail engagement has been the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT). The growing number of smart devices is giving retailers greater capacity to bring online knowledge and interaction into the store, so that customers can enjoy the best aspects of online shopping alongside the store’s unique qualities.
This opportunity is being rapidly realised and capitalised upon by leading-edge retailers; according to Gartner, worldwide IT spending is set to increase by 24% this year, driven primarily by IoT investment and disruptive technologies.
Coming together: the next in-store tech challenge
However, as retailers invest in smart devices and store analytics solutions, new challenges arise. For most, the biggest obstacle to overcome is cohesion – how do these varying technologies and systems work together in harmony to create better customer experiences?
It’s very easy to end up in a scenario where in-store engagement tools work as standalone platforms. While they will still have value on their own terms, to truly impress shoppers and generate engagement, conversion and loyalty, these solutions need to integrate around the customer.
The key thing that links all smart devices, regardless of which technologies retailers select for their stores, is data. Each element of the connected retail experience must extract and utilise contextual – and often personal – data, in order to build meaningful shopper encounters.
For example, many stores are experimenting with using sensors to detect when a potential customer picks up an item, and then trigger additional interesting content relating to the product, such as key features, instructional videos, or positive customer reviews.
Equally, certain retailers are taking this one stage further, tailoring content to individual shoppers using demographic sensors. By detecting where a potential customer is in the store, and their demographic, relevant offers or information can be sent to a nearby screen as well as to sales staff so they can target content or offers towards that individual, or assist with further information.
Retailers may also have the in-store capabilities to detect whether or not a smartphone user has been into the store before, and can therefore further tailor the content based on knowledge of their previous visit, or send offers direct to their phone.
Using IoT to get more from the store
There are many examples of how IoT can enhance the in-store customer experience. There are numerous other smart store innovations exploring how to change the entire bricks-and-mortar ambience based on who walks through the door – from demographically profiling marketing content through facial recognition technology, to adjusting the lighting, music and even scent of the store based on who is shopping, and at what time of day.
While these might seem like next-generation ‘bells and whistles’, they are all rooted in the same principle: using data to understand who the customer is, and improving their experienced based on that knowledge.
Therefore, any retailer looking to enhance their customer relationships through physical channels needs to think not just about what smart devices or analytics capabilities to invest in, but how they are going to connect these devices together. It is the power of extracting, sharing and utilising data to tailor the customer experience that will ultimately deem whether their investment is a success.
Grassfish’s Xperience Platform enables retail stores to digitally engage and interact with customers, measure and adapt to their behaviour, and support your store associates. Find out more about our smart store solution, and how it can integrate your bricks-and-mortar technologies.