The importance of digital technology in retail experiences has been growing for years. And this holiday season, retail success will be more vital than ever. Digital technology is not only transforming customer experiences, it is also enabling a fundamental rethinking of how retail stores and retail workers can be successful in the future.
The changing face of the retail store
Let’s take the self-service technology. It is already becoming an integral part of the in-store holiday retail experience. Accenture’s
Self-service is popular as it makes shopping faster and easier. And this is even more important during the holidays when long queues in the store can turn normally fun and social retail experiences into drag.
But self-service is only part of the long-term transition towards full digitalization of the retail store. By rethinking the entire shopping journey from browse to purchase, prospective retailers want to integrate their online and offline channels at scale; this is something that has been difficult to achieve in practice in the past.
Shop beyond the transaction
In doing so, retailers see the potential to devote more room to innovative experiences and creative spaces for product discovery. This could mean a new metric for retailers – moving from ‘sales per square metre’ to ‘profitability per square metre’. In addition, it can mean understanding what really drives foot traffic, which is especially important for the holidays. Because we know it’s really important for consumers to bring something extra to the table this time of year.
According to Accenture’s research, two-thirds of all shoppers — and nearly nine in ten millennials — say having an additional service, such as an in-store restaurant or beauty salon, will convince them to choose one retailer over another for holiday shopping.
Blending physical and digital experiences is an important part of this. For example, live streaming by store staff combines some of the best aspects of in-store shopping with the convenience and convenience of online shopping. In addition to providing this pure fun.
Already popular in Asia Pacific, live streaming is set to become a major trend worldwide this holiday. In fact, more than half of US retail executives say their companies plan to use their stores as live broadcast studios, according to research from Accenture.
Department stores are a segment that drives the trend, realizes the potential to showcase products, and increases consumer confidence in their brands. And it turns out that trust in the brand is important to consumers. Confidence in the company hosting the livestream event was key to the purchase, according to survey respondents.
Chance to be a star for employees
Another interesting feature of live streaming is that it amplifies new sounds. Thanks in part to platforms like Amazon
But there are also opportunities for big retail brands. For example, live streaming is a great way to elevate the role of frontline workers. It gives employees a chance to step away from routine business work, showcase their personality, product expertise and create a whole new field for their careers.
Nordstrom is a leading example from the USA. The brand’s Livestream virtual events allow employees and brand partners to run fun and informative interactive events in the beauty, fashion and home categories where customers can learn, ask questions to experts or purchase products directly.
Retail tech is also for employees
Broader point: digital tools and platforms are transforming employee experiences as well as customer experiences. See how retailers are starting to develop workplace platforms that deliver consumer-grade digital experiences and put new insights into the hands of store workers.
Take Amazon’s WorkingWell. This employee-developed program provides employees with advice on general health and healthy eating, as well as advice on physical and mental exercise – especially important in roles in retail operations. Easily accessible via a user-friendly mobile app, it is a great example of reimagining workplace health and safety in a highly human-centric and digitally-enabled way.
Transitioning to the Metaverse
And then there’s the metaverse. There has been a great deal of interest in retail potential lately. About 64% of consumers are thought to have purchased a virtual product or participated in a virtual experience in the last year.
This interest will continue during the holidays. Accenture’s research shows that two-thirds of retailers are already experimenting with metaverse concepts. And nearly two in five will offer some sort of virtual shopping experience, especially for the holidays this year.
For customers, virtual spaces are becoming increasingly important shopping and social destinations. Take a look at the growth of pop-up online stores like Burberry’s classic art-inspired Olympia handbag experience. Or the popularity of branded interactive experiences like Vans World on Roblox.
In fact, nearly a third of consumers said they would either shop on the metaverse or buy a virtual experience this holiday season, when the most popular categories are food and fashion.
Let tech shine this holiday season
Retailers are always looking for ways to make their retail experience easy, fun and efficient for shoppers and store workers alike. The examples above show how today’s digital tools and platforms are creating an explosion of new opportunities to achieve this goal. So it’s time to let retail tech take center stage this holiday season.