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Digital Technologies That Are Shaping the In-Store Shopping Experience

The world of sales is becoming an undeniably more digital, every single day. And for business owners, it can quickly become a problem to keep up with it. According to a study by Deloitte, digital influence has grown from 14% of all sales in 2012 ($0.33 Trillion) to a whopping 49% in 2014. That’s $1.70 Trillion worth of sales influenced digitally. And the number is rising steadily.

Knowing where and what to prioritize in regards to this digital revolution is a truly tall order. As not all digital interaction points affect the final purchase decision, it is important for retailers to be present at the most critical moments that influence a sale, become a part of the shoppers consideration set, and play a role at the end of the journey.

For the bricks-and mortar, which is still a vital element in customer journey, this means that retailers have to evolve with the consumer’s radically changing shopping habits and invest in digital technologies that help increase engagement, in-store entertainment as well as dwell time and the overall satisfaction with the shopping experience.

What you need to understand to succeed

You have to understand your shoppers. That means:

  • Consistently analyzing your purchase journey: you need to understand when and where digital technology is being used by your shoppers
  • Understanding your shoppers specific pain points: what are your shoppers trying to solve when in-store and what are the most common pain points (e.g. long checkout lines, locating products, receiving advice when staff isn’t available)?
  • Highlighting the critical moments in which shoppers are lost: once you understand the journey, and more specifically the pain points, it opens up the opportunity to identify the requirements for any technology you will want to integrate in your store


How to integrate digital to improve the in-store experience

The usage of digital technology changes consumer behavior fundamentally – in both purpose and in methodology. Retailers need to be present during all relevant moments in the digital purchase journey to engage shoppers coming to their store and surprise them with a great in-store experience, they may not have expected.

1. Moment: Find inspiration

It’s the moment that the shopper realizes a need, be it explicit or latent, and embarks on a journey to find the suitable products or solutions. 70% of shoppers are finding products without the input of retailers, usually through their own research or through word of mouth referrals, blogs, social media and traditional media.

Social media plays a big role here, with shoppers claiming that 29% of them commit to a same-day purchase when social media was involved in the inspiration. Most social media users also spend 4 to 8 times more than non-users when it comes to digitally influenced purchases.

You should be actively involved in social media and other alternative places where shoppers seek inspiration. Not directly advertising, but instead interacting with your audience in fun ways to bring them in-store.

2. Moment: Browse and research

This is the moment in which the shopper begins to browse and research different products. Shoppers use their mobile phones in store to do comparison shopping or research alternatives.

To avoid losing shoppers to competitors in this moment, digital technology can be used to engage shoppers and provide them with all the information they need to traverse the path to purchase. Interactive choice support tools on in-store kiosks and touchscreens are a popular way to educate shoppers and help them reduce their purchase options based on their individual needs.

One example is the Calphalon in-store cookware advisor available at Macy’s in New York. Calphalon provides a whole range of kitchen cutlery, cookware and bakeware. Many people know they need parts, but don’t have a clear idea of the exact product needed and may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options.

Shoppers can access the interactive advisor on in-store touchscreens and can answer a few questions that address their specific needs – not specifications of the products. The solution gives customers a benefit-orientated sales experience without having to wait for sales assistants to become available. Ultimately,  helping them to quickly narrowing down what they need – directly at the store.

Calphalon Cookware advisor on in-store tablet
Calphalon Cookware advisor on in-store tablet

3. Moment: Select and validate

This is the final moment before the actual purchase. Here is where the shoppers are validating that their selection is going to give them everything they need from it. For the best – perceived – price versus its benefits.

While they use the information provided in-store, only two-thirds find all the information needed. Usually, at this step, the majority (67%) of shoppers with smartphones will turn to their mobile phones to look up product reviews and more detailed product information in order to establish and validate that they’ve made the right choice.

The use of digital technology allows retailers to bring creative, informative experiences to the shopper in the store.

Evans Cycles uses are QR codes in their stores. Shoppers can scan the code and are provided with more expansive in-depth information, than the physical display allows, directly on the shopper’s mobile.

QR code to scan and view full product information
QR code to scan and view full product information (source: eConsultancy)

4. Moment: Purchase and Pay

When it comes to the final moment, in which shoppers want to make a purchase, you have to design it in a quick, seamless and easy way to avoid frustrating shoppers who don’t want to wait in line.

Waitrose implemented self-service checkouts long before most of their competitors, which was a boost in smaller sales. However, for large purchases, swiping all of the individual products on a self-service scanner wasn’t really ideal for shoppers. The solution was the introduction of Waitrose’s Quick Check – essentially a handset to scan your items as you shopped, to avoid doing scanning and bagging at the self-checkout.

Waitrose’s Quick Check technology
Waitrose’s Quick Check technology (source: Waitrose)

Technology plays a massive role in everyday life, shopping is not an exception. To succeed in integrating digital technologies in-store, the shopping experience has to be built around the shopper and what is known about their behavior.

Using digital technology in-store should not be about pushing them towards the buy button quicker, but about providing them with all the information and service they need for an optimized in-store experience.


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Jake Mcspirit is a writer from Worthing, England - an interesting little place. He writes about business, marketing, and technology as well as psychology for Guided Selling Blog and other publications.