How Retailers are Improving Customer Engagement with Digital In Store Experiences?

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Mike is a gym freak and is looking for a new pair of shoes for endurance training. He went through few of the models online which are best suited within his budget limits and then went to a nearby seller to buy one among those chosen models. The salesman understood the purpose of his purchase, and recommended him some more models which he already rejected previously. Now Mike starts to regret the idea of coming to store instead of buying it online. How many of you actually had the same in-store experience as Mike?

Shoppers like Mike come to a retail outlet mostly to get the touch and feel of products that they had already chosen online. So, suggesting an altogether new set of products is simply a waste of their time. In this case, the retailer is unable to meet customer engagement. Then how to provide a wonderful in-store experience for customers?

#1 Fast Pay: Nowadays consumers are placing unprecedented value on shopping quickly and effortlessly. Reducing the waiting time at the cash counter is a good way to enhance in-store experience. Companies like Apple have eliminated the cash register in their stores, as they are handling sales transactions on smartphones and are sending receipts to the customers via email. iPhone owners can buy any product just by simply scanning the barcode of the product from their phone and then paying in-store through an app called EasyPay. Similarly, Walmart is also bringing in systems where customers can buy the product online and just come and collect it from the nearby store. Hence, the long queues in front of cash counters got gradually reduced. These companies have made a swift transition from online to in store shopping thereby becoming omni-channel retailers. They are seamlessly connecting their online and offline channels, thereby providing a truly unified shopping experience.

#2 Personalization: Today cloud computing and big data are becoming increasingly associated with retail. Suppose a person has gone to buy shirts in the nearby shop. The shopkeeper already has all the data of his previous purchases. He chooses a shirt and proceeds for payment. Immediately his mobile blinks with the suggestion of a necktie which suits well along with the shirt which he has just chosen. Now the necktie turns out to be of one of his favorite color and he immediately buys it. So how do you think the shopkeeper could suggest such a wonderful match at the right moment? It’s all data analysis.

The record of all his previous purchases are analyzed at the time he entered the shop and product suggestions are given accordingly. It is a wonderful way to improve customer engagement and retention rate as well as the sales figure.

#3 Virtual Mirror System: A virtual mirror system puts a digital image on top of a normal mirror, thereby allowing the customer to see how clothing fits, encouraging customer engagement. It’s like replacing a traditional trial room with a virtual one, thereby providing a superior in-store experience. The retail sector will continuously be disrupted by virtual and augmented reality. According to Goldman Sachs, the virtual reality industry will grow to $1.6 billion with 32 million users in 2017. These will help shoppers explore different looks quickly, thereby saving more time.

#4 Digital Signage: Digital signage is a visual communication media which are used by retailers to provide a better in-store customer engagement. A digital signage can be of a virtual assembling tool type or can be of a virtual product aisle type. For example, Tesla Motors in an approach to create an innovative in-store experience, features interactive displays and design studios where customers can configure their own car on a large touch screen and then view it on an 85- inch video wall in the back of the store. Virtual product aisle is a new type of digital signage where each store product can be viewed and purchased on a single screen, without having to walk around the shop. Tesco, a British multinational grocery, has tested the prototype of this system.

These technologies basically enhance in-store customer experience hence enhancing customer engagement thereby increasing the footfall and sales figure.

#5 Geo-fencing: It is like outdoor and indoor localization. For example, suppose a person who normally goes to office at 10.30 am, goes at 9.30 am on a particular day, without having his breakfast. Now as he crosses a McDonald’s franchisee, he receives a message saying that, breakfast is 50 percent off today. He immediately parks his car and goes in to have the breakfast. This is an example of geo-fencing.

With the help of geolocation techniques like GPS, LBS, etc. a retailer can know the exact location of a customer and can send him/her a personalized invitation to enter the shop. Now, once the customer enters the shop, beacons are already installed to guide him/her to the desired products based on his/her previous purchase records, thus offering the customer a ‘wow’ in-store experience..

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