1. Digital Technology and Customer Satisfaction Go Hand-in-Hand for Fashion Retailers
With online shopping adversely affecting footfall in fashion stores, retailers are working harder than ever to get customers back to where they want them. In-store. And while consumers still enjoy a trip to the local town or retail park, the convenience of internet shopping often trumps the high street.
To ensure big brand fashion names are still visible on the high street, retailers are working harder than ever to entice customers. And many are resorting to in-store technology to lure them back.
2. A Great Customer Experience is Critical
Shoppers want one thing; a great customer experience, despite whether it is gained online or in-store. In an increasingly competitive environment, it is crucial that fashion stores keep up-to-date with the latest trends. And not only with the product ranges themselves but the technology used to market them.
Stores need to take advantage of their unique selling points; what can they offer that the internet still cannot? These include the sensory powers of physical sight and touch of the products, ability to ‘try before you buy’ and a personal and attentive one-to-one customer service. These factors, complemented by cutting-edge technology, are pivotal points in the continued and increased success of retail stores.
3. Digital technology in retail fashion
Technology in retail stores has is nothing new. Think the self-checkout at leading supermarkets. This technology has aimed to reduce queuing times and to improve the customer experience for those with busy, on-the-go lifestyles. And now fashion retailers are following suit with some stores offering this facility and more to their shoppers.
Yet, the self-checkout may have already started to feel a bit ‘old school’ to some. First developed in 1992 and becoming more commonplace by 2003, these systems have been around for quite a while now. Outdated systems are leaving hungry consumers wanting more.
In a world where technology is hugely valued, then these advancements can be brought in-store to meet the demands of both traditional and technologically-advanced shoppers alike.
4. Video Screens, Web ordering and Social Media In-Store
Some retailers like M&S and Debenhams are already bringing online product reviews, video screens and web ordering into their shops; a real draw for those who love a convenient, hassle-free experience at their very fingertips.
And preying on the power of technology doesn’t always have to be costly. In fact, US-based retailer Nordstrom has been spotted strategically advertising items, which have been pinned by users on Pinterest, in their window displays. A minimalist but effective idea.
Zara has built on the self-checkout idea to create a more enjoyable experience for customers. Queuing is minimised, and consumers can order and pay via mobile within the store.
5. Digital Signage
Other brands, such as KIKO, are introducing digital signage to their stores. Although a hefty outlay at the beginning, digital signage is hugely versatile, being changeable literally at the touch of a button. Similarly, video screens can showcase the store’s products in a way that isn’t possible by hanging clothes on an uninspiring rack.
Several brands have adopted the online browse and order system. Resembling large tablets, customers can search and swipe through their product offerings in-store. This experience is enhanced by being able to physically see and touch the products in the store around them but with the added benefit of being able to order precisely what they want, in the right colour and the desired size. What’s more, they can select a convenient delivery date and are offered a choice of delivery location or can opt to collect from the store itself.
6. Virtual Mannequins
Some pretty impressive ideas have been developed more recently in the retail fashion industry; virtual mannequins for starters. The idea may sound a little disconcerting, but, it’s somewhat innovative. The technology instigates the appearance of a virtual mannequin the moment a shopper picks up an item from a rail of garments. Customers can then see models wearing the chosen item, giving the chance to see how it looks and fits on a real (OK, virtual) being! The system is touch-enabled and also offers a swipe-through catalogue for even further inspiration.
7. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
In addition to this augmented reality, videos can play, and further enhancements to the technology include recommendations on co-ordinated pieces to those already selected and scanned by the customer. It’s a concept that has been adopted by the likes of M&S and Zara so far, with others set to follow their example as they strive to keep up with the competition.
A few years ago, Top shop entered into the virtual reality world during London Fashion Week. By providing their shoppers with virtual reality headsets, customers could experience a 360° view of the catwalk and the show’s other activities.
8. Mobile Alerts on Store Entry
Perhaps one of the boldest moves has been by Macy’s in the US. They have dared to target their clientele with the utmost precision. Shoppers who have the Shop kick app installed on their smart devices receive automatic alerts on entry to the store. These alerts recommend items the shopper could be interested in and highlight specific deals of the day. Some will love this approach. Others will find it too invasive. Whatever your thoughts, the idea is rather clever nonetheless!
As for marketing these super-innovative in-store ideas, retailers have got that one ingeniously covered. They encourage customers to share their experiences of the in-store technology to their social media accounts. With most people having access to at least one of a multitude of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, going viral can be pretty effortless. So, if retailers get it right, then social media can undoubtedly perform to their advantage.
9. Increasing Sales, Technology and Technique
Once shoppers are enticed into a store and wowed by its technology, it may be relatively easy to secure a purchase. However, how can sales be maximised and upselling increased?
Although technology is attractive to many, others may be wary. Staff should always be on-hand to demonstrate the capability of the technology in-store. With something as cutting-edge as the virtual mannequins, quite a crowd could gather if the right person is in place to showcase what’s on offer.
Personalised customer experience and support should never be underestimated. Engaging with the customer can bring huge rewards. Has the customer found everything they were looking for? Is there any coordinating item that could be sold with it? Are there any other suggestions that could be offered? It’s all textbook retail etiquette.
And don’t forget your low-cost add-on sales. Quick, easy and hasty-decision-friendly! Anything that can easily be stored in baskets or small racks at the till area within a store is great for increasing sales.
Learn about the market. Understand the customer dynamic and what they want. Recognise best-selling products; promote these items and buy more. Similarly, reduce the unpopular items.
Ensure staff know the brand’s key selling points. Make sure that key messages are understood by all and communicated in the same professional and knowledgeable manner from person to person.
10. Digital Technology Meets Good Old Fashioned Engagement
And what services can be offered in-store that online can’t do? Entertainment perhaps? Activities for the kids? Drinks and nibbles? Anything identifiable that sets apart in-store shopping from online will undoubtedly bring those shoppers through the door.
People still enjoy the traditional way of shopping, but when these conventional means are mixed with the powers of modern technology, then both shoppers and retailers can enjoy the best of both worlds.