Use Technology To Drive In-Store Customer Engagement

Hot on the heels of our recent report Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future, I've just released some follow-up research: Brief: Using Technology To Drive In-Store Customer Engagement

The I&O role continues to notably evolve from a mere IT role to becoming a BT -- Business Technology -- role. This means taking an increasingly role in empowering customer-facing technologies. And as I&O pros shift toward becoming customer enablers, you should begin to closely track -- and to pilot -- a number of emerging technologies that can help your company attract, retain, and serve customers. Currently, myriad solutions exist; as one start-up vendor told me, "there are so many new technologies out there, it's hard for buyers to decide where to place their bets, so we just try to get our products into trial to prove the value." While the number of these technologies (and their vendors) is great, they tend to share one or more of the following characteristics. As you read the list, ask yourself the question associated with each factor:

  • Hyper-local. Are you experimenting with technologies that engage customers on a highly geographic (e.g. within 1 foot) basis? (Example: iBeacon)
  • Targeted. Are you piloting any technologies that can customize customer engagement based on who they are or what they feel? (Example: Facial Recognition)
  • Interactive. Have you designed in-store interactive experiences that make it worthwhile for shoppers to actually download your app? (Example: Augmented Reality)
  • Novel. Which technologies will blow the minds of your shoppers? (Example: In-store, glasses-free 3D)
  • Wearable. Have you piloted wearable devices for employees, partners, or customers? (Example: Google Glass)

These are emerging technologies to be sure, and many remain unproven. Yet as one retail banker told me, "tech trends are moving too fast for us to wait -- we need to start learning now." 

My recommendation? Work with your business partners to use these emerging technologies to design a VIP experience -- whitelisting, if you will. Whitelisting entails identifying your best customers and offering them incentives to engage in loyal, iterative, long-term relationships with your brick-and-mortar retail (or other physical) location. 

To learn more about these ideas, I invite you to please read and download the full report here.

J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder


Tech Future

Now that Disney is using tracking devices for people once they get into the park (Disney World) to be able to personally be engaged with characters, this is just a matter of time. While it scares some people that their privacy is being invaded through corporate technology, it has to be realized that businesses are going to use whatever technology they can to increase their connection with clients and customers. We hope that they companies are also investing in security to protect the data they receive from us from others who might not have good intentions.

We hope at least that they're using resources like

Privacy and Security are Huge Indeed!

I agree that privacy and security are big issues here -- for instance, in Japan, 115 retailers were found to be sharing facial recognition data without customers' consent or knowledge.

I'm actually speaking on this topic at Forrester's Forum For Technology Management Leaders: Unleash Your Digital Business
May 5-6, 2014, Orlando

Come see my talk on the 6th!

Best Regards,
j. p.


You hit the nail on the head. Everyone can deploy 1000 beacons, but in the end, it's the application that leverages the technology that makes it all successful. What does Forrester foresee? Everyone downloading the Macy's app, the Nordstrom app, the Public app, the Costco app, and so on? Or will someone like Amazon be able to have deals in place with all these retailers?

We're trying to do something with college, university, museum and art gallery open houses: More information, how it works, etc can be found at our Kickstarter campaign: