How Digital Technologies Have Changed The Retail Store

One of my first jobs was as a sales associate at a clothing store, after which mall shopping lost any of the leisurely appeal it once held. I still find myself folding clothes I didn't unfurl and fixing hanger hooks to all face the same direction. Chalk it up to knowing how the sausage is made, or perhaps a logical side effect of working in eCommerce research, but I do most of my shopping online these days.

The store shopping experience hasn’t changed much since my time as a sales associate. But that’s all about to change. We’re at the beginning of a retail transformation: The growing percentage of retail revenues driven by eCommerce and the influence of digital technologies on consumer behavior and expectations alike means that retailers are being forced to reevaluate the value proposition of the store. The result? A digitally enhanced retail store.

Today, a mix of technologies are coming together to marry the online and offline experiences to revolutionize in-store shopping and the role of the physical store. However, we’re still in early stages. Many of these initiatives remain in experimental phases, and glaring success stories are few and far between. Despite the rarity of iron-clad business cases for these initiatives, eBusiness professionals and their colleagues in store operations are forging ahead.

Together with eCommerce technology analyst Adam Silverman, I recently published a report laying out the current state of digital store initiatives and the promising opportunities a digital store overhaul represents for retail. Some of the ways retailers are transforming retail stores include:

  • Leveraging Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE)/Beacon technology, Wi-Fi and GPS to bring web-style analytics in-store.  Retailers are using these technologies to understand customer behavior on a granular level and optimize the store environment in near-real time.
  • Saving online sales and lowering shipping time/costs with ship-from-store. Retailers are fulfilling online orders from store locations close to the customer or those locations where products are most likely to be discounted.
  • Empowering associates with mobile point-of-service devices to engage and serve customers. Line-busting and “check out anywhere” reign supreme, but other service-related tasks like online ordering of out of stock items are being added to mobile tools in employee hands.

For examples of these initiatives and more in action, see the report (client access required).

What ways do you see the digital realm infiltrating the retail store?

I look forward to your thoughts, 

Lily

Comments

Great post. I worked 15 years

Great post. I worked 15 years in Retail Management and switched careers about two years ago. The company I worked for didn't see the how implementing new technology in store would help with bottom line, BUT they were interested, slightly, in making use of shoppers own devices. Makes sense, considering our personal technology develops quicker (and cheaper) than comparable hardware in-store. Leveraging social media to encourage us to share physical experiences with one another was a good way of getting around that fact. Creating hahtags and encouraging shoppers to share "finds" on social media is proving to be quite successful for the company I worked for, and other retail stores nationwide. One small leap....

@BurkettRoad

I liked very much both your

I liked very much both your post and the associated report. I do agree that the digital real infiltrating the retail store is a very strong tendency for the near future, specially when we use the power of big data and analytics to better understand the shopper and to provide a differentiated experience when dealing with the store on or off line. I just have some doubts about the adoption speed and the maturity level a retailer should have to implement this technologies. Here in Brazil we have an additional difficulty to address, usually tan retailer on-line operation is kept apart from the off-line business and both are treated by each other as fierce competition. This. in my view, makes this move of integrating digital capabilities to the brick and mortar store something very difficult, if not impossible. I imagine that US will adopt this technologies transforming it in a mandatory move to all retailers but places that implement this separated strategy will probably face serious difficulties to adapt to this new retail landscape.

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