Comment : Touch, smell, taste, sound and vision as customer experiences


— Stores are here to stay due to five simple reasons. Shopping is about experiences ─ using our five senses ─ which can only happen in a store. —

SeoggiKim. Vice President and team leader of the Enterprise Business Team, Samsung Electronics

Let's get one thing straight : e-commerce will not kill the physical retail store. Despite the digital world disrupting our shopping habits, stores, are here to stay due to five simple reasons. Shopping is about experiences ─ using our five senses ─ which can only happen in a store.

However, in order to survive, tranditional brick-and-mortar retailers have to do more than simply putting up a web store and having a Twitter handle. Consumers now expect flexible, interactive and information-rich services, not just online, but in-store as well. According to some estimates, smartphone usage in the shopping experience could impact up to $752 billion in sales by 2016. This is a huge opportunity for retailers. British department store John Lewis, for example, reported that customers who visit both their stores and website spend for times as much as those only coming to one or the other.

The solution, though, is not divergence from the real world to online, but integration of both ─ by 2016, online sales will still only account for just 7-9% of retail sales.

For example, we all know the oldest tool stores have to entice their customers ─ the poster ─ is dead. It takes weeks to replace, it's static, and cetainly not fit to engage today's millennial customers. The digital poster is far more in vogue today ─ they are updated within minutes, are reliable and cost-effective to run, and, most importantly, they really change how a shop interacts with its customers.

Be creative. Why not transport your costomers to their holiday destination with huge life like images on th screen? Excite them with real-time weather reports from nearby ski resort or the beach. Or be like Kenzo, who used bespoke video walls and devices to convey the same high-spirited, youthful brand image into the store ─ taking the energy of the online experience into the statics retail environment to create an immersive customer experience.

It's not just about giving customers the wow factor, it's about an experience that will turn them into loyal shoppers.

Digital is also about empowering your sales force ─ giving staff on-the-spot access to every kind of information a shopper might want, and improving efficiency by giving them a real-time view of the stock room. Digital allows retailers to engage shoppers and increase thelifetime share of wallet from their target customers. At the same time, they will be able to adapt in real time to today's fast-changing retail environment.

This is only the beginning though, as the future of retail will continue to be defined by the customers themselves. The businesses that succeed in this evolving environment will be the ones that bring together the right devices, solutions and services to provide experiences far beyond customers' wildest dreams.

published by UK Retail Week