The current day shopping experience is going through a revolution with a rise in proximity based technology such as QR codes, iBeacons, NFC and the newest development, mobile payments. The development of the smartphone has been a game changer in our lives and is the one item that retailers and brands can target with relevant location based messaging.

While this rise in technology is fantastic for brands connecting to their audience, what are the actual shopping experience desires for their customers? A recent study by Retail Week asked consumers what would add the most to their shopping experience. Of those surveyed, 74% said value for money and over 50% said convenience. A fun or interactive experience came in at 3%. Whilst iBeacons and mobile apps are great marketing tools, the average customer on the street doesn’t appear to be interested or fears their privacy being encroached. Plus, it is actually hard shopping with a phone in your hand, especially in a supermarket. The definition of what convenience means is up to interpretation, this could be factors such as a desirable item in stock  or easy to find stores. Another category, being able to find what I want, also turned out high at 48%. Delivery lockers to collect online orders was the only result over 20% in terms of desired digital features.

The current survey stats indicate the desired high street shopping experience hasn’t differed at all since technology entered our lives. Consumers want to feel like they are getting value from their purchases, a relevant selection of products and the least hassle possible. Whilst an interactive store isn’t a desired factor for a larger percentage of the current shopper market; as we look to the future and marketing to the millennials generation, this may change.

The issues connecting in-store technology to today’s consumers are twofold. Firstly, the lack of knowledge with consumers around the technology itself. Due to a variety of hacking scandals and the misunderstanding of the technology, consumers take even more protection over their privacy. Consumers are turning off location services to not only avoid battery drain, but specifically so brands and a variety of apps can’t target them with unsolicited communication. Lastly, the technology hasn’t been perfected across all phone brands. Every alternative has a drawback. QR codes need an app, NFC doesn’t work with IPhones and iBeacons need location services and Bluetooth turned on,

When retailers use iBeacons, NFC and QR codes, they need to offer customers a larger incentive to use them. Voucher code sites and Black Friday have confirmed the popularity for discounts is bigger than ever. If desirable promotions can only be activated via this technology, users will be more incentivised to adopt. Once consumers are switched on and familiar with the technology, they can be guided round the store via special offers, facilitating the customer experience as branded retail websites currently do. Websites use testing and data to constantly improve the user experience. This can also be achieved through in-store technology. Not only can you use it to capture data, but also through testing you can ascertain which are the best performing in-store special offers. 

iBeacon shopping experience

Supermarkets have been hit by competition through budget retailers and while most attempt to compete on lower pricing to drive footfall, Waitrose maintain their high price point throughout most lines. Even Waitrose have had to bring in some value lines, but they are listening to their customers’ needs and attempting to increase dwell time. Waitrose are currently trialling baby changing areas, click and collect and even a space to wine and dine. One Waitrose store in North London has been doing cookery classes to great success. It’s innovation such as this where brands can drive footfall by making the store experience convenient for their customers, whilst maintaining their premium price.

A combination of non-digital features that will improve shopping experiences are store layouts, ease of navigation, eye catching POS displays and store windows. Paperchase is a great example of a brand that hadn’t updated some stores since the 80’s & 90’s and recently invested in a store refresh. Not only does wear and tear set in and deter customers, but the way space is used in retail has developed a tremendous amount in the last two decades. Simple store design and ease of navigation are a few of the reasons that John Lewis ranks no.1 with consumers in the UK.

With many shoppers still preferring the high street over shopping online, retailers need to look to the brands at the top of their sector to see what has been working. New digital strategies, when using the correct incentive and technology, can improve the customer experience. However retailers must not forget the non-digital, traditional elements of retail and take the customer desires into account to keep the majority of shoppers coming into their stores. 

Twitter Follow