In the classic 1995 movie, Clueless, the over-indulged fashionista Cher Horowitz has a virtual cupboard to coordinate her huge fashion collection and choose a look for school that day. Little did ’90s moviegoers know that this idea would become common in retail to help shoppers choose the right look and enhance their in-store shopping experience.
Best of both worlds
With online shopping becoming easily available, there’s a concern that fewer people will be visiting physical shops. But what if you could use technology to enhance the customer experience in-store? The physical shop is set to undergo changes with advances in technology that will involve everything from merchandising to the way that customers engage with products.
With 3D scanning technology, shoppers can enter their body dimensions to see what an item of clothing will look like on them. This virtual fitting room is not only convenient for trying on clothes but also makes sharing on social media a cinch for instant feedback from friends. It will result in fewer returns and a more exciting shopping experience overall. Shoppers could also create a profile, record their style preferences and even make use of a personal shopper service that will suggest similar or matching items.
Some forward-thinking retail outlets have already used this technology to turn their shop windows into a virtual changing room allowing passersby to use a touch screen to engage with products. Window shoppers can then save the item for later on their phones. The experience is engaging for the person trying on items (who will probably go into the shop at some point after) and for other potential customers passing by who will be intrigued and pulled into their own journey.
Digital shopping experience
Many shoppers access digital information for finding locations, using online reviews or research on products. Shoppers nowadays already have a different buyer journey because of their smartphones – businesses are becoming more digital and giving consumers an online offering to complement their in-store experience.
Many people find digital information crucial in the decision-making phases of the buyer journey. But retailers need to combine the strengths of the in-store experience (being able to see/touch/engage with objects in person) with an engaging digital offering to take advantage of a technologically-savvy market. How can retailers take advantage of the opportunities of digital technology?
Digitising the in-store experience
Online search platform zoovu.com recently posted a blog on how the in-store experience can be digitised describing different ways that evolving technology is making digitisation possible:
- Augmented reality for customers to try on different styles.
- Virtual reality that gives customers the opportunity to experience a product that isn’t in the shop (for example, the interior of a car that isn’t on the lot).
- AI to track what products customers have bought in the past so that employees can have a more informed interaction with them in-store.
- Voice AI to assist customers even further with viewing products on the shelf and self-checkout.
- Facial recognition that can be used to make purchasing products very convenient.
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