Designing a seamless and innovative retail customer experience in 2019 - Part 1
- 7 mins read
Published on Monday 1st April 2019
In part 1 of this 2 part blog post, we explore why it’s vital for retailers to keep up with constant innovation. Transforming shopping into a more customer-centric, engaging experience with the help of digital technologies is essential for retailers that want to succeed in the future.
How is the industry suffering right now?
'Nearly 3,800 stores are expected to close their doors by year’s end.'
With the growth of online competition, it’s become repeatedly more difficult to stand out in a crowded marketplace and high street retail brands are feeling the pinch. Retailers that refuse to innovate and grow alongside the industry have been repeatedly shut down as a result.
Extremely recently (09/04/19), Debenhams have announced they are going into administration. According to Express, last year the well-loved department stores made a loss of £491.5m.
Here are some other prime examples of retail giants falling victim to online commerce in recent years:
Toys R Us
Online competition hit Toys R Us hard, resulting in 105 stores being closed, and the loss of over 2,000 jobs causing a huge social stir.
BHS struggled with online competition and under-investment and their final stores were forced shut in late 2016.
House of Fraser
Having once been a department store giant, House of Fraser went to administration in August 2018 as a result of having insufficient funds to put towards improving its online operations and failing to maintain the credibility of its high-street stores.
The high-end fashion retailer LK Bennett, went into administration at the beginning of March, losing hundreds of staff in 41 outlets.
'9 out of 10 senior decision makers believe retailers that fail to digitally transform will go out of business by 2024'
Why not shop online? There’s a wider range of stock available, the consumer can shop whenever and wherever they are, and the item is conveniently delivered right to their door whenever they desire. Amazon, for example, is a huge competitor to almost every retailer on the market. Amazingly, Amazon alone accounted for £4 in every £100 spent on retail in a year (Verdict 2018). And it is only growing - Amazon accounted for 33.5% of all UK spend online in 2017 versus 29.6% in 2016 (Verdict 2018). With its Prime delivery service and over 606 million product list (Scrape Hero 2017), retailers now need to give consumers more in-store, in order to compete. Although Amazon is well-known as a pure play online retailer, they have recently launched some physical grocery stores in America called “Amazon Go’, where customers are automatically charged for their shopping when they leave the store.
Ironically, in a growingly virtual and technology-mad world, people are craving real-life experiences more than ever before so retailers need to aim to cater to these demands in order to challenge competitors.
Why do retailers need to engage customers more?
With the rise of online commerce, many are under the impression that high street retail is a fast dying breed. In 2017, online-only sales increased by a large 15.9%, whilst sales in-store in the previous year only grew by 2.3% (Office for National Statistics 2018).
‘92 percent of shoppers said they already consider smartphones their primary device to browse and shop.’
However, for brands who are innovating, online platforms are now becoming an accompanying feature to an in-store immersive brand experience. The idea of digitally aided experiential shopping is fast becoming the norm in the modernised retail industry.
Having a digital accompaniment creates a more accessible and immersive personal customer experience of a brand. According to Forbes (2017), customers who enter a physical store are much more likely to make a purchase than customers visiting a website, so making the in-store experience the best it can possibly be, will help to boost brand loyalty and sales.
Consumers expectations are rising constantly, including their expectation for brands to provide a seamless and consistent connection between online and offline experiences, with innovation as the driving force. Amazon, for example, has opened several physical bookshops in the US and in addition to the Amazon Go stores, they give the impression that they believe this to continue to be a success. Strategy should include both online and offline retail- to simply run one of these would mean they may not sustain a competitive advantage in the future.
'85,000 jobs lost from Britain’s high streets as retailers feel the pinch'
Who is innovating well?
Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Magic Mirror’
Charlotte Tilbury is a globally successful luxury makeup and skincare brand founded by Charlotte herself. The brands mission is to “Make every woman the most beautiful version of themselves.”.
The Charlotte Tilbury ‘Magic Mirror’ was designed to enhance customer's shopping experience, allowing shoppers to look into the virtual mirror and see which makeup look and products suit them best. This virtual mirror draws thousands of makeup fans into their London stores each year to ‘try before they buy’, giving consumers a reason to come into store, and not just guess which look/products they suit. The mirror is also equipped with a share function, where users can take a selfie and upload onto their social media, email it to themselves or send it to a friend or family member for a subtle hint. The introduction of the ‘Magic Mirror’ was the world’s first in-store interactive touchscreen in the retail beauty industry and is hugely successful in enhancing consumers self-perception and in turn making them more likely to purchase.
‘Burberry World Live’
Founded in 1856, Burberry is a global luxury fashion brand with a distinctly British attitude."Burberry Regent Street brings our digital world to life in a physical space for the first time, where customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online. Walking through the doors is just like walking into our website. It is Burberry World (their website) Live.” Angela Ahrendts - CEO of Burberry
Although the technology of RFID tags is still being explored, Burberry has been way ahead of the game and has had their products in-store fitted with the tags since 2012. Shoppers can use their phones to scan these tags to gain access to extra content – this could be a video of the craftsmanship behind a product or it may trigger a runway video showing the product on a runway model.
Burberry have completely internalised the growing need for a smooth customer journey in order to grow their relationship with customers and retain their loyalty to the brand. With this in mind, store assistants are able to take payments anywhere in the store, minimising ques and allowing the chance for employees to create more of a VIP and personalised experiences for Burberry customers. There are also iPads for kids to draw on in-store to allow parents a stress free period of shopping. The Regent Street store is now considered an iconic part of the London shopping experience and a must to experience for all fashion lovers with its innovative technology as well as it’s beautiful interior and luxury decor.
How Graphite can help….
We have worked alongside successful retailers such as Costa, Uniqlo and Safilo to create innovative digital solutions to their problems and challenges in order to help progress and grow their businesses. We often start this process with a design sprint. Get in touch with us via the form below to talk more about how we can help your business keep up with your competitors by innovating and creating exceptional digital experiences for your customers.
Look out for part 2 of 'Designing a seamless & innovative retail experience in 2019' on the blog very soon!