Tangible vs Touchscreens
As consumers spend more time online, they have become more isolated. As a result, of all our senses, touch is the one taking the greatest hit. When an unmet need occurs in one place, its importance — and its competitive advantage — rises in another. The missing sensorial experience of touch in the digital space will grow in desire and importance in the physical space. Touch will become a key component of the brick-and-mortar experience that retailers can dial up and take advantage of.
Need-based vs. leisure-based shopping
Undoubtedly, many of our day-to-day product needs can be met online. Amazon.com’s Subscribe & Save will replenish toilet paper like clockwork. But unlike needs-based shopping, retail shopping remains a leisure-based activity. Experience-seeking consumers have become exceedingly discerning about where they’ll spend their time and money. To meet growing consumer expectations, there’s a real need for the retail experience to be more engaging and tactile than ever before.
Curated experiences are greater than transactions
In an age of sterile, neatly packaged deliveries, there’s something refreshing about the tactile act of perusing merchandise in-store. Do cyber bots have the capacity to translate the indescribable feel of cashmere in 12-point Helvetica? Doubtful. Retail has the inherent ability to offer a palpable experience rather than a simple transaction. It would behoove retailers to explore nuanced ways to curate and personalise in-store experiences.
It’s time we usher in a new era of higher-level marketing that looks beyond static smartphone screens and considers customers’ senses holistically. From deliberately curated music playlists based on brand and target insights to personalised digital signage based on purchase behaviours and beacon technology to the scent in the air, it’s crucial that retailers understand their targets’ unique preferences.
Applying digital benefits to brick-and-mortar
Undeniably, the digital world has its advantages. Consumers are accustomed to having a seemingly endless amount of personalised content in the palm of their hands. Successful retailers borrow what consumers love about online shopping and apply those conveniences in-store. Amazon Go brings seamless checkout to life, forgoing traditional methods. Inventory at your fingertips? Fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff has implemented RFID tags for interactive stock checks that are as effortless as online shopping. Personalization? Uniqlo’s Union Square storefront is appointed with touchscreen mirrors that serve as virtual fitting rooms.
The way consumers shop is forever changing as technology integrates the online and offline worlds. Consumers are glued to a multitude of screens all day — be it smartphone, tablet or laptop. Once they look up from their backlit retina displays they will be increasingly compelled to seek out real, palpable experiences. Shoppers will particularly crave more tactile interactions in-store, and retailers must begin implementing holistic, higher-level sensorial marketing to create distinct in-store experiences.
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