While some have predicted that brick-and-mortars are dying, others predict they will rise again due to modernization and with new technology. Millennials and Gen Z: Two generational cohorts that defines generations born after early 1980s. These generations have been giving indicators that they like the new and experimental ways of doing retail that has been developed lately. For instance, they are happy to try out new technology and they will give away information about themselves if it is for their own benefit.
Augmented reality games
Pokemón Go has been a huge hit this summer. Many retailers decided to take advantage of this: Pokemón trainers has been given special discounts in stores, and it is possible to lead shoppers to specific areas of the store in order to show specific products. People seem to enjoy this. It is giving them the feeling that the retailer tries to relate to them and understand what they like. This game is just one example of how augmented reality can be used for retail. AR is expected to become a crucial part in modernizing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.
Furthermore, robots are now being drawn into the retail world. Both to help employees and customers. On the customer side, we now see that robotic shopping carts is one of the ways robots might help improve the shopping experience. For employees, robots can be used to track inventory and make sure that shelves are always full. Using robotics is a way to help store attendants give more attention to their customers, not worrying if shelves are empty or products are misplaced.
The importance of mobile
New technology also is being used to capture more shoppers. Millennials like receiving messages on their phone while shopping and research shows that more and more are using their phone while in store. Mobile is improving the in-store shopping experience. Social media is also playing an important role because the Gen Z prefers to shop at retailers who interact with them on social media. They often browse through a retailer’s social media profile looking for inspiration while they are in a store.
Bridging the online and offline customer experience
Retailers who are willing to use innovative technology as a tool for improving the shopping experience have the best shot at winning new customers and increasing loyalty with existing ones. Trends show that people are using digital ways to look at products, but often make the final purchase decision in store. Bridging the online and offline experience is therefore something that retailers need to integrate into their overall strategy.
The brick-and-mortar experience needs to be modernized by new and innovative technology. Retailers must take advantage of the fact that millennials are excited about new technology, and less sceptic to give away information if it is for their own benefit. In order to keep brick-and-mortars alive, retailers have to keep up with technology trends and act fast on how to use them.
Author: Ingvild Karine Sandmo
Also published on Medium.