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The use of digital technology in bricks and mortar stores has increased rapidly over the last few years. 

I've deliberately excluded mobile here, as that will be the topic of my next article, but here are a few examples of how retailers are using interactive mirrors, video, and touchscreens to enchance the in-store experience for shoppers. 

Burberry

Burberry's flagship London store aims to bring some of the web experience to the high street, featuring mirrors that double as video screens and staff armed with iPads.

Other clever tricks include the use of radio-frequency identification technology (RFID), which triggers related catwalk footage when some products are taken into a fitting room, or near a video screen. 

burberry

A mixture of the practical and experiential. 

Tommy Hilfiger

This is an old one (from 2008) but still a good idea which could be developed for window shopping.

This campaign encouraged shoppers to leave their images for use in a collage of images being shown in shop windows. 

hilfiger

Nordstrom

Nordstrom uses mobile POS devices in its stores to enable staff to check out customers anywhere in its stores, and cut the queues down. 

New Balance

The New Balance iPad app is deisgned to help customers and sales assistants in store, allowing them to access the product catalogue, check stock, and help with sizing issues. 

Nike FuelStation 

This interactive store in London's pop up Boxpark mall uses motion-sensitive mirrors which display footage of local runners wearing products from the store as customers walk past them. 

It also uses interactive touchscreens to allow customers to access further information about products, and order online. 

Audi City

Audi's digital dealership, Audi City, contains no cars, only huge screens on which customers can view and choose their preferred features. 

The new digital showrooms are designed to fit into an area the size of a regualr shop, and are designed for city centes where traditional dealerships aren't possible.  

Alexander McQueen

The flagship store in London contains touchscreen tables which project images onto large video screens: 

Primark

Primark's new Newcastle store uses video screens, including the giant screen seen here:

(Image credit: Graham Soult) 

According to retail expert Graham Soult

The screen does communicate some product information, including pricing, but I think its primary value is in what it says about Primark as a business: namely, that it’s the biggest, best-looking and most modern store on the street.

M&S

M&S launched its flagship store in Chesgire Oaks last year, replete with iPads, lots of video and QR, and these nifty virtual mnakeover counters: 

Tesco 

Tesco has trialled touchscreen kiosks in several stores. These allow for stock checking and ordering: 

The retailer has also used interactive mirrors which allow users to try clothes on 'virtually' using a gesture based interface. 

House of Fraser

The retailer launched a series of House of Fraser.com stores in smaller retail units to support its Buy and Collect service. 

The stores, similar in concept to John Lewis' 'At Home' outlets, uses touch screens and kiosks to allow customers to order for delivery to shop or home.

These stores allow House of Fraser to provide access to its whole product range without the need for the shopfloor space of its usual stores. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, so please suggest any great examples you've seen in stores... 

 

Econsultancy's JUMP event on October 9 is all about creating seamless multichannel customer experiences. Now, in its fourth year it will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year it forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza. 

Graham Charlton

Published 18 July, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Nicholas

Its amazing to see how media and technology continues to transform or everyday experiences. It will be interesting to see how people react to these changes and the affects it will have on shopping.

over 3 years ago

Eric Layland

Eric Layland, President at Canna Ventures

Cool toys but how does monthly revenue per sq ft (or meter) compare to cost per sq ft? I know these "stores" (e.g. the Audi concept) are more about marketing and customer experience. Cool none the less and certainly some of these tests will find their way into non-flagship locations.

over 3 years ago

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Marketing Gal

Its just crazy the way technology has changed shopping.When I was a kid, they shuffled you into a dressing room, with a hanger that had a number on it, and if you had too many clothes, you had to leave some out. After an hour of getting dressed and undressed, you might be able to find a couple of things with buying. Now with the push of a button and no fear of messing up your hair, you can try on anything you want ! Amazing!

over 3 years ago

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Sean Owens

I think alot of these are transient clever tricks that once they go mainstream then turn into a turn off for the customer.

The trick is being first with the innovation and hoping you get the max from it before it becomes the norm.

I really like the idea of the click and collect only stores. It does bridge the gap between the online and offline nicely whilst not loosing the pleasure of shopping.

over 3 years ago

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Kris Hunt

Some nice examples here, showing how technology can bring some entertainment and intrigue to the physical retail environment. I’m yet to see many that also drive sales though. The key is finding the solution to a problem rather than selecting a piece of technology then trying to come up with a reason for using it.
One of my favourite examples is the use augmented reality at the Lego stores which enables you to see what the kit will look like when built, complete with moving parts and animated figures (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UxWkZtUKaI). It might not necessarily increase sales, but it certainly adds a sense of delight to the shopping trip.

over 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Eric - many of these examples are just being trialled so we're short on data for effectiveness right now.

I'd wager that the House of Fraser model is working pretty well, as we know the popularity of click and collect, and HoF and John Lewis wouldn't be opening more if they weren't delivering.

I also think that, while some of the flashier concepts from the high end stores may work well in London, I don't expect to see them in Middlesbrough anytime soon...

over 3 years ago

Mike Hann

Mike Hann, Director at Poq Studio

Nice article. Here's a more recent example of window shopping from Kate Spade: http://mashable.com/2013/06/22/kate-spade-saturday-window-shops/

Looking forward to the mobile post, Graham!

over 3 years ago

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Superjeans

No doubt these use cases all look cool and showcase interesting technology, but do they work? What do customers think?

The retail store has to serve a purpose. What is it trying to do? What does it offer that online doesn't?

Technology in retail stores needs to facilitate the physical shopping experience and not just mimic the digital shopping experience.

over 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Superjeans You're right. The intention here is to showcase what some brands are doing.

Ultimately, it has to be worthwhile in some way, though the experiential thing may be enough justification for brands like Burberry and McQueen.

Some are very practical and have an obvious ROI, such as the Nordstrom example, and the use of smaller stores by House of Fraser.

over 3 years ago

Minter Dial

Minter Dial, President at The Myndset CompanySmall Business Multi-user

Great piece Graham. The relative newness of the "digitail" (digital in retail) idea brings with it normal teething pains: how to track/measure effectively (not just in terms of sales), glitches and bugs, integration into a bigger business objective...

For much of what we have seen to-date, the inability to define the objective and measurement criteria has been a stumbling block for continued pursuit. Many are conceived as short burst stunts or experiments, or done in isolation. I think one of the key elements often overlooked is the integration with the staff and key stakeholders.

A few other examples I have observed coming from elsewhere:

Adidas NEO in Nuremberg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZXucLUfh0U

Karl Lagerfeld in Paris (en français, but with plenty of pictures) http://www.e-marketing.fr/Diaporama/Le-concept-store-branche-de-Karl-Lagerfeld-51871/Made-in-Saint-Germain-des-Pres-44.htm

You also ought to check out M&S's digital initiative in Kalverstraat in Amsterdam: http://www.retail-week.com/stores/in-pictures-marks-and-spencer-interactive-store-in-amsterdam/5048990.article

I've also noticed that restaurants have been doing some interesting things (from LV, Moscow to Shanghai) with their menus, business accessories, wine lists.

over 3 years ago

Pete Williams

Pete Williams, Managing Director at Gibe Digital

Quba & Co, a reasonably small chain of stores with it's own branded clothing here in the South West of England has I-pads in store, allowing customers to customise a range of clothing from Jackets to bags.

Goes to show you don't have to be one of the big 10 or some uber-brand to use technology in store. This trickle down effect is when it will really be accepted by consumers and retailers.

Ohh and yes it makes them money, sales have increased by 106% since launch in Dec 2012.

over 3 years ago

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Dan Root

Luxury travel experts, Destinology have recently ventured into the high street having been an online only entity.

They've seen a gap in the market as a modern take on what you'd normally expect from a travel agency, walking around their Wilmslow location is more reminiscent of an Apple store than a Thomas Cook: http://goo.gl/YSg2b0

Great article Graham.

over 3 years ago

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Nabiha

The Brazilian fashion brand C&A incorporated Facebook Likes into LED screens on the hangars of clothes. The Facebook likes were updated in real-time as people hit the Like button for that product on Facebook. In-store, people choosing between outfits could easily determine the most popular ones.
Brilliant integration of virtual in real world.

over 3 years ago

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Learner Zhang, Student at University

It explains why Alibaba exceed the whole pace of business in China. Customer could use alipay (an online payment and transaction, extremely convenient, with limited risk) even in small shops, such as local restaurants, or even pay for taxi fees in China, especially in Beijing. Alibaba almost benefit the whole business by combining internet, banking, and shopping together.

over 1 year ago

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Matthew Boulding, Head of Marketing at BrandPipe

Its interesting given this article is 2 years old, businesses are still slow to adopt radical changes with technology. I suppose given the cost and investment plus the lack of data its hard to really drive a business case. We looked at the use of Microsoft Kinect for marketing campaigns in a recent blog http://bit.ly/1Byf3XB and most again were back in 2012 showing that take up is still lagging when it comes to technology.

over 1 year ago

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