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How is the world’s shopping capital using mobile and digital experiences to engage customers in-store?

I’ve previously written about window displays on Regent Street, but that was a scanty survey. Eccomplished has released some more in-depth research into select stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street in London.

Factors such as signage, interactive media, WiFi, mobile interaction and store layout were surveyed in 40 leading retail outlets by a team of researchers.

Shoppers were also canvassed with the aim of ascertaining whether or not digital in-store offers brands the opportunity to stand out. So, how well are stores implementing technology and is there a gap between best practice and reality?

Christmas 2013 saw mobile digital platforms take centre stage with increased ecommerce traffic from smartphones. With more people buying online, one would expect physical retail to adapt according to visitors new habits, whether this is in-store tech or returns.

Digital signage

As the chart below shows, 74% of the stores surveyed don’t use digital signage. Those that do use it chiefly to promote the brand and not products merchandised in-store, or any form of possible in-store interaction.

Digital media in-store

The majority of the 40 retailers that were visited use some form of digital in-store media.

However, platforms are used predominantly for display and with little interaction available between the viewer and the content.

Of the retailers assessed, 33% had some form of digital product signage, but only 25% were using interactive devices to communicate with their customers.

This chart shows the number of stores (of 40) using various forms of in-store digital media.

Interactive digital media

Unsurprisingly, most advanced support for mobile devices and most interaction was found in the technology retailers and departments.

This chart compares tech retailers to fashion retailers. Of course, for tech retailers the in-store interaction is with the products themselves, so this does undermine some of the figures.

Creating space

Again easier for a tech retailer with a relatively small product range, but Apple uses its interactive devices, Wi-Fi and charging stations to create a destination and preclude the need for stock piled high.

Of the stores assessed, only 28% used interactive media or order kiosks. These could be ways to save space in-store for fashion retailers and the like.

Wi-Fi in-store

Only nine of 40 retailers offered free Wi-Fi. Of these retailers, only two presented clear signage and joining instructions.

In nearly 10% of cases, customers could not connect to the Wi-Fi service in-store if one was available.

It was annoying that I had to sign up with Reiss emails to log into the Wi-Fi. I already receive email updates from them, so this seemed pointless.

Mobile engagement

Of the nine retailers offering free Wi-Fi, none sent a personal message. Three of the nine were promoting an app, but did not prompt Wi-Fi users to download it.

The apps that were promoted on in-store signage, when downloaded, didn’t offer information relevant to journey or location.

The researchers suggest shoppers had an unfulfilled appetite for Wi-Fi and social media engagement in-store.

(Topshop's in-store instagram 'Wish you were at Topshop' postcard feature on an interactive device)

Customer view

It isn’t clear what the sample size is here, but the results seem consistent with the 40 stores surveyed.

How useful did you find the digital media in-store today?

  • 32% - Poor: the digital experience was of little value and did not help with the in-store experience.
  • 22% - Below Average: there was some digital engagement yet was only non-specific information.
  • 24% - Average: Experience felt like there was some supporting information delivered by digital.
  • 10% - Above Average: The in-store experience was supported by specific engaging information, with product placements being delivered by some digital media in various places.
  • 12% - Excellent: The entire in-store experience was supported from beginning to end with the support of digital in-store media, which was fully interactive and informative. 

Only four out of 41 retailers’ in-store experience were rated excellent 

End goal?

Digital media and support for mobile digital devices when implemented as part of a well-designed marketing plan can ensure a retailer’s stores become destination points.

The holy grail is then personalisation in-store using customer recognition and multiple datasets.

Ben Davis

Published 13 February, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

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Sille Opstrup, Digital Marketing Manager at Pernod Ricard

I've read lots of articles about using digital in the store environment and how it is not present. I've read relatively little about the consumer needs which in my book should dictate it's role. And for most retailers, I think the consumer question is still largely unanswered....

So perhaps we should start by asking some questions... What digital technology will enhance the consumer experience? What will make them more loyal and perhaps part with valuable data about themselves? How can we use data to make the consumer's overall engagement with the brand a better one, on or offline?

almost 3 years ago

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Stephen Millard

You're absolutely correct Sille. So much of the conversation about digital in store revolves around the tech and not the customer. What we found most enlightening from this research was the comments of the customers in stores. We asked them about what they thought of what was on offer from retailers and what they wanted.

A few examples: The value of digital as a tool for attracting customers into the store was articulated clearly by one customer in KIKO, “The digital ceiling really drew me into the store, it stands out in such a busy street.”

A customer in Gant...“The videos seem a bit pointless since they don’t offer any information and they have no sound.”

“The brand seems a bit dated without digital in-store. I’m surprised that they don’t even have digital advertisements on the walls,” said a shopper at the Swarovski store.

But this was my favourite from a shopper in Hollister...“Shoppers were reminded to download the app at the checkout via a small digital sign. However, no in-store Wi-Fi meant that it couldn’t actually be done!”

There is a wealth of information available to retailers on what their customers want. They just need to ask.

Stephen Millard, CEO, Eccomplished

almost 3 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

@Sille @Stephen

Yes, salient points all. To that end I've been impressed by Marks and Spencer's upcoming store technology.

It really is designed to be of practical use to customers. It includes a virtual rail, which is basically a floor to ceiling touch screen.

One can scan an item of clothing or browse the catalogue to find looks that work. Swiping down will add the item to an iPad basket if you want to check out online.

Store assistants are also armed with iPads - I think we'll see more and more of this.

As M&S and John Lewis start a trend for online orders being attributed to in-store (whether using in-store tech or collecting goods in-store) the similitude between in-store merchandising and on-site publishing will become more apparent.

Interesting times! I'll be covering M&S in-store soon.

almost 3 years ago

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