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The new era of retail

By 2nd February 2016 No Comments

Are you ready for all that digital is bringing to retail (including better profits)?

From giant screens to virtual reality headsets – The retail space is changing

The opening of the new Burberry store in London’s Regent Street in 2012 placed the British luxury brand on the forefront of the digital transformation of the retail space. Since then, a lot of other retailers have also started to integrate online and offline. A German bicycle store Rose Bike Town being one of them. In its new store in Münich, it allows customers to design and tune their dream bikes using the in-store iPads. The results can be seen in 3D on large touch screens in the store. And all this while a video wall at the back of the store is showing content that communicates the brand values.

The TUI integrated concept store of the large European leisure travel group TUI Travel is another good example of integrating digital and physical sales channels. Large video screens on the storefront show high quality content to inspire and excite the customers (n.b. prices, offers or other uninspiring details are not shown on the screen). Inside the store, interactive maps and table sized touch screens are offered for searching the perfect holiday destination.

At Tommy Hilfiger store in New York shoppers were provided with virtual reality headsets. With the headsets, the customers were given a three-dimensional, front-row view of the Hilfiger fall fashion show. For Christmas last year, Burberry launched a 3D campaign on the screens of Piccadilly Circus allowing the visitors to interact with their mobile phones with the famous curved screens. The results – personalised scarves beamed on the giant screens – could naturally also be purchased, online or from the store in Regent Street.

From transaction to interaction – digital means better business

All of the above are examples of the new engagement, entertainment, enrichment, and interaction that retailers are attempting to create with digital in-store strategy. Burberry, TUI and others are integrating online and offline for a seamless shopping experience; consistent and integrated no matter what the point of contact – digital or physical – is. And while some of the examples might be more testing and identifying new platforms of interaction and engagement, there is a lot to it in pure business as well. For example, the TUI concept store showed such a clear increase in sales as well as the average spend in the store that the company soon decided to roll out the same concept and technology to it’s other stores.

TUI is not alone with better performance from the digital transformation of its retail space. A recent study made by the Boston Consulting Group showed that the digital leaders in retail are outperforming their peers that have not yet implemented a digital strategy. In the BCG survey, the 25 fashion retailers in Europe and North America with advanced digital strategies and implementing digital technologies in stores were showing a clearly stronger EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) growth than companies not implementing a digital strategy.

Start-up co-operation or third-party developers – digital innovation is accessible for everybody

The opening of Burberry’s flagship store created a big buzz in the retail industry in 2012. What then seemed possible and available only for a large luxury brand is now available for everybody. The BCG study shows that even smaller investments can deliver good results. Affordable solutions are available for every size of business to use. In many of the examples of successful digital strategy, the solutions were made together with third-party developers – often innovative start-ups. With this kind of co-operation it is possible for even smaller retailers to launch an in-store digital strategy. In-store digital doesn’t necessarily need to mean in-house. In fact, today even the bigger companies often work together with start-ups to keep up with the latest technologies and innovations.

Independent agents like we at Stereoscape have the possibility to speed up the development. Not bound to established ways of working, but instead quick to embrace new technologies, we have the possibility to work as technology accelerators for our clients. Because the truth is that a web page or Facebook or twitter account won’t count for a digital presence anymore.

The new era of retail is already here; it’s technically possible, accessible, affordable, and it is good for your business. What are you waiting for?

– Helena Pekkarinen, freelance writer