For consumers today, shopping is all about speed, convenience and flexibility. They want to shop anywhere and anytime, which requires a seamless experience whether they’re in-store or online. In fact, retailers need to break down the silos of “on-line” and “in-store” and embrace the fact that “digital real-estate” and “bricks-and-mortar real-estate” must be morphed to deliver to the evolving consumer experience. While e-commerce is the significant piece of the modern-day shopping experience, 90% of retail purchases are still made in stores. In fact, 95% of all retail sales are the result of some combination of online, mobile, and in-store interaction along the path of purchase. For retailers to succeed in this new era, they need to use technology to both enhance the in-store experience and bring physical and digital shopping into one omnichannel retail sale transaction.

Close Proximity – Smartphones

Sensors near the entrance to stores need to identify loyal customers, and make offers to ensure engagement and interact with the point of sale database for example: a regular purchaser of vitamin supplements passes by a pharmacy, and systems notes the last time they bought a month’s supply of multivitamin was 2 months ago, test for a one-off offer is sent (valid for 20 minutes) with an offer on these products. The question will soon arise as to who controls the close proximity space outside a store within a shopping centre?

Shop Assistants – Product Experts

Shoppers want information at their fingertips by scanning the product tag or entering the item number (QR code) into their smartphone, shoppers can get the product information, sizing, colours, associated products and accessories even stock available in store

Shop Assistants/Sales Staff become product experts when provided with an arsenal of information at their fingertips with mobile digital devices. Empowering them to be personal marketers, service providers and product experts with the ability to provide a mobile point of sale, for example, Apple Stores.

Stores of the Future NOW!

Retailers need to transform their delivery now. This will require a review of how traditional and quite frankly outdated, merchandising and store planning along with the physical appurtenances of the premises that will bring omnichannel retailing to reality. A vision is required for Retailers, Retail Designers and Shop Fitters to take up the challenge to ensure in-store retailing not only remains relevant but exceeds the current consumer experience as the new norm.

Virtual Dressing Room/Show Rooming

3D scan allows shoppers to be discreetly measured virtually and even try on outfits, view product ranges/colours in store or at home.  Removing any barriers to purchase of the extended assortment online. Data on what customers try on versus what they purchase can create customer insights that drive product recommendations.

Embracing ‘showrooming” (where customers come in store try, touch and assess your products then go home and shop online elsewhere) is vital. This can be achieved through a range of technics including in-store “buy now” offers, price matching, risk and lead time benefits.

Interactive Fixtures and Displays

Research shows that shoppers are 60 to 70% more likely to buy something they touch or pick up in a store. Interactive store displays attract shoppers and use of projectors and sensors to serve up rich media content when products are picked up. Shoppers getting access to product information, reviews and other content right at the point of purchase.

After-Hours Pickup

Shoppers and Retailers have not fully embraced the concept of buy online, pick up in store (“click n collect”). On-line only Retailers are ahead of the curve here, where shoppers can order online and then receive a code that will allow them to pick up the merchandise from a post office locker or nominated point (i.e. Big W) as a 3rd party location at their convenience. Introducing pick up lockers near the store, or even as part of the shop front can provide the edge for omnichannel retailers to catch up.

Leasing for the Store of the future now

Planning for these new stores and the transformation of current stores requires a new level of thinking when negotiating Retail Leases. These will need to include futuristic vision to ensure that Retailers can remain flexible throughout current and new lease terms, with elements such as category one items like internet capacity and speed, access to after-hours lockers.

The challenge is not in front of us, it is here now and it will be those who strive to transform and deliver that will remain profitable, relevant and not end up on the list of Retailer failures that have filled the business pages over the past 12 months.