It’s not a simple case of on and offline – digital technology is increasingly being used in stores. Whether it’s speeding payment, offering a useful service, or simply making the environment more dynamic, we take a look at how five different retailers are using technology to enhance the instore experience.
Kiko Cosmetics Store in Regent Street
Image credit: Misha Terrett
The standalone store, just over a year old, features a LED digitalised ceiling that makes the brand truly stand out from the plethora of cosmetics companies in London, displaying fast moving images of the latest make up colours and products, and inspirational make up looks. In addition with the upbeat loud music playing in the background, entering the store is a truly entertaining and sensory experience. Kiko Cosmetics have used digital technologies that match with their branding values. Three words to describe the store: Dynamic. Contemporary. Cutting edge.
Image credit: Shinya Suzuki
You can now charge your mobile device wirelessly in 10 Starbucks cafes in London, for free (awesome for shoppers without chargers!). The wireless charging is available at: Princes Street, Kingsway, Wardour Street, Pentonville Road, Harewood Place, Berkeley Street, Great Portland Street, Moorgate, Fleet Street, and Euston Tower. Starbucks should benefit as they will also gain more customers signing up to use the free in-store wifi, and therefore add to their database.
Westfield Stratford City
Image credit: Jack Torcello
This shopping centre is becoming a digital hotspot of innovative retailing. Stratford Westfield have taken retailing to a whole new level with events such as Music Cube where artists performed live in a sound proof glass cube to the audience – plugged-in and listening courtesy of state-of-the-art Sennheiser Urbanite headphones. There was even a sensory vibrating floor system enabling the bass to be felt for a fully immersive music experience. They often have different experiential pop up events, that keep the visits to the Olympic City shopping centre interesting, such as the Audi Pop-Up e-tron Experience Centre digital showroom, in January and February 2015. It showcased the new electric car, A3 Sportback e-tron. Visitors could discover everything the car has to offer using the latest technology. For example you could personalise your own e-tron using the instore app, enabling you to change and see everything; from the alloys and colours available, to what’s happening within the engine. Then, you can go for a virtual drive with the Audi virtual reality headset which puts you in the passenger seat of an Audi TT as it is driven around.
Image credit: Misha Terrett
Argos is promoting its newly redesigned concept stores, which aim to push physical-digital boundaries. The stores now have a fresh and modern look with dynamic digital display screens all around the store as well as the shop window advertising products, promotions, and events in store. They offer a new 60-second ‘Fast Track’ collection service for customers purchasing goods online or via mobile devices. Customers can now use the in store iPads, with expanded shopping applications such as product videos and customer reviews, or shop on their mobile via free in-store WiFi, rather than Argos’ classic laminated catalogues, pencils and stock checker machines. The experience is dynamic, fast, self-service efficiency, and you could even say Argos are setting standards for digital retail.
Apple Pay at The Apple Store
Image credit: Ged Carroll
The new Apple Pay allows you to purchase items fast and efficiently, you simply ‘Shop and go!’, i.e. scan and pay with your iPhone. The underlying technology is NFC (which stands for ‘Near Field Communication’), also used with the popular oyster card. And since Apple insists it won’t charge users, merchants or developers to use the service – they will only charge banks a fee – it has the potential to be extremely popular in the UK. And with the Apple Watch due to be launched April 2015 also enabling this technology, retail shopping will certainly be a lot smarter. Imagine the freedom to shop in Topshop and pay for your items anywhere in the store with your phone? Perhaps retailers will do away with till points forever? Apple Pay is to launch in the UK in early 2015.
It is becoming clear that the future of retail shopping is becoming more about the experience than just simply purchasing. It allows customers to lounge, stay, and encounter. And the use of digital technology is leading the way in terms of innovation. For now, though, it seems to be more about projecting a brand image than directly selling, but the future of digital retail is certainly one to be excited about.