Since the Dot.com boom, physical retailers have had to face a wave of eCommerce business attempting to steal their thunder. As online alternatives running on 'just in time' low cost models. Heavy on recommendations technology, that leverages our digital footprints, social media and behavioural patterns.
Retailers continue to feel the pain of online competitors cutting into their profits, they will need to step up their digital game to stay competitive. But in a trend we started to see this year, brick and mortar retailers fighting back with a new set of digital weapons to enhance the in-store experience:
a) Cookies for The Real World: Until recently, the digital space has offered a host of measurement capabilities and tracking that couldn't exist in the physical world. However, audience measurement tools like facial recognition, eye-tracking, and Wi-Fi sensors are helping to level the playing field. It is now possible to track how many people are in or near the store, or the gender and age range of customers looking at their digital signage. The metrics gathered from these tools will help companies better understand their consumers and make decisions that increase revenue.
Singapore-based indoor positioning technology firm YFind, has been a key enabler. The company’s service tracks unique visitors as they move through a mall. It relies on Wi-Fi to do this, so it can track users who have their Wi-Fi active on their phones. Because it doesn’t rely on GPS, it can track people indoors, and in dense environments with about 3-meter accuracy, says the company.
b) Digital Shopping Assistants: While 52% of 2011 holiday shoppers with smartphones used their device to help with their purchases, only 19% of retailers have special shopping assistance apps. Developing great apps to enhance the in-store experience will become essential to building customer loyalty and beating the online retailer competition.
c) Indoor Mapping: Google's recent commitment to indoor mapping indicates a growing opportunity for retailers to deliver customized offers and loyalty rewards based on proximity in-store. Consumers can create shopping lists at home on a retailer's app and then easily find products and related offers on site.
All this means the physical store joins the digital ecosystem. With greater data, insights and engagement. Could this create a turning point for retailers?