The New Shopping Experience: On Location and Digital

It’s no secret that the shopping experience is changing with the rise of smartphones and tablets. According to Harvard Business Review, the mobile transformation is affecting the whole shopping cycle from start to finish. This article is the third in a six-part series on retail trends in advance of the 2014 National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention being held next week in New York.

According to the Harvard Business Review, many retailers are enhancing the on-site shopping process with mobile technology, offering customers a best-of-both-worlds experience. 

“It will pay for most retailers to create a more emotionally satisfying in-store experience — the kind customers can’t get online,” wrote Moris Chemtov in a recent article for Stores Magazine. “Some retailers will develop more sophisticated visual displays and cultivate elements of theater that engage all five senses.”              

Southern California-based Road Runner Sports, for example, offers the Shoe Dog program, which enables shoppers to use their smartphones to find the perfect shoe. Nike’s Fuel Station in London takes things a step – or a few hundred steps – further. There, customers can hop on the store’s treadmill to have an action video of them running captured from multiple angles. That video is then sent wirelessly to the iPads of specialists who will review their running styles and recommend the most appropriate shoes.

Some companies are completely redesigning their retail locations to emphasize mobile technology. Italian eyewear giant Luxottica recently opened a 16,000-square-foot store in Australia called the “Eye Hub.” The store is filled with touch-screen mirrors and camera kiosks that allow shoppers to seek friends’ opinions on Facebook before committing to a new pair of frames.

Verizon Wireless introduced a new destination store strategy: enormous visual playgrounds divided into interactive experiential zones. These lifestyle zones offer customers hands-on opportunities to use wireless tech in creative and fun ways. The first destination store opened in November at Mall of America® in Minnesota. 

Verizon Wireless plans to transform its 1,700 retail locations into Smart Stores, helping customers understand how they can do more with mobile technology. They each have an area dedicated to free Wireless Workshops for customers wanting to learn the basics about their new devices, such as how to set up email on their tablet, or for those looking to get the most out of their devices.

For many companies, the newfound emphasis on mobile technology represents a radical new way of doing business: one that merges the traditional and online shopping experiences.

This article is part of a series on retail trends in advance of the 2014 National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention being held in New York.