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How to bring
digital retail
to your

Author: Mike Elgan

Despite the growing popularity of online retail, good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar retail stores are here to stay. What's changing is customer expectations about the retail experience.

In short, online retail and physical retail each have upsides and downsides. Consumers have come to expect all the upsides (like digital retail technology in stores and easily navigable store flow) and as few of the downsides (long lines and poor customer experiences, for instance) as possible. Many stores are accomplishing this balance by establishing digital experiences and technology in retail stores.

Digital technology in retail stores

Some aspects of digitization may be more powerful in brick-and-mortar stores than in digital retail. For example, with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), consumers can try on virtual clothes and accessories, apply different paint to furniture, and experience products and services in virtual spaces.

These examples of technology in retail stores enable the customization of products, such as custom-made clothing based on an augmented reality fitting. With the optimal hardware, interactive applications, and network bandwidth, retailers have the power to offer customers immersive AR experiences.

Immersive experiences can offer both practical and marketing benefits. They can give customers an incentive to visit physical stores over digital retail, which is a great way to attract new customers to brick-and-mortar businesses. In addition to offering VR/AR goggles, some retail stores are installing AR mirrors for trying on digital clothes, interactive digital kiosks and even floor-to-ceiling screens that customers can interact with.

Retailers can thrill customers with the creative use of location-based services, 3D printing, interactive hangers and changing rooms, beacon-based technologies and more. Grocery stores and drugstores are also installing location-aware shopping carts with built-in touch screens that can answer visitors' questions and direct them to the products they're looking for. Near-field communication (NFC)-enabled carts let customers self-checkout without waiting. And these are just a few examples of ways to digitally power the physical shopping experience with technology in retail stores.

Merging physical retail with digital retail technologies

As retailers blend the benefits of physical and digital shopping, they can create "phygital" customer experiences. Personalization signals and individual preferences collected during each customer's history with the brand, both online and offline, can customize offers, products and options in retail stores.

Digital mannequins and customer-aware signage can display the customer's favorite brands as they walk past. These technologies can also highlight accessories and add-ons that complement items the customer previously purchased. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can also be a great way to guide customers and give them a personalized in-store digital experience, as the customers' own mobile devices can become extensions of the store's brand. A customer may be able to simply snap a picture of a product and have it delivered in their own size.

The new world of phygital retail fully realizes the omnichannel approach to the customer experience, enabling experience continuity, increased insights about customers and, ultimately, maximum customer satisfaction using brick-and-mortar stores as the centerpiece of customer engagement.

The new world of digital-physical retail is here, and your customers are going to love it. Learn more about how AR-enabled retail displays can increase engagement in physical stores.