In Store Technology to Turn Browsers into Buyers

In Store Technology Immersion Techniques

Here are five techniques to really engage consumers, and turn browsers into buyers.

In-Store Social Media Immersion

Social media isn't just for online consumption. It fact, it is now a top retail expansion strategy being used to bridge the consumers digital and physical shopping experience. For example, one really simple technique I've found that gets more garments into the hands of more shoppers is the use of smart hangers.

The digital hanger scans the garment and then links to that garment's social media page (or curated pages). It displays the number of Likes or similar accolades.

In Store Technology Digital Hangers

It's an easy, cost effective and eye catching technique to get garments noticed and off of hangers and into the consumers hands. It's also useful for analyzing inventory movement and turnover metrics. For example, garments that either don't get picked up by consumers or get picked up but don't sell may need to be retired sooner rather than later.

You can take this technology further by integrating smart hanger movement with beacons to track what consumers picked up but didn't buy. This data can then be used for future email marketing or other campaigns.

Some leading retailers are using social media trending topics to promote in-store merchandise sales. For example, Nordstrom tabulates which items on its Pinterest page get the most pins, a concept it calls Pinspiration. It then marks those items in the store with red tags.

That not only gets those shoppers looking for the latest trend to take notice, but when the shopper then uses their smartphone to scan the UPC label or view the product online, the overwhelming social media buzz delivers a "got to have it" message.

Nordstrom also tabulates the products most being shared on social networks and displays those products on in-store video monitors. According to Nordstrom's social media director, Bryan Galipeau, "We take a snapshot of a trending category once every week, and we will then match that up against our inventory and what's available in those stores so we're providing a good customer experience."

This in store technology concept that can also be applied to digital signage. And where you don't have the exact product that is trending online, you can still match by category to apply what you do have and tap into the social media buzz for sales uplift.

There are many retail use cases where social media doesn't drive e-commerce sales directly but instead influences in-store shoppers near the point of purchase by helping them discover new products or what's trending.

In-Store Video Immersion

According to Gartner, retailers that use targeted messaging in combination with internal positioning systems will seeĀ a 20 percent increase in customer visits.

Entertainment also contributes to the in-store shopping experience and digital signage is increasingly contributing to an integrated mix of targeted messaging and entertainment value.

Digital signage is being effectively used for giant screen displays broadcasting high adrenalin video or social settings most consumers would like to find themselves. Similarly, displaying video use cases for products or curated social media content to isle monitors for nearby merchandise will most assuredly increase product engagement.

Integrating digital signage with branded social networks, entertainment channels, online communities or even better, with individual shoppers based on their loyalty ID or check-in can personalize the display content. It can show how new merchandise compliments prior purchases, raise the endorphin level and deliver a more rewarding and memorable shopping experience.

Apparel retailers are using digital signage so that shoppers can mix and match outfits on touch screen monitors or with virtual motion gestures (with technology such as Microsoft Kinect). In these contexts, the virtual wardrobe displays can substitute for store associates, provide answers to product questions and help consumers discover additional merchandise that compliments products under consideration.

Smart Mirrors

Another high stimulation in store technology is a smart mirror.

Smart mirrors equipped with sensors, cameras and displays are applying machine learning algorithms to estimate a shopper's gender, age and garment choices. They make intelligent suggestions for apparel styles, color choices and accessories. Some smart mirrors use cameras to identify garments while others read an RFID tag on the garment.

Retail Digital Mirrors

Smart mirrors allow the consumer to take an image of themselves wearing the clothes and upload it to their social network. They can adjust the lighting on the mirror to see how they look at different times of the day and in different weather conditions. They can summon a clerk to bring the next available size to the dressing room. They can even display relevant ads when not being used.

When shoppers carry a branded loyalty card or engage with the retailer's mobile app, their purchase history can be used to deliver suggestions based on products they already own.

According to a study in the Pertanika Journal of Science and Technology, smart mirrors that offer suggestions for what to try on in the fitting room accelerate the shopping process and increase sales. In the near term, facial, speech and emotional recognition will further engage consumers and improve the shopping experience.

In-Store Audio Immersion

A European Journal of Scientific Research study found that when retailers play music in stores customers stay longer and spend marginally more than when no music is broadcast.

A subsequent study from the University of Leicester in the U.K. focused more on targeted audio and found that playing French music in the wine section would result in the sale of more French wines while playing German music would similarly result in the sale of more German wines.

Taking it a step further, the University of Stockholm found that when playing sounds of farm animals in the dairy section, supplemented with a narrator talking about the benefits of organic products, consumers stayed 15 seconds longer (55 seconds compared to 40 seconds) than those not exposed to the directional messaging and organic product sales increased almost 10%.

These research results are not surprising but the lessons learned remain under-utilized by most retailers. The biggest revenue opportunity stems from combining directional audio with other in-store visual immersion techniques and segmenting these combinations to specific areas, zones or products within the store.

Near Field Communications

One more in store technology is near field communication (NFC).

Brick and mortar retailers are using billboards and pop-up stand displays with NFC to transmit messaging or promotions to consumers' mobile phones when those mobile devices are within a few feet of the chip.

The consumers may receive product information such as back stories or motion media such as video for the product they are considering. At the same time the retailer increases engagement which as we all know increases sales conversions.

Additionally, the retailer gathers valuable information such as how consumers engaged with goods by display type, store location, product placement and similar variables that can optimize store design. This concept can also take planograms to a whole new level.