Retail is changing. Consumers are better informed than ever before, and the introduction of mobile technology has removed all geographical boundaries when it comes to shopping. Add to that the catastrophic shift in shopping behaviour enforced by the pandemic, and brands are left with a very different challenge when it comes to driving sales and gaining market share.
We talk to our Head of Innovation & Production, Aaron Henderson about the innovations driving the future of shopping and how sensory technology will be pivotal, even where ‘touch’ is no longer an option.
What have been the biggest changes in shopper behaviour during lockdown and how has this affected brands’ future sales strategies?
Back in the archaic, primitive handshake, hug and heady stadium sing-song days of 2019 Gartner predicted that consumers will shop in AR online and in-store by 2020. They’ve not been far wrong as there has been an increased demand for the touchless, digital face of AR systems to enable a virtual try before you buy option.
Several brands had started to adopt this technology before the impact of Covid-19 with the use of virtual fitting rooms in virtual spaces. However, social networks and smartphones enable this new breed of shoppers to interact with brands’ products from their own homes in an attentive way and in response from the brand, they can now make it a more personalised service too.
What does the future of physical and omnichannel shopper experience look like?
The opportunity to ‘pop up’ across multiple locations at minimal cost not only explodes the brand presence but does so whilst increasing sales. Imagine a large retailer like Macy’s that has significant presence in the US and global website but has limited exposure beyond that certain demographic. If overnight, they were to install 100 mobile store kiosks in airports across the UK (assuming we all get traveling soon) or any other country, the Macy’s brand would have exploded overnight without having to do a survey, hiring / training staff or filling with stock etc.
Then to be able to add a highly engaging digital platform to allow consumers to interact, body scan virtual try on, search, order add to mobile shopping basket to pay privately then have delivered via a unified execution engine which transforms knowledge on those customers into actionable comms and present personalised promotional offers via the collected data.
What is ‘mixed reality’ and how will this play a part in the future of retail?
Offering enhanced mixed commerce reality turns shopping into entertainment. The importance of this platform is that it can be accessed anywhere, allowing the consumer to visualize the items in the same conditions they would have been used to previously using either or both AR and VR. Those whom have experienced shopping from the comfort of their own homes can now be driven by unique, immersive experiences without getting off the couch.
The next phase will be integration of linguistics by fully utilising Alexa, Cortana and Siri however the recent spate of concerns regarding privacy issues prevent these technologies from accelerating at pace forward. A joke by the actor James Franco sums this up nicely: “My wife asked me why I spoke so softly in the house. I said I was afraid Mark Zuckerberg was listening! She laughed. I laughed. Alexa laughed. Siri laughed.”
What are the new and existing technologies that are stepping up in this space?
Upgrading touch to touchless by using gesture technology is revolutionising the way we interact with digital content through sensitive and engaging customer interaction tools. BMW have been using gesture tech in their 5 & 7 Series marques, Nike, Adidas and Amazon Go have all led the way with early adoption of this technology.
How are MKTG helping brands navigate the future of retail?
MKTG brings together online and offline shopping experiences into a store environment - a critical factor in the omnichannel shopping experience – using technology that’s been adapted to the new age of shopping where ‘touch’ is no longer an option.
Our modular approach enables brands to introduce in-store technology as business needs dictate. From virtual mirrors and gesture controlled integrative shop windows, through to loyalty apps, RFID-enabled technology, and remote content management, MKTG has a dynamic solution for any store, of any type.
Using innovative, immersive experiences that have been integrated seamlessly into a store environment, our platform enhances every customer touchpoint, creating a shopping experience like no other, and ultimately provides invaluable consumer data to the retailer.