KEY POINTS

  • To keep up with online retailers, traditional brick-and-mortars are adopting digital technologies meant to enhance the in-store experience. E-commerce sales in the US were up 14% in the second quarter of this year, according to data from the US Commerce Department, compared with growth of just 1% for total retail. Better technology is being used to draw more consumers into stores and help improve slow growth.
  • Brick-and-mortars already have a distinct advantage over online retailers — but they need to start leveraging it. Physical stores offer the ability to actually get up close to a product. 60% of consumers say they would rather shop in stores instead of online because it gives them the ability to touch and feel a product, according to a report from PwC.
  • Many brick-and-mortar retailers have been testing out a number of new digital technologies aimed at bringing the connected experience into the store.
    • Interactive fitting rooms at a handful of retailers are equipped with "magic mirrors" – mirrors with consumer-friendly touch-screen interfaces that enable shoppers to request different clothing sizes or immediate sales assistance.
    • Beacons are one of the most important new consumer-facing retail technologies of the past few years. Many major retailers have implemented beacon programs that allow them to reach consumers on their smartphones while in-store. But so far, many of these integrations are underwhelming.
    • Interactive storefront displays provide a new marketing canvas for retailers. Touchscreen interfaces and motion-sensing TVs displayed in store windows can help retailers draw customers into the store and build up ongoing brand awareness. Some even allow for immediate product purchases.
    • Mobile devices in store associates' hands allow employees to stay informed about products, provide insight into consumers' past purchases, and even facilitate faster checkout. The internet has empowered shoppers, and they expect store associates to be even more informed than they are.
    • Heat mapping technology allows retailers to use their security footage to better understand how consumers are navigating a store and reacting to product displays. This can help retailers make targeted, real-time adjustments to their in-store layout.
  • Though the brick-and-mortar retailers that have recently implemented new technologies within their stores have largely reported positive customer feedback, it's too early to tell if these technologies will actually boost sales and be worth the tech investment. Retailers need to remain cognizant of their customer base to [...]