It wasn’t that long ago that the industry was saying, “Retail stores are dead!” and “The malls of America are empty and closing for good!” But with a new focus on interaction and engagement with consumers in retailers such as Rebecca Minkoff and Ralph Lauren, there could be a whole new world of retail.
Retailers have been trying to find ways to combat the notion that stores are dead and that consumers don’t want to engage with them on a one-on-one basis. And consumers are telling them they want to engage, but in a new digital way.
Take Rebecca Minkoff, for example, and the now famous magic mirror. Consumers really like the feel of control and assistance it puts at their fingertips, literally. In a way, it is a personal shopper that knows shoppers best by what information they provide to it. In fact, according to Rebecca, the experience is much like her personally giving individual clients customized recommendations. As she told Fortune, “Now we are helping in a way that is more meaningful…I can be the person they are getting a great recommendation from”.
Polo Ralph Lauren recently launched a similar magic mirror experience, New Balance uses touchscreens to allow shoppers to custom design sneakers, Sephora captures images of customers’ faces in order to deliver customized contouring instructions via email…and the list of “phigital” experiences goes on.
So what does this all mean? It means the stores of the future we all talked about so many years ago are here in a small way, and soon to be a bigger way. Many retailers are looking for ways to engage their consumers while they are in store. How this is done is critical, and the key to success is driven by the experience they deliver to the consumer, what they are able to capture about the consumer, and more importantly, what they plan to do with that information.
And of course, retailers should not just do something for the sake of doing it. In-store technology must be adapted to each particular business, product and brand, and the experience must end with a drive to a sale. That is the goal ultimately, right?