The convenience of online shopping has elevated consumer expectations for the in-store retail experience. Now there are more options; there is increased competition. While many may prefer to shop online, there are still those shoppers who want to interact with products in person before making a purchase. There are also those who want to immerse themselves in unique, interactive environments and experience something they couldn’t otherwise experience shopping online.
Younger shoppers, in particular, are drawn to new technologies in retail as 49% of Millennial and Gen Z consumers say they’ve gone to physical stores more often in the past year because the stores have enhanced their in-store experiences. By creating an interactive shopping experience, retailers can engage customers during the most critical purchase-decision-making time.
What Kind of Retail Interactions Do People Want?
A study of over 1,600 retail shoppers identified what customers want most:
- 30% liked stores that offered them a drink or snack
- 18% said they liked retail stores offering more personalized experiences
- 17% said they were drawn to special events and entertainment
- 16% appreciated kids’ activities to keep little ones entertained while they shop
- 12% enjoyed mobile shopping experience improvements
Of course, each retailer will need to choose the interactive elements that make the most sense for its brand and constituents. For instance, it wouldn’t make much sense for a hardware store to greet shoppers with food samples at the door. There is room to innovate everywhere, but it all depends on your exact niche.
How to Create a More Interactive Shopping Experience In-Store
For retailers looking to create a unique, interactive shopping experience, consider incorporating the following elements:
Tokinomo is a motion-sensor activated retail experience that uses sound, light, and motion to allegedly boost sales by an average of 200%. Shoppers interact with animated products at the shelf—a crucial decision-making point—while sensors collect valuable data about the interactions.
Small form factor screens can be placed virtually anywhere—on seasonal end caps or permanent displays—to capture attention, invite shoppers to further explore a product line, add another point of sale, help shoppers visualize a product, provide additional information, or simply make shopping feel more fun.
Augmented reality invites shoppers to explore a product range without much effort. For example:
- ASOS leverages augmented reality through its Virtual Catwalk. The feature works when a user points their smartphone camera at a suitable flat surface and clicks the ‘AR’ button on the product page in the app. Models then virtually appear, giving the customer a more intimate way of viewing products.
- Sephora has been using augmented reality since 2016 with its Virtual Artist tool that allows shoppers to scan their own face and virtually try-on cosmetic products such as lipstick or eyeshadow.
- The Ikea app lets shoppers scan the area of their home where they’d like to place furniture and lets them try out different showroom pieces in their space.
People value unique, interesting experiences that enrich their lives, such as these:
- At the Disney Store, Disney characters and cast members host a “welcome celebration” each morning to greet the day’s first customers. Kids play with the in-store playroom’s toys. Large LED screens broadcast Disney Parks’ parades and fireworks live.
- Tommy Bahama dramatically boosted retail sales by adding a bar to its Palm Springs location. On the island of Maui, the brand launched its first food truck.
- Casper’s New York store, “The Dreamery,” offers a whimsical environment, where guests can “rest in unmatched comfort” by taking a 45-minute nap in a private sleeping pod, complete with Casper mattress, sheets, pillows, and a fully-equipped bathroom for freshening up before returning to work.
Interactive mirrors act as private in-store style consultants to help shoppers. Consider these examples:
- At a Ralph Lauren NYC location, customers use interactive dressing room mirrors to virtually try on different items with lighting to match different times of the day. They can select different colors or sizes by pushing a button to alert a sales associate. Complementary items are recommended to go with favorite pieces, while combinations can be saved and sent to shopper’s phones if they aren’t quite ready to buy yet.
- Van Heusen shoppers are allowed to virtually try on outfits by scanning the items’ barcodes and standing in front of the store’s smart mirror and projector. Shoppers can snap pictures in each outfit to see them in a side-by-side comparison.
- At Rebecca Minkoff’s NYC flagship, shoppers can summon stylists, change the lighting, and add favorite items to a personal profile, which can be accessed in future visits. Items can be sent from the virtual fitting room to checkout for added convenience.
The personalization of products has long been popular online, but it’s finally making its way into stores.
- At Levi’s Times Square, shoppers can customize their jeans with photos, images, logos, and text designed by local artists to “create an extension of themselves that ties to the brand.”
- American Girl stores allow children and their parents to customize the eye, skin, and hair color of their dolls, as well as the styling of the outfits to their exact specifications.
- Target offers Wondershop personalizing stations for holiday gifting, where customers can personalize pillows, stockings, shirts, mugs, jammies, toys, ornaments, and gift wrap in-store.
Mobile Shopping Apps
Increasingly, customers are using their smartphones in stores. Smartphones offer quick, easy ways to learn more about products, search for sale items, compare prices, read reviews, and earn and redeem rewards.
Increasingly, customers are using their smartphones in stores.
Shopkick is a unique mobile advertising platform that rewards customers for interacting with the brands they love and those with which they aren’t quite familiar. Shopkick users earn points for simply entering partnering retail locations, for engaging with products at-shelf, anf for making purchases. They can scan product barcodes and follow fun scavenger hunts through the store to earn rewards points called “kicks,” which can be redeemed for gift cards of their choosing.
Incorporating any of these interactive shopping experiences is a surefire way for retailers to engage customers when it matters most.
Ready for a way to create a more interactive shopping experience? Consider working with Shopkick. Contact us to find out why our partners prefer to use our innovative app to engage consumers in-store.
Image courtesy of Zapp2Photo