Recommended Read #10: Experiential In-Store Experiences

Don Hoffman

Don Hoffman

Here at CoreMedia we talk a lot about how brands can deliver great online experiences. But part of our bigger vision is enabling retailers to deliver great in-store experiences as well. And this is a very hot topic right now, as retailers rush to provide their customers – particularly millennials – with not just products to purchase but also experiences to savor (and share). So retailers everywhere are experimenting with transforming their brick and mortar stores into real experiences using digital technology. Whether you call it "immersive retail," "experiential retail," or even "retailtainment" it's definitely a trend that's here to stay.

As part of our ongoing recommended read series we've rounded up the best articles on this topic. First, an analysis from Forbes that gets to the heart of the matter: how brands can use technology to win at customer experience. It's an intriguing piece that makes the case that experiences are not just ancillary to the product, they're actually going to become the product.

Next, the South China Morning Post offers a look at some of the captivating things luxury brands are doing in the name of immersive retail, from Tiffany & Co.'s high-end perfume vending machine in London to Cartier's pop-up gallery to celebrate its Tank collection in Tokyo. Storefront Magazine provides more insights with an article that details seven success studies, including one of our favorite brands Farfetch, the wildly successful luxury eCommerce portal.

Business Insider takes a look at the latest opening of Amazon's game changing cashier-less store, Amazon Go, which just opened its latest outlet in downtown San Francisco. Technology that was eye-opening last year – the "just walk out" concept, which uses cameras, sensors and apps to track purchases – is rapidly becoming commonplace.

Digital Commerce 360 (via Bloomberg) has an in-depth piece about the fashion retailer Zara's new flagship store in London, which is chock-full of virtual reality (VR) technology, including a floor-to-ceiling hologram-enabled mirror. Digiday has a similar article spotlighting the VR and augmented reality (AR) innovations taking place at The Container Store in Dallas, where shoppers can upload photos and videos of the rooms of their home and reorganize them using the store's interactive digital displays.

Always on the cutting edge of marketing, Nike recently unveiled a brand-new concept store in Los Angeles (Nike by Melrose) designed and stocked entirely based on customer interaction data from the surrounding area. Nike's VP of digital products, Michael Martin, says the idea is to "show and flow new products which will be rotated super fast, bi-weekly, into the stores so that customers can keep coming back." Fast Company has all the details.

And finally, the industry website TotalRetail provides a detailed analysis of how a true omnichannel model – nicknamed "brick and tech" – will eventually blend the best of the online and offline worlds: both entertaining and educational, immersive and interactive, as well as curated to help prevent choice overload.

Happy reading!

Stage 1: Fragmented: Multiple Channels

You’re a digital dinosaur!

You have a beautiful website, but with fragmented digital experiences, you run the risk of extinction.

It’s time to evolve.

Your audiences want a seamless experience, no matter what's happening behind the scenes. When your experience is different or difficult, it’s important to start with the basics, such as cultivating a holistic approach to online digital experiences. Realign your teams, platforms, processes, goals, and metrics around a comprehensive view of the online experience. Focus on the end-to-end customer journey cutting across channels, desktop and mobile.

separate channels animation circle t-rex dinosaur square
Stage 2: Integrated: Multiple channels

You’re a fish!

Signs of exciting life are starting to form. Your DX is responsive and adaptive but it’s not quite personalized yet.

Keep swimming!

The integration of your brand content across every touchpoint (website, online store, social media, emails, apps, point of sale) creates immersive experiences. These flagship sites combine content-rich brand experiences with immediate conversion capabilities. Business teams and marketing are closely aligned. However, while the digital experience is responsive and adaptive, it’s not yet personalized.

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Stage 3: Instant: Global expansion

You’re a crocodile!

You’re taking it global. Speed and scalability are key and just like a crocodile, you’re fast…but you’re clumsy.

Oh snap!

In this stage, the online digital experience becomes completely dynamic. You need content that is global, yet relevant, with plenty of local insights: Who is the user? Are they using a mobile phone? Is it raining where they are? Is it snowing? If it is, maybe they need warm, waterproof boots. All of this contextualized information creates a better user experience. With one global orchestration, you’re able to adapt everything, in whatever country or language you choose – while keeping turnaround times low. So keep evolving.

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Stage 4: Dynamic: Real time personalization

You’re a lion!

You’re reaching more customers in more countries and languages than ever before, and now you’re finally hunting and collecting info with precision.

But you can do more to keep your brand roaring!

As you graduate to the Instant level, you’re able to rapidly update everything - not just in one language and for one country, but in 20 languages and for 100 countries. Speed and scalability are key, driven by the need to roll out global campaigns in all languages and all touchpoints and make updates in minutes or hours, not weeks. But there’s still more to do to reach nirvana.

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Stage 5: Immersive: Elevated experiences

You’re Captain Content!

You’ve done it! You have opposable thumbs AND you’re saving the world with your seamless, elevated customer experiences.

You're a superhero in the digital space.

Your digital world and your physical world are blending together in the most complementary way possible. When shoppers visit your store, they’ll be greeted with their pre-selected products. Language changes dynamically depending on country of origin – it's like the whole store was set up just for your one specific customer.

In this final stage, your customer experience is truly immersive and superior, and your flagship store merges your physical and digital world into one, with a truly personalized individual experience.

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