Retailers today can access an unprecedented amount of data about their customers, from demographics to past purchases to social media posts to the store locations they visit. Much of the credit goes to omnichannel retail, which has enriched these insights by adding granular data about online and mobile behaviors.
But retailers are only just scratching the surface when it comes to leveraging these insights to understand and shape consumers’ shopping behavior on an emotional level. There is considerable untapped potential in combining insights about consumer psychology with the technology that can cater to those needs to deliver the brand experience that drives customer satisfaction, increased transactions and brand loyalty.
Understanding these four key areas of shopper marketing science is key to successfully tapping digital technologies to add new dimension to the path to purchase in stores.
Each of the four areas features three components:
Retailers connect with consumers on a psychological level through perception. It starts with understanding the nature of a brand’s connection with that consumer: Is it about fun? Convenience? A sense of trust?
Brands have lost some of the control they once had over their public images. Millennials are especially inclined to form individual opinions about a brand through their personal experiences with it. This emotional connection is often enhancted by convenience or an economic benefit such as loyalty points, exclusives or coupons.
Smart brands enable consumers to find a personal angle on their brand within parameters they design. By offering accessories such as custom phone cases and data plans via endless aisle, for example, retailers empower the shopper to put her own stamp on the product.
A retailer establishes those perceptions and parameters through high-quality creative, distributed through traditional and digital marketing advertising at all manner of perceptual levels, to drive consumers into the store.
It’s the job of the in-store environment to build on those perceptions and make it easy for consumers to get the value they are seeking out of their experience.
Just as with online, a store visit is a user experience. In fact, thanks to technology, the two are more similar than ever.
According to market research firm GfK, “We know from our extensive work with brands around the world that small changes in UX can deliver significant and meaningful gains in terms of long-term brand equity. In a recent study, we found that a 0.1 change in the mean UX Score (a validated measurement of usability, usefulness and aesthetics calculated on a six-point scale) resulted in an increase of 1.3% in brand equity. The message is clear — get your UX right in the short and medium term, and growth will follow.”
Leverage data and sensors to understand customer behavior and decision-making.
Create a culture that will allow customers to play within it. Build opportunities for them to piece it together the way they want to that allows for engagement and decision-making along the way.
Store design has long been a powerful tool to immerse the customer in an environment that reinforces the brand message and moves her along the path to purchase. But today’s consumers are more distracted and demanding than ever.
That means visual communications have to work even harder to capture and engage the customer, then deliver the information-fueled, web-like experience that will prompt a transaction. That can be more challenging in some environments than others; it’s easier to gain attention for a personal and emotional purchase like jewelry than for a routine shopping trip such as groceries.
Good store design is still about storytelling; breaking down the customer journey, mapping it out and moving consumers along toward the transaction. But smart use of technology and insights adapts this strategy for the mobile-empowered, distracted consumer. Retailers can use their more granular view of what's happening in their stores and identify opportunities for technology to add value.
Layer technology as part of a hierarchy of communication or perception, using broadcasted content and two-way interaction. This may include:
Video walls to capture attention and set the tone
Digital displays to convey lifestyle and styling
Sensors, heat mapping to measure behavior, dwell time
Smaller shelf/fixture-level screens and/or customer mobile communications for product-specific information/demos
Endless aisle for access to broader product line
Retailers see potential in providing shopper information via digital signage, but the opportunity is largely untapped.
Top-of-the-funnel marketing and advertising conveys a brand message and sets a tone that helps drive the customer into the store. The store environment must pick up the story from there, fulfilling that promise and moving the customer through to the transaction. Exceptional visual merchandising evokes these values using color, texture, lighting, aroma, staff engagement and more.
What has been missing for retailers is time. While static displays get one chance to capture attention and convey one message, digital introduces movement and time through video content. That increases the opportunity to attract attention and enables retailers to convey far more content, even in a short moving image. It's about human beings moving about with the products and enjoying themselves, evoking powerful emotions.
Embed digital into the overall visual merchandising conversation, making it an element of the story, not a standalone message. Consider how this feel can be extended to customer device in-store messaging.
of customers found screens installed in grocery stores pleasant to watch, according to a Millward Brown study:
Video walls, digital displays, shelf/fixture-level screens, customer mobile.
Marketing, advertising and visual merchandising all set the stage for the final step, driving the transaction. Whether they are navigating a web site or a store, customers are on a journey. In a store, this is an emotional as well as a physical experience: The consumer must locate the item, make a choice and place it in the cart. Good content is what moves a consumer from interest to a sale, satisfying a need, generating excitement and making a personal connection between the item and the consumer.
Tap the incredible flexibility of digital to enable that connection. It’s important to align the size and level of message with the technology, moving the consumer along by working from massive video walls to large displays and finally to small and localized screens. At the purchase level, placing screens at just the right locations helps consumers find the items they want, and delivers meaningful product-specific benefits and features in a way that is specific to the space, the item and the shopper.
of consumers say accurate, rich and complete product content is very important when deciding what to buy, according to Salsify.
In addition to displays of varying sizes, some brands use staffers’ or customers’ devices to deliver this content. A staffer can pull customer preferences from loyalty data on an iPad and use it to quickly deliver a high-touch, emotional experience enhanced by technology.
Content management systems enable retailers to gather and manage online and in-store content from one central command center, so storytelling is cohesive across touch points.
Retailers rely on a powerful arsenal of proven best practices and storytelling to move shoppers along the path to purchase, from initial impression through in-store purchase. They follow a similar blueprint online, where the conventions of digital retailing have reshaped customer expectations.
Now it’s time to bring the two together. Retailers are just beginning to tap the power of technology to add new dimension to the in-store shopping experience by incorporating the lessons of digital shopping into visual merchandising science. Strategic, artful blending of screens, sensors, endless aisle and related technologies is a new frontier in bricks-and-mortar retail that promises to connect with shoppers on a deeper emotional level to enhance the in-store brand experience.Learn more about creating an enriched in-store experience
Founded by wireless retailers, iQmetrix is the leading provider of innovative software solutions for the wireless market. With platform-built, metrics-driven products from POS and full-suite retail management software, to endless aisle, drop ship, e-Commerce and digital signage, iQmetrix has taken its unique understanding of the pain points in the industry to create better experiences for wireless retailers and their customers. Currently powering over 19,000 wireless locations, iQmetrix is a software as a service (SaaS) company with offices in Canada and the U.S. www.iQmetrix.com
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