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Defining Digital Retail

What makes up digital in retail and how to create a viable vision and plan of how your brand fits into the future of retail.

This is the second part of our People Drive Digital series, following our most recent piece, ‘Why Digital?

This time, we’re taking a closer look at what makes up digital in retail and how many components need to interact with each other, to create a viable vision and plan of how your brand fits into the future of retail.

While there are many different viewpoints in the market on what defines Digital retail, at Digital Innovation, we consider all digital touchpoints of interaction between a brand and consumer in brick-and-mortar stores. This is where a digital mindset & technology support can result in an enjoyable consumer experience, retail productivity & profitability.

A classic sign of traditional retail is the fixed point of sale, getting in line to checkout and pay at the end of a store visit. An option to reduce waiting times and encourage further browsing and create a more enjoyable shopping experience, could be to move away from fixed to more mobile by equipping your floor team with right hardware and software needed.

In-store tracking and analytics solutions as another interesting innovation, enable you to make sense of how visitors are reacting and behaving in your store.

Armed with this kind of additional information, you are in control of making improvements in regard to product placement or the distribution of digital touchpoints, interactive experiences across the floor.

At DI, we have experience with customization zones in store for global clients in the sports footwear as well as the automobile industry. Allowing consumers to have not only a personal experience with your brand, but to also personalize the product they love, is something that can be supported by digital tools for any product.

Another successful strategy in creating a more personalized in-store experience are brand mobile apps. They can help consumers and store staff bridge the gap between information in the digital and physical world, to have a focus on the human interactions between the two. NFC and RFID chips, as well as QR Codes can turn physical products into something that’s interactive in the digital world, potentially even into something that can serve as an access point to more brand content or premiums.

It seems like there is always more and it becomes hard to prioritize, but options like the above, as well as endless aisle concepts, omnichannel experiences, immersive and testing spaces, digital signage, and new staff tools are all components that need to interact smoothly with each other if implemented.

Understanding Digital Retail With the consumer experience always at the center of your vision and an idea of what kind of digital components could improve your retail experience, it’s now time to understand what needs to be considered and planned, to bring your vision to life.

Analyzing, mapping and designing your future consumer journey begins with the current experience your brand is offering from a consumer perspective and evaluating the possibilities within your physical space.

Assessing and researching the latest innovations in technology is another crucial step that needs to be planned out with a multitude of potential supplier and together with architects, merchandisers, store staff and other stakeholders. All this effort is needed, in order to really apply these tools in a consumer centric way, not as an afterthought when the new store opens.

Once the key elements around consumer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy are agreed on, and the relevant business KPIs are defined, the design and planning of the brand-new digital retail experience can take place. There is a big need for a lot of sense making activities, before deciding and committing to a final path.

Store visits and crunching numbers, scouting technology, multiple iterations of ideation and design, prototyping, running RFPs are all crucial activities, needed to consider all relevant context for the brand and its consumers. At this stage, the supply chain for hardware needs to be considered. Especially at an international level, even things like hardware orders for digital screens can be extremely challenging, considering required certifications, material shortages and global shipping regulations in our current times.

Digital needs to be planned purposefully: Making sure there´s either a clear monetary return on investment for the business, or a more long-term oriented, non-monetary measure we call “Return on Experience.” This can combine increased product awareness, social reach & engagement, better perceived staff service and many more – very specifically defined for your brand & your consumers.

Introducing the new What we have not yet considered, is how a brand would roll-out and implement these changes, to move away from the current way of working. Company culture and change management are often a neglected aspect in big undertakings like opening a new store or introducing change in existing workplaces.

A retail store, just like all its individual products need to be managed according to their lifecycle. Once the doors open on day 1 the project is over, and operations takes over control. Staff needs to be trained on how to use new tools, a support organization for technical issues needs to be in place, lessons and experiences need to be recorded for future rollouts or expansions.

In the end, it will again be people using and driving the success or failure of technology or vision. Every undertaking, every brand that is not considering the human needs and frustrations of their consumers and employees, will be challenging.


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