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Why digital (in retail)?

Why Retail needs to be more than what can be done from home online.

The key reason we´re talking about Digital Retail is to address the level of expectations consumers have today. They don´t see a border between physical and digital anymore when they´re shopping or trying to experience things.

These two worlds connecting and seamlessly integrating with each other is what they expect.

The crisis over the last 18 months has made sure that everybody, no matter the demographic, has become comfortable with shopping online. They´ve experienced levels of convenience, personalization and fast results which go with that.

Retailers who still live in the physical world need to be aware of that, they need to respond to these elevated expectations of their consumers. So the question is: What is needed to draw people back to the high street?

Retail needs to be more than what can be done from home online; that extra layer of sensory, human interaction that is integrated in the physical retail experience is adding additional value. An enriching experience, you cannot have at home.

Instead of focusing only on creating content for retail stores, brands could focus on how they can create opportunities for content creation, in-store, by their customers. Designing a space in a way that engages and personalizes experiences to people, and that make them want to share their experiences, will keep fuelling your brand efforts on the digital side.

The end-to-end customer experience is forged around being ubiquitously present in the online and offline world, in a constant and fluid interaction between digital and physical reality. If retailers have not started on this journey so far, the time is now.

Benefits of Digital Spaces

Firstly, digital is about the fluid and enjoyable consumer experience. Not about tools, not about screens and hardware, not about big data. It´s about the consumers´s experience with your brand, while driving productivity and profitability in stores - enabled by technology. Brands neet to ensure that across all touchpoints of the consumer journey with their brand, online and offline, there is consistency. In the way the brand presented, through its viewpoints and the way it approaches its consumers.

Brands can use digital to enhance the in-store experience, bring products to life or amplifying key campaigns and messages, by using experiential touchpoints in the physical store. Thirdly, and very important, there is a sustainability aspect to all the things that can be done digitally. When brands are able to update campaigns, graphics and imagery at the touch of a button, it massively reduces the production, distribution and finally disposal of physical materials.

Many working in retail today know, that a lot of the materials that are created for temporary use, are really very permanent and bring with them an incredibly long and expensive half-life. Digital can empower brands to eliminate wasteful processes at their root.

Another valuable element of digital retail is the concept of endless aisle, especially since we are talking about merging the physical and digital worlds. It allows retailers to be more selective in what they present physically in store, to look at different and maybe more elegant forms of merchandising. Integrating this digital mindset can help drive profitability in stores and create new success measures for retail.

It does so, by making sure the entire collection is on offer, without a need to overcrowd the store and a lot of clutter. This comes back to the consumers journey and creating more physical room, for experiential spaces & human interaction.


Through the work we have done at Digital Innovation together with our clients, we know how the elements talked about here and more can lead to measurable results. Important results in the industry like foot traffic is showing that moving images in a store window are more likely to pull a consumer into the store from the street. Conversion rates increase after a consumer has engaged with a physical product, after being guided by an interactive digital experiences and relevant content. In turn, an improved shopping experience and good staff support will not only increase conversions, but also loyalty and advocacy in consumers, which are very powerful things in today´s world. For retailers, it´s a lot more cost effective to keep a loyal consumer, than it is to gain new consumers.

If you imagine replacing the endless change out of physical materials and inventory, as well as the labour that goes into creating them, cost effectiveness in store operations goes hand in hand with the sustainability element.

We have seen first-hand that making an investment into for example costly physical hardware, will pay for themselves very quickly, in comparison of the habits seen in the industry today. If these factors are considered throughout, we see many benefits and a clear business case for digital in store. A way to bring the physical retail experience to the next level.

Breaking Habits Besides the overarching consumer expectations today, there is two more key elements that needs to be considered, before and when starting the journey to create digital spaces. The context in which your brand is operating and how it is going to adopt to the planned changes. The consumers journey is quickly changing today, and retail space is precious, so a lot of work goes into analysing consumer data and planning what it is that will really help you achieve your goals in a meaningful way.

With or without digital, with the most extravagant or the most simplistic implementation of technology; your vision must be clear, or the effort cannot be justified. Nothing changes in that sense in the digital world we live in now, compared to before.

Once the context and plan is clear, digital adoption and how these changes affect employees in their day to day processes, is another crucial aspect to consider. Again, regardless of the expensive hardware or state-of-the-art software, if people don´t change their habits and use these tools, the effort cannot be justified.

It´s easy to get sucked into all the hype around technology and forgetting that people are still what drives digital, not the other way around. Technology can only operate around your vision and if people involved are properly introduced to it. Digital can only be an enabler for purposeful human interactions and exciting retail experiences.

Digital Retail Series We will continue to expand on all of the elements discussed here in more detail, as part of our new Digital Retail series. Stay tuned for more insights into our experiences around the future of retail.

In the meantime, we would love to hear about your experiences and perspectives on the matter. Do you have a plan and vision to stay relevant to your consumers? Have you considered how this will impact your current way of working and brand culture?


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