Online shopping has soared in recent years, and the consensus is that the high street is struggling as a result. This combined with Coronavirus and social distancing measures means that the knock on effects for our high street has been devastating.
We wondered if technology could help get shoppers back to the high street? Recent research still indicates that people value brick-and-mortar stores — in fact, 81% of UK customers said that the physical stores were vital to the shopping experience. So, when it comes to improving the high-street and implementing in-store technology, what should retailers be getting involved with to enhance their customer’s shopping experience. Here are some ways the fashion industry is already using technology to enhance your offline shopping experience and get you back in store with technology…
Digital Dressing Rooms (Smart Mirrors)
Augmented reality is getting into retail too. This can help the customer with their purchasing decision and help them visualise themselves with the product. Although this can be made available through an app, there are also ways to introduce it in-store. In a fashion store for example, a smart mirror can allow customers to dress themselves in different outfits without actually trying them on. Shops like H&M have made life simpler for their customers in select stores with the use of smart mirrors. These mirrors let customers go through their entire product range and virtually try clothes on. It eliminates the fear of ordering something online and having to send it back while making an in-store shopping experience more fun.
If that wasn’t enough to encourage customers back into stores, these mirrors also take pictures of them in the clothes and that they can download using QR codes. A dream come true, right? Smart move H&M!
Staff members can also use technology to help improve their service towards customers. One way to do this is by providing employees with handheld iPads or other smart tablets. This allows staff to find the answer to a query, check a product’s availability and place orders for the customer without having to use a fixed computer. This can improve the customer’s experience and help build a stronger brand-to-customer relationship.
Some brands have taken this a step further and started to introduce robots that interact with customers instead. These robots can help customers with multiple tasks from, helping them find products to offering recommendations based on their other purchases, to even helping them pick up orders they have made online.
You’ve tried your items on now, but why do fashion stores always seem to have the biggest queues? So many fashion-conscious consumers waiting to buy this season’s biggest trends, all stuck behind somebody trying to return a pair of boots that have clearly been worn several times. It can be very frustrating, not just for the people in the queue but also for the stores themselves.
None of us have the time to be waiting in queues all day, so it’s quite likely that you’ll leave and go online instead. Which is a huge problem for offline stores as they’re losing valuable sales due to the length of queues.
Which is why stores like Zara have started installing self-service tills in some of their stores. It’s something that food stores have been doing for a while, and something the fashion industry arguably should have started doing a while ago. Much like with supermarkets, all customers have to do is scan the item’s barcode and the customer is taken on a tour through the rest of the process.
Things to watch out for
As we’ve all experienced, technology can be a little fickle. This can be frustrating and add time onto a customer’s visit which may result in a negative experience. RetailWeek found that two thirds of those surveyed had experienced problems and breakdowns in-store with the technology. Unfortunately, this then affects sales — one third of customers said that they were unable to complete their transactions because of the technology difficulties.
Sadly, poor experiences with in-store tech not working as it should can cause customers to leave and not come back. Retailers must keep software and technologies updates and well-maintained to avoid issues like this.
So what do you think, will these technological advancements in the fashion industry enhance your shopping experience enough to convince you to get you back into stores?