The once far-fetched ideas of the store of the future are now becoming a reality thanks to new technologies. But this begs the question: what will the customers in these stores be like? Shoppers in the future will be smart customers who want to make the shopping experience faster and more comfortable by using new technologies to learn about and compare products and prices.
Digitizing stores is fundamental for providing good service and a complete experience for future shoppers. It helps businesses understand their customers in terms of their buying habits, likes and preferences. Businesses can use this to communicate with customers in a timely manner. We love interacting with products and shoppers in the future will too. These shoppers will seek out experiences that leave an impact and technology can help do that.
Some characteristics of smart customers are:
- Freedom and empowerment: customers feel freer in a store with self-service options, or where they aren’t inundated with irrelevant advertisements. The easiest way to empower customers and improve brand engagement is to let them interact with the brand and to personalize the content they see.
- See and compare products before buying: shoppers use e-commerce services and new technologies to compare products and prices to make sure they’re certain about their purchase. This has inspired the term webrooming, which is when a customer looks at products online before going to the physical store.
- Interaction: customers still prefer touching and handling products before buying them. This has inspired the term showrooming, which is when a customer visits a store to interact with products, then makes a purchase online.
- Immediacy: this is one of the key aspects of modern society. Retailers must be able to act in real time by sending customers interesting information at the right time. Future shoppers will want to buy products comfortably (for example, by paying with a smart phone) and without waiting in long lines.
The store of the future must develop customer-centric strategies that make shoppers the focus of marketing activities. To do this, we have to study the customer journey, meaning the path a customer follows and their interactions with different points of contact with the brand or store before buying. Focusing on customers and their experience requires implementing different tools and new technologies, including artificial intelligence, to collect anonymous information (always respecting customers’ privacy), analyze it and act.
The characteristics of the store of the future are:
- Omnichannel communication: customers can interact with the brand through any channel. They don’t want to have to repeat any information they have already given before. The main objective of omnichannel communication is to improve customer loyalty.
- Personalization: the data collected and analyzed in the store is used to personalize the information and brand messages directed towards customers. This way, customers receive relevant information and aren’t bothered by content that doesn’t interest them.
- Digital signage: a tool that optimizes the shopping experience and engagement with the brand by empowering customers to interact with it. Kiosks with touch screens and other innovative solutions can let customers buy products in-store and have them shipped to their home, for example.
- Mobile engagement: communicate with customers through their smartphones with beacons and attract their attention when they are in certain areas of the store. Customers will receive relevant information, such as promotions and sales, on the store app or by scanning QR codes.
- Artificial intelligence: optimize in-store service and automate the analysis of the huge amounts of data gathered by cameras and sensors to offer an optimized, real-time response that matches company strategy. AI makes it possible to implement solutions like Halo, Beabloo’s digital signage virtual assistant. It talks with customers in a personable way to help them find products, stores, events, restaurants and activities. Artificial intelligence is also the basis for solutions like Minerva, Beabloo’s system integrated with digital signage that learns from customers to optimize planning and ad campaign objectives in-store.
The store of the future will create a personalized shopping experience that involves smart customers by communicating with them through mobile notifications and digital signage screens. These customers will want to be the focus of the store, so businesses must be prepared to get to know their customers and offer them correct information at the right place and time through any digital channel.