The Concept of Smart store in India and how Taglr can help in becoming one

The Concept of Smart store in India and how Taglr can help in becoming one
The Concept of Smart store in India and how Taglr can help in becoming one

The global retail industry is undergoing constant transformations driven by factors like dynamic consumer behaviour, changing preferences, and technological advances. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are being blended into retail models, further paving way for futuristic customer experiences. This dynamism in global retail has peaked to an extent where retailers have no option but constantly innovate to remain relevant.

The future of retail in India will belong to retailers who leverage contemporary technologies to offer unbeatable experiences, both in-store and online. Blending digitisation and technology with the touch and feel factor to create next-level omnichannel shopping experiences is the key. Not surprisingly, the concept of smart stores has made its way into India and is all set to redefine the world of retail. Here’s a look at the smart store concept across the world, and how India is catching up:

Shopping intelligence

Amazon’s automated grocery store in Seattle doesn’t require shoppers to stop at checkout lines. Sensors track products when shoppers put them into carts or back on the shelf. The app charges the shoppers’ Amazon account for final items bought as customers exit through sensing gates.

Some stores have started using laser and motion sensors to monitor how customers handle products, then inform retailers what people check out but don’t buy. Facial recognition technology in stores to identify people and instantly retrieve their purchase and browsing history is gaining popularity too. At a Kroger store in Ohio, shelves display digitized price tags and product information and tie that to individual shoppers. So, if a shopper is looking for vegan products, price tags could light up in the aisle with vegan options.

Kroger, Neiman Marcus and Lowe’s futuristic retail stores have robots that interact with shoppers, help them find suitable products and give product information. The robots also help with scanning shelves for inventory, packaging in warehouses and shipping orders. The store’s AR apps enable virtual visualization of products too.

Talking mirrors

Some high-end clothing stores are testing interactive mirrors in dressing areas, some of which recommend items that go with what the customer is wearing at that moment.

Intex Technologies opened the Smart World store at Udaipur, India, that offers the ultimate experience to consumers. The single touch points help customers experience a range of products through superior quality demos provided by trained store staff.

Smarter stores

With contemporary shoppers tilting towards online shopping, in-store technology becomes important to make offline shopping an immersive, interactive, and exciting experience and also to increase dwell times/store traffic and create a stronger brand connect.

Several retailers in India are moving towards the smart store concept to deliver top-notch in-store experiences by using digital kiosks, virtual mirrors, virtual fitting capabilities, and more.

Brick-and-mortar retail stores Airflash showcase IoT-exclusive gadgets and devices, which customers can walk-in and experience unboxed.

In Bengaluru, the recently launched Van Heusen Style Studio brings the convenience of online shopping to the physical world, adding excitement to shopping journeys. This store boasts of an in-built recommendation software ‘style bar’ and has a Fit Suite that suggests sizes and fits as per each customer’s body type. And through virtual trials, customers can check as many ensembles as they want without going into the trial room.

Last August, Raymond launched its first flagship store, Ready to Wear, in Bengaluru, which showcases a double height, ‘LED-curtained’ live façade that flashes crystal-clear digital content. Clicking ‘Trial’ on iPads lets customers view selections in their desired sizes and invoicing is iPad-enabled too.

Shoppers Stop is digitising some of its select stores in Mumbai – AR-powered dressing rooms, digital kiosks to facilitate browse-and-buy from the e-store, and a magic mirror for customers to browse over 1,000 products.

Future Group’s Big Bazaar Gen Next stores in Noida and Mumbai have virtual mirrors, interactive digital screens, digital signages on shelves that pick pricing directly from the system, televisions on end caps showcasing how-to videos and deals/offers, sit-down checkouts, and dedicated zones for multi-sensorial food experiences.

612 League stores in Noida and Bengaluru have a wonderful store concept where children use hand gestures to try clothes virtually.

What more does a smart retail store entail?

  • Electronic shelf digital labels to track and display dynamic price changes within minutes, helping establish price synchronization between the point of sale (POS) and other sales channels
  • Real-time retail inventory tracking and management along with real-time report generation
  • Sensor-ridden smart systems to track how customers react while looking at products, achievable by facial expression capture and eyeball tracking
  • Analytical models to gain insights into customer buying behaviour patterns/preferences, then marrying this data with algorithms to discover effective purchase triggers, understand co-relations between products usually purchased together, etc.
  • Thermal imaging sensors, Wi-Fi-based solutions, beacons, etc. to uncover the entire customer journey inside stores and help design individually customised solutions

In India, IoT-driven retailing solutions and smart stores can unveil actionable insights, thwart the challenges plaguing offline retailers and elevate the shopping experience for customers. Combined with the right systems and technology, Big Data and Analytics; higher lead conversions, streamlined customer service, improved ROI and ‘digitally-enabled’ shopping will ensue. This is what we at Taglr are trying to achieve, using technology to better the overall shopping experience for the customers. ')}

How offline retailers can compete with online e-commerce giants

What offline retailers can do to compete with e-commerce heavyweights
With e-commerce giants devouring a major portion of the retail pie, can offline retailers catch up? The answer is yes – And here’s how:

In the intensifying competition between brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce heavyweights, who will win? With e-commerce giants devouring a major portion of the retail pie, can offline retailers catch up? The answer is yes – And here’s how:

Strike while the iron is hot

It often happens that even while inside a store, shoppers turn to their cell phones to make a purchase decision. Offline retailers can convert this into a fitting opportunity to create fruitful in-store experiences by delivering relevant information to customers when the purchase intent is fresh. iBeacon technology is one such avenue through which offline retailers can furnish product information, videos, social reviews, etc. via mobile to help shoppers make informed, data-backed decisions while in the store.  

Take Best Buy’s showrooming approach ‘Your Ultimate Holiday Showroom’ – This innovative campaign put forth the brand’s ‘Low Price Guarantee’ promise through an entertaining YouTube video, using an online approach to invite customers into the offline store.

Be socially intelligent

In-depth analysis of online activity and social media reviews can help offline retailers gain insights into customer sentiments, then leverage this ‘social intelligence’ to optimize in-store customer experiences. Social media platforms also facilitate better retailer-customer interaction, quicker information and feedback exchange, improving brand perception and sometimes reversing negative impressions too.

British multinational fashion retailer TopShop gave customers freestyling and make-up sessions, then invited them to create a ‘Wish You Were at Topshop’ digital postcard using Instagram. After being captured via iPads, the images were set with an Instagram filter and shoppers were encouraged to share them on social media.

Redefine customer service

Trained, well-informed in-store personnel must also have access to social media activity, online reviews, searches, etc. to assist customers better. This enhances the shopping experience and brings a compelling personal touch that may not be achievable by online stores – For instance, remembering regulars and personalizing the approach according to each shopper.

Here too, beacons can help offline retailers design personalized, targeted offers by syncing shoppers’ wish lists and favourites with their mobile apps.

Waitrose, a UK grocery retailer, lets shoppers use their mobile phones as a ‘Quick Check’ handset to scan products for information, ratings, reviews and discounts/offers; to cherry-pick their own offers (For instance, myWaitrose loyalty cardholders can select 10 exclusive Waitrose products at a 20% discount; and even request in-store assistance which store staff get notified about on their iPads. With iBeacon technology, store staff receive customers’ locations as well.

Says Sara Weinreb, founder of apparel store IMBY, “When people frequent my store, I’m able to enable them to define their personal style, find products that match their budget and requirements, and give them things to look for. Options such as this just aren’t on Amazon, where it’s your work to examine a large number of relevant products for every search.”

Leverage exclusivity

Anything traceable to an SKU or ISBN number is mass produced, marketed, and discounted.

Offline retailers can create their own unique merchandise by stocking locally produced items, offering differentiated features that cannot be duplicated or found online, and offer all this at competitive prices.

Australian fashion boutique Covet’s owner herself designs her store jewellery, giving shoppers inimitable items that are hard to find elsewhere.

Ditch conventionality

Price matching, a common tactic used by brick-and-mortar stores to convert online shoppers, doesn’t always work, making it essential to be innovative while promoting and pricing products. One way is to ditch blanket discounts and instead segment buyers to tailor promotions based on individual shopping behaviour. Where possible, payment conveniences and flexibility (partial/split payments, layaways, etc.) can also help compete with e-commerce players.

Work on the balancing act

Inherent advantages of offline retail like click-and-collect, reserve-in-store, and in-store product stock availability indications can turn into unique advantages to draw more customers into physical stores.

Along with traditional marketing practices, offline retailers must build a powerful online presence too. In the booming online shopping world, not having a digital presence means missing out on a sea of potential customers. It is also essential to integrate brick-and-mortar locations with online stores by using solutions that sync inventory and data across multiple channels/locations to enable management of online and offline stores without duplications, redundancies and discrepancies. This balancing of offline and online presence makes the omni-channel retail experience a reality.

Digitize shopping experiences

Introducing new technology to physical stores can help offline retailers create digitized shopping experiences that online retailers may find hard to compete with.

Big Bazaar Gen Next stores in Noida and Mumbai are equipped with virtual mirrors, interactive digital screens, digital signages on retail shelves, paperless checkouts, and more.

The Van Heusen Style Studio in Bengaluru has an in-built recommendation software ‘style bar’, a Fit Suite to suggest individualized sizes/fits, and virtual trials, among other digital conveniences.

Raymond’s flagship store Ready to Wear in Bengaluru has iPads for invoicing and also to let customers experience virtual trials of chosen apparel in their specific sizes.

Summing up

Several new age retail stores are catching up with their online contemporaries by embracing advanced technology to design digitized and exciting in-store experiences. Assistive robots, online advertising platforms like Taglr, interactive mirrors, sensor-embedded shelves, real time inventory tracking, and more, these are just some of the real-world features that can lure online shoppers back into good old offline stores. ')}