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:
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.
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.
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. ')}