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Building the digital store with seamless customer engagement

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06 December 2016

Alison Wiltshire

Blogs by author:  Alison Wiltshire , Global Practice Lead, Retail and Consumer Goods, BT.

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When it comes to the struggles of the bricks and mortar retailer, the popularity of online shopping has a lot to answer for. Not because of sales lost - after all, ninety per cent of all retail sales transactions still happen in a physical store . But because online and mobile channels have significantly raised the bar, have lifted customers’ expectations of what shopping should be like.

Online is so convenient. We can shop at any time, check stock availability, detailed product information and choose delivery options. Online is also personal, remembering our contact details, payment preferences and purchase history. And online engages us with videos, reviews, comparison tables, social media posts, games and quizzes. Now, retailers must recreate a similarly convenient and seamless experience in their physical stores, many of which have changed little in 20 years. That’s why we’ve launched a new BT Alexander Black demonstration store at Adastral Park to show retailers how they can transform their stores and appeal to today’s digital consumers.

Alexander Black demonstrates four factors of an amazing in store experience. The first is attraction: high definition digital images on video walls, music playlists tailored to the store demographic, marketing content that reflects customers’ age and gender, a welcome text message when someone enters the store - all contribute to the right vibe for the brand. (It’s being called 'retail-tainment'). Even when the store is closed, interactive window displays let customers get information about products or virtually try on garments.

The second factor is engagement with customers as they move around the store. In departments such as fashion and homeware, whenever a customer walks by you can spritz scents and play music to create the right mood. Memory mirrors help customers choose flattering garments, product configurators offer personalised choices, smart fitting rooms make trying on clothes much easier (and a lot more fun). And if customers have opted to give you their personal information, then you can send special offers, or an invitation to visit a particular department, direct to their smartphone.

The third factor is real live sales people. Interaction with a great sales associate is probably the most influential factor in a positive customer experience in store. Equipped with mobile devices and sales tools, digitally-enabled associates have everything they need to guide customers through the sales journey, including access to inventory, product details and the customer’s purchase history and contact details. The final factor is an efficient conclusion to the transaction, either via a sales associate and mobile POS or a self-service checkout, and no more queuing at a pay point.

However, sales floor digital touchpoints and services are only half the story. You can’t create a truly seamless experience without collecting and analysing data from customers and inventory. For that, you need a single platform that connects all your digital touchpoints.

Developing a digital platform will be a challenge for even the most sophisticated retailers, which is why BT has joined other technology leaders in the Acuitas Digital alliance.  By combining our respective strengths in networking, hardware, software, analytics, cloud services and security, the Acuitas Digital Alliance will help retailers adopt digital technology and create a platform that brings in store and back office seamlessly together, roll out solutions consistently across multiple outlets and deliver a common brand experience.

We’re at NRF 2017, Retail’s Big Show, from 15 to 17 January 2017. At our booth (#3181, Level Three) you can chat to our experts about your digital retail challenges and learn more about our Acuitas Digital Alliance solutions.