Technology has already changed the way we shop by enabling online and mobile shopping. But only eight to 13 percent of retail shopping in the United States occurs online, with the majority of purchasing still happening in brick and mortar stores.
Retailers want to create a rich in-store experience, and technology is becoming a big part of this for many stores. Walgreens has opened new, high-end locations that include more square footage and unique architecture, with bakeries, fresh produce, hair and nail salons, and makeup boutiques, all under one roof and all enhanced by the latest technology. The makeup boutique features a virtual try-on, allowing customers to see how they would look in different eye shadows or lipstick shades with a simple snapshot. And, when customers enter Walgreen’s flagship store in New York City, they are greeted by a holographic virtual assistant that tells them all about the enhanced features of the location.
Clothing stores may soon integrate similar solutions, such as the TelePresence Tech 4G Kiosk. The kiosk is a virtual personal stylist with access to a store’s full line of products that allows customers to create their own profile. Intel’s Magic Mirror uses parametric technology to show how clothes look on a consumer when they stand in front of an LCD monitor. Some even believe that technology like this will revolutionize retail stores in the near future, turning them into test centers for online purchases, with no actual sales taking place.
Smartphones and apps now give shoppers new options to save money and navigate stores quickly. Self-serve scanning apps like SCAN IT! Mobile can be used in select Stop & Shop stores to ring up items as customers stroll through the aisles. There’s no need to wait in line when customers are done shopping; the app will generate a barcode specific to the order that can be used at any self-checkout register.
Retailers are now finding futuristic ways to engage with customers in stores, differentiating themselves from their online counterparts, and keeping customers coming back for more.