To say that the retail industry is going through a minor transformation right now would be an understatement.
While several store closings and bankruptcy filings have been reported over the past year, the retail news cycle hasn’t exactly painted an inspiring image for the future of retail.
Moving into the digitally driven age, retailers are looking for new and meaningful ways now more than ever to engage, maintain and retain consumer attention. With connected devices rarely ever out of arm’s length for most people, it can be tricky to find the balance of how much digital to incorporate into the in-store shopping experience.
Today’s consumer doesn’t necessarily have the time or patience for in-store shopping experimentation. While this is unfortunate for some, it may be motivation for other retailers to come up with more innovative ways to reach consumers.
One company that may have found an answer to today’s retailer conundrum is Brazilian-based fashion brand Melissa Shoes. In an effort to give a boost to its in-store shopping experience and transform its shoppers into social advocates for the brand, it partnered up with marketing technology company M-ND to launch interactive displays in April of this year. Through this partnership, Melissa Shoes customers were able to view various fashion designs through digital lookbooks, print photos of in-store social media posts, enable real-time rewards, gamify the shopping experience and participate in additional customer loyalty-focused activities.
As a direct result, consumers are spending more time in Melissa Shoes’ stores trying on shoes and taking photos of their favorite pairs. In a sense, incorporating social media into the in-store experience in a non-invasive way has proved to be a glimmer of hope for retailers currently going through the big brick-and-mortar shift into a digital focus.
To learn more about this partnership, PYMNTS spoke with Melissa Shoes’ exclusive distributor Ilhabela Holdings’ CEO, Michele Levy.
“In today’s world, where the retail environment has already changed so significantly, innovation is more important than ever,” said Levy. “It used to be that if you built a store, customers would come. Now if you build, nothing will happen — you have to get them into the store somehow. Our goal for using M-ND’s technology was to continue the conversation — to use an innovative technology to continue to engage and talk with the customer after she’s left the store so that she continues to think of us, to learn about us and to teach us about herself so we can improve.”
Constantly improving the ways consumers interact with a brand at each touchpoint seems to have shifted from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more tailored experience. With connected devices collecting data about consumers at every tap of the screen, it can prove to be difficult for brick-and-mortar locations to compete on the same level.
While eCommerce has certainly made strides in its rapid curated consumer experiences, the interpersonal relationship a person has with a brand is an area that retailers can likely still depend upon.
“The one thing that internet and eCommerce-driven retail doesn’t allow you to do is have the warm, personal relationships with customers that stem from an in-store experience. 78% of customers who have a positive interaction with a sales associate end up making a purchase,” said Levy. “Brick-and-mortar stores are no longer a stand-alone retail strategy, but part of an overall strategy — and we hope to use M-ND to magnify those personal, in-store experience across our social media platforms.”
Through Melissa Shoes’ consumer interaction with the M-ND displays, rich data is collected about each person so the brand can enhance its services by identifying the most influential customers, learning about which items are getting the most social media attention, and collecting more details that aren’t always readily accessible on social media networks.
“At Melissa, we love tech and use tech all the time, but we did not want a technology that is like a robot. It has to add to the experience, make it fun and interesting and make the customer want to spend more time in the store,” said Levy.
So perhaps the lesson to take away from Melissa Shoes’ experience is to evaluate which technology is best for each brand based upon the value add it delivers to the customer experience. Depending on retailers’ actions over the next few years, it’s probable that this approach to technology just may make or break the backbone of the industry.