Over the last three months, the UK population have adjusted their lives and adapted to a new normal- that of a virtual world. From ecommerce for shopping to cloud-based classrooms and offices, COVID-19 has meant the population have relied online not just for convenience but as a way to continue living their life. Yet, as we slowly start to ease out of lockdown, in this online heavy world it raises the question- is there a role for bricks and mortar stores?
The answer, yes- bricks and mortar stores are a place to experience products. Retailers need to remind their consumers of the value of entering into their space. Pre COVID-19, retailers were already in the throes of ‘experiential retail’ utilising technology to provide heightened and immersive consumer experiences, a trend they should capitalise on to entice consumers back into their stores.
Retailers need to think about every element of the experience, not just the physical interaction.
Augmented shopping is proving to be a compelling way to enable customers to envision and try products in different styles, colours, sizes and settings. In January, JD.com’s ‘e-space’ on China offered customers the chance to virtually try everything on in the store adopting an omnichannel model where customers can then order online or pick up in store, enabling consumers outside of the area to ‘visit’ the store virtually.
Throughout the COVID crisis we have seen brands and retailers adapt their physical experiences to suit their digital channels hosting virtual experiences. Virtual reality creates an immersive experience that brands can employ to offer customers an exciting experience in a traditional in-store environment. North Face offers 3-D immersive experiences such as 360-degree virtual tours of National Parks around the world using Google Cardboard glasses.
Besides offering experiences, retailers can use experiential retail technology to provide higher levels of service. Apple, for example, use mobile devices for scanning, check out, ordering and payment. As stores prepare for the possibility to reopen, retail will need to use technology to develop safe, socially distanced initiatives that entice customers back into brick and mortar stores.
The coronavirus will eventually pass and retail needs to be ready when it does. At Quantum 4 we understand ideas must not be diluted by change and with our localised supply chain, we can turn new ideas and concepts into a reality equipping retailer with the innovative design solutions they need. For more information: https://quantum4.co.uk/contact