While the physical retail model was already undergoing structural changes even before COVID, the post pandemic successes of online giants such as Amazon and eBay have forced traditional brick & mortar stores into drastic alterations of their service propositions. Here’s how retailers are redefining the customer experience to stay competitive with online counterparts.
The nation’s most innovative retailers have been starting to place a bigger emphasis on immersion to evoke emotion and drive sales. In a retail environment, this term encompasses the use of futuristic technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to create a personalised, customer-centric shopping experience. It is effectively an extension of the term ‘retailtainment’ which was coined in 1999 to describe how ambience, emotion, sound, and activity get customers in the mood to purchase merchandise.
Sporting giant Rebel was one of the first Australian retailers to showcase the true capabilities of in-store immersion through their RCX (Rebel Customer Experience) concept stores. After contracting CV Media & Signage for comprehensive fit outs in their first two RCX locations, the team delivered a large array of futuristic digital assets such as video walls, LED hero displays, digital screens, and LED tickers. The result? Inspiring and highly engaging stores that have taken the meaning of experience-based retail to a new level.
Despite the perceived threat to brick & mortar stores, Rebel’s new shopping utopias have shown that physical retail does still have a future as long as it utilises the one advantage that it has over online shopping – a tangible experience.
While immersion is all about creating new touch points, the nation’s most inventive retailers are also becoming more obsessed about refining their existing ones. Put simply, market-leading brands are focused on optimising the customer experience for young tech-savvy consumers. Raised in a rapidly evolving time where ‘the customer is always right’, this group naturally have much higher service expectations than previous generations.
To please this group, today’s retailers are upgrading their existing signs into purposeful modern systems that simplify and streamline the customer journey. A perfect example of this can be seen by looking at the case of Andersens – to connect with ‘digital natives’, the Australian flooring giant engaged CV Media & Signage to deliver over forty freestanding 49” touch screen displays across many of its stores. These interactive solutions allow Andersens’ customers to seamlessly obtain information and perform actions. Perhaps most importantly however, these digital signs help the retailer to form a stronger connection with younger generations. With 60% of millennials stating that they prefer to use in-store kiosks than speak to staff, Andersens is clearly doing its part to drive customer satisfaction.
While it may not be as exciting as the previously mentioned trends, minimalist signage is continuing to make waves in the retail industry with its elegance and simplicity helping brands to stand out amongst a crowd in which competitors are screaming for attention. The loud, in-your-face marketing communications with flashy colour themes are simply not appealing to the masses anymore; while maximalist advertising had its time, the modern consumer wants companies to connect with them by combining minimal design elements with a powerful yet succinct message.
With retail design elements being a crucial determinant of consumer satisfaction, companies need to be proactive in ensuring that they are keeping up to date with the latest fads. With regards to the year of 2022, research suggests that the most topical trends are unsurprisingly to do with technology and minimalism.
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