Convergence of digital and physical will help beat High St blues
Sport Direct boss Mike Ashley might believe that the British High Street is being “smashed to pieces”, but Manu Tyagi, retail expert at Infosys Consulting, thinks otherwise. In fact, retailers are beginning to transform to meet a whole host of new customer demands and are already reaping the rewards, he argues
“This past year has proven to be a turbulent time for High Street merchants – with November proving to be the worst on record – and Ashley’s prediction suggests it’s only set to get worse," he says.
“However, it’s the blistering growth of online shopping and worrying High Street downturn that are encouraging retailers to explore new, innovative ways to draw consumers back to High Street stores. A convergence of digital and physical experiences will help brands beat the blues. If retailers can enable technology to work alongside humans to meet the growing needs of 21st century consumers then they have every chance of reigniting shoppers’ interest in visiting the British High Street."
We’re currently seeing an uptake in personalised in-store experiences, with brands such as Rebecca Minkoff and Bourjois championing innovative customer experiences through hyper-connected stores featuring smart mirrors, touchscreens and RFID-powered tables. Furthermore, the impact of automation has become visible to consumers through self check-outs, interactive kiosks with chatbots, and even magic mirrors leveraging AR. These are all creating faster, more streamlined shopping experiences for consumers.
“We’ve recently explored an innovative concept which involves micro-targeting and gamification using AR – where consumers can ‘aisle hunt’ for attractive deals and promotions using retailers’ apps on their mobile phones – called Shopemon," says Tyagi. "This generates excitement around brands by using a mixture of mobile apps, AR and physical spaces, especially around new launches or a new product range. Even more importantly, this helps drive more footfall to stores by creating a novel experience for High Street shoppers.”