A lucid vision of how technology could impact the retail landscape in the near future was visible when both online and offline retailers started embracing the meaningful improvements technology was bringing in. The progress of the digital native population further led to its progression in the retail sector. In fact, every segment of retail became so digitally efficient, that in no time technology had dramatically altered how we shop. Right from the first point of purchase to the last mile of purchase, from supply chain to the multiple selling channels, from cashless modes of payments to the hassle-free door-step delivery of products and services to customers; everything has been fused with an efficient, innovative and incredibly compelling technological approach.
In fact, buying and selling are no longer about being relevant, driving growth or boosting profits, instead, it has moved beyond and away from objectifying the whole shopping experience by giving it a customized and personalized value proposition.
Malls today have become such places that are supporting and providing a wholesome technological retail experience. It has evolved into a new retail experience that incorporates an exploratory experience around people as they shop, dine, entertain and browse around. It has reshaped customer expectations and is entertaining their experiences with evolved mechanisms. New retail is about creating a constant connection with the entire ecosystem no matter where a shopper is.
Remember the time, when going to a mall was about entering an air-conditioned multi-storeyed building offering a variety of brands in one place. It was the most fascinating experience for the longest time, as everything was available under one roof. We would simply make a purchase and walk out of a store without talking to anyone. That was just about it. There was no interaction or engagement.Soon these malls started offering a host of services like valet parking, baby changing and baby feeding rooms, currency exchange options, pharmacy stores, access for differently able with assistance, wheelchairs, prams accessibility, tailoring services, dry cleaning, driver’s lounge, car wash services, child safety bands and what not to entice customers to come to the mall and stay. This marked the debut of constant customer engagement programme in order to ensure footfall.
As the cultural mindsets and preferences of customers evolved we moved to a phase that was about innovation and creation. Customers had started gaining access to a plethora of information. They had become information savvy to the extent that before buying anything they were searching and reading about the brand, about the quality, checking reviews and comparing prices online through their smart-phone/ digital devices.
This began to prove that customers were no longer looking for generic items. They wanted high-quality, personalized experiences that were tailor-made for them but at the same time easy and hassle-free for them. They were looking for quick and easy interaction with personalized engagement. Thus the shopping mall experience had to evolve by strategically providing a twist to a simple mall visit.
There was a sudden shift from emails to SMS’s that helped streamline the engagement approach. Using social media as a conversation platform with the audience involved the likes of Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. It was a great way of simplifying the information stream. The messenger functionality and an automatic response was informing costumers about particular deals, discounts, promotions and offers pertaining to their favorite retailers. At the same time, a great user experience with convenience was being built in as well. WiFi’s and wallets for payments within the mall provided high levels of performance and customer satisfaction.
Sensors in their parking lots were installed to provide drivers with a visual indicator to detect how many parking spots were available on each level. They installed inventions like video walls, digital kiosks, and digital directories to offer quick and easy guides to help shoppers find what they’re looking for at a multi-level mall. While giving a brand consistency and an opportunity to up-sell there was an inexplicable connection being created.
But, this wasn’t enough. As technology progressed, so has digital disruption. We have reached an era where a proliferation of digital tools like apps, tablets, laptops, is transforming a shopper’s communication, engagement, an opportunity for collaboration, feedback and delivery procedures. They have started spending even more time on smart-phones and mobile devices and got accustomed to easy-to-use, high-quality digital products. Capturing their attention or pulling them out of their comfort zone into a unique physical space became a herculean task. There was a need to develop a new approach to the existing retail process that could not only help the business but also create a better experience for the entire ecosystem. Something, that could fulfill the current desire of reaching out to millennials, manually and technologically. Rather create moments of intense connection which resonated profoundly with their mindsets.
The new retail revolution hit base. The application of technology today is being used as a medium of re-imagining ways where one can deliver value to consumers while staying relevant in a supremely-connected market. Tools that are providing convenience, personalization, and a seamless, immersive experience without having consumers to look beyond their smartphones.
New retail, rather this game changer of a strategy enforces the likes of virtual reality, augmented reality, and even artificial intelligence, into creating digital and consumer connections. Adoption of fast-evolving smart technologies for providing in-store, interactive experiences that are fulfilling a mobile-savvy consumers’ desires, is enhancing and elevating the array of possibilities and experiences one witnesses at the mall. The application of phygital is using micro-targeted marketing strategies in order to build an unequaled experience for customers to interact and get further involved with the mall.
Imagine the exciting possibility to shop online while being physically present in the brand's outlet. Or the fact that while window shopping, you receive a message regarding a sale with a discount voucher just meant for you? Once inside, why bother changing in and out of several attires, AR will help you decide, what looks good on in terms, of clothes, makeup, accessories through virtual trial rooms. Virtual displays across the malls will even let you shop seamlessly online or in-store. Imagine placing an order, collect, return, or exchange products via the web, mobile, desktop, as well as through physical stores. A lot is happening whilst keeping the customer engaged in an entertaining way.
Even before they enter a mall, while passing one, the digital connectivity through Bluetooth and GPS entitles them to a personalized message from the retailer urging them to check out what is happening in the mall or a store. They are attracting shoppers and keeping them engaged with unique and relevant proposals. Now, isn’t this information enriching a customer’s shopping journey by delighting them no matter where they are without them having to move their eyes from their digital tool? That is the way new retail is changing the way consumers interact with and buy products. It is blending the physical and virtual worlds together by giving them access to information on their digital tools that make them believe in the purchase they are making.
And why just consumers, it is giving retailers the opportunity to bring in greater levels of operational efficiency and customer centricity in their business models. It is ultimately benefiting from the continued business of a satisfied customer When a customer sees’s a mall enhancing all their senses - touch, sight, sound, and taste combined with speedy access to give an experience one could never imagine before, they ultimately increase their loyalty.
Brands on the other hand, who are also employing these tactics are gaining instant gratification with constant consumer interaction in order to stay competitive. Item’s with embedded software or technology is connecting people and places together and enabling them to exchange data. It is helping them predict trends, forecast the demand for certain products, optimize the best pricing strategy in order to maintain a competitive edge and identify the customers who are likely to be interested in particular products by working out the best way to involve them. Keeping everyone up-to-date, ensuring no one misses an opportunity, stay relevant or ahead of your competitors, everything is becoming streamlined and convenient for everyone.
It is this interesting shift in customer buying patterns that get into existence implementation of many technology practices which were otherwise deemed to be a far-fetched dream. Malls and brands realized the imperativeness to adhere to a more rapidly evolving customer need by bringing in new advancements that involve easier access to products and easier advertising from brands. New Retail is a game changer in the retail fraternity and a boon to the new tech-savvy customer in every possible way. It is continuing to evolve, grow and reshape our shopping world.