Engage & Connect
As ‘Phygital’ retailing progresses and grows, there is a development in to the more subtle use of technology. This can be seen in Dalziel &Pow’s concept for The White Company through the use of integrated projections in to the retail environment, where there is shift away from more traditional technology and touchscreens in to more curated solutions – creating an exciting opportunity in which to engage and connect with the customer.
The customer wants more personal and connected spaces that enhance their online and offline experience. Something that is seamless, natural and has a human touch, whilst being at the forefront of technological advances.
The use of technology in store shouldn’t just be about having a representation of their online offer or service in the physical environment. Creative thinking is pushing the connection of technology and physical environments in a direction that relates to the representation and communication of the brand language – technology has become a storytelling tool, which is creating exciting opportunities within the store.
Storytelling with technology also increases the opportunity for more interaction – the customers want to be able to create their own journey or leave their mark – brands need to be able to facilitate this and not be scared of it. Brands who are open to interaction will attract more customers and a stronger following.
A responsive retail environment with integrated technology that is concealed and instinctive surprises and delights the customer, giving them a sense of ownership of the space and their experience. Something that feels genuine and authentic creates a more intimate connection between the brand and the customer and encourages them to share it.
Brands need to use technology in their spaces, not because its new and shiny, they need to find the right type of technology that suits their brand’s tone of voice and the story they are telling. It’s not about ‘what technology do we want to use’, it’s about what experience do you want to create and how does that help and connect with the customer.
The high street is a social experience and shopping will remain a social activity that the online world can’t fully replace. Technology can create more immersive and deeper social experiences as well as streamlining the operations of the business and making transactions more efficient – there is a creative side to the use of technology in store as well as the more traditional solutions.
The key to successful engagement and connection is to use technology with human behaviour in mind. Otherwise it’s just a gimmick. The use of Beacon’s, for example, on the high street is struggling to have impact, mainly because of the lack of contextual information. However, Facebook’s Place Tips is looking to break this barrier by tailoring its platform to match the user’s location. Place Tips beacons deliver site-specific content on Facebook, such as posts from the business’ Facebook Page, upcoming events and friends’ recommendations and check-ins, which goes straight to the top of the News Feed. This is putting real-time, location specific information about the brand in front of the customer at the right time for them.
Could this to be progressed further to fully integrate in to the store experience and not be about pushing product. Could it send you information about the collection concept as you walk past a display? Could the beacon send you a catwalk video as you’re looking at a mannequin? Again, how can the story be enhanced? How can the experience be enriched in an interesting and unexpected way?
The increase in mobile technology is massive, as it puts the choice for the customer to receive the information in the palm of their hands. Already having a large impact on the transactional side of retailing through placing orders, purchasing and comparing products, connecting this with an in store experience will help to strengthen the retailers overall proposition – give the customer the opportunity to better inform themselves about your brand, your story and your products, but don’t spam them. This connects back to using technology with human behaviour at the forefront – have a proper understanding of the customer and what they want through personalisation but most important give them the choice and give them the control.
Brands that allow their customers to make their mark or alter the experience to suit them will create an emotional and memorable experience.
A hard hitting example of this was a billboard campaign from domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid which uses facial recognition software to encourage passers-by not to turn a blind eye, therefore engaging with people on an emotional and physical level.
This technology gives the viewer the power to shape what they see. Look At Me, developed by marketing agency WCRS London, uses the software to register the gaze of passing viewers. As more people take notice of the billboard, the more the bruised face of the victim starts to heal.
A way of illustrating the power of the individual and showing an outcome of their participation and reaction creates a personal connection with the viewer.
This has even greater impact being subtly integrated in to our physical surroundings, the unexpected result for the viewer generating a more meaningful experience and something that will be even more memorable as the campaign pulls on the emotional strings in a visual way, showing that you can make a difference when you take notice and reminds you of what can happen if you just walk by something and ignore it.
The digital world is more impactful when seamlessly joined with human behaviour, reaction and emotion. This creates a more engaging story which the customer will remember – whether it’s about a product, a brand or something much more important.