Today’s brick-and-mortar stores are aware that the shopper landscape is no longer straightforward, or stable, or seemingly predictable. Retailers used to control one or two touchpoints when it came to the shopping journey—but technology has flipped that on its head, and put the shopper in the driver’s seat. In-store shopping is still a thing—but it’s just one channel in a cornucopia of buying options.
The reasons go beyond e-commerce and Amazon—it involves a much bigger shift in shopper trends over the past 30 years. But what are today’s retailers to do? That answer involves thinking outside the box and look at emerging technology as a friend, not a foe. At InContext, we’re continually talking to retailers and getting feedback on their current burning issues. There are many challenges that pop up, but two stand out as pain points that most physical stores face. The following outlines those common threads, and how our mixed reality (MR) retail solutions platform, ShopperMX™, is helping to solve them.
Boost Store Traffic
One of the top concerns for every retailer is the decline in store traffic. Everyone is thinking about ways to increase traffic, but most are lost on where to start or how to best prompt real change.
Improving the in-store shopping experience to either bring new shoppers in, or entice current shoppers to visit more frequently is the goal, but what is the solution? In order to improve the shopping experience, retailers must first experiment with new shelf configurations, new store layouts and designs, and introduce new point of purchase assets like displays and signage to help entice or educate shoppers.
Instead of relying on historical data—or worse, simply making a best guess—about what in-store concepts will truly engage customers, virtual retail simulations allow teams to visualize new layouts and designs before making any physical changes, and then virtually test those new concepts with real shoppers, through cloud-based shopping exercises. This gives retailers a solid base to work from, before ever testing in the physical store—saving time and money in the process. Without the need for mock centers and the long timeline that comes with traditional shopper research, stores can create and compare multiple concepts in order to find the one that best resonates with shoppers.
In such a competitive space, retailers don’t want to tip their hat when it comes to testing and implementing a successful concept. Traditional in-store testing often means competitors can scope out your new ideas, allowing them to react and reconfigure their own concepts. Additionally, this disrupts the natural flow of the stores, confusing current customers.
By leveraging MR, stores can test their new scenarios without the competition learning about any innovative concepts. Virtual keeps everything under the radar until you’re ready to go ahead with a winning concept that strikes a chord with respondents.
Mixed reality solutions for retail are allowing both retailers and manufacturers to more easily and successfully navigate the new retail ecosystem we find ourselves in today. If you haven't considered MR to help you reignite your foot traffic and better compete with others within the space, I invite you to to learn more.
This post was originally published on October 12, 2017. Last updated on May 8, 2018.