The Future of Physical Retail: Connected Stores

Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Connected Store, Innovation, Omnichannel, Retail

At CloudTags, we are constantly thinking about the future of retail as it relates to the physical store. While some industry pundits see traditional brick and mortar as a thing of the past, they don’t see the other part of the equation: that retail stores will undergo the same disruptive innovation as e-commerce did in the late ’90s. Physical retail isn’t going anywhere, but it must evolve to meet the expectations of today’s consumers in order to succeed.

We see the future of physical retail thriving through the Connected Store model: small-format spaces with little to no inventory in-house and a digital infrastructure that informs and entertains shoppers. It’s about relevant, personalized content and enjoyable brand experiences that leverage genuine connections to form loyal shoppers. The vision of a Connected Store is built upon three primary tenets:

Focusing on Experience, Not Inventory

In the Connected Store, customer experience is at the forefront. Spaces that are brand coherent, helpful store associates, engaging and/or interactive digital content, the ability for customers to get what they need when and how they need it. In the Connected Store, it’s less about how much inventory is available and more about creating a memorable, frictionless visit with a personalized follow-up post store visit.

Catering to Both Digitally Empowered Shoppers & Retailers

With attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish, shoppers are quick to move from one thing to the next, especially with a smartphone in their hand. By plugging into the devices they already use while in the store, retailers infuse the digital layer with the physical experience and are able to win back some of that attention. Relevant, contextual content is key in making sure the digital layer adds value and not bulk.

Leading to Greater ROI for Retailers

By focusing on positive in-store experiences and owning the digital layer, retailers see increases in sales, brand loyalty, and lifetime customer value. The initial investment in better training for store associates and high-quality in-store technology becomes a drop in the bucket compared to the return of happier, more engaged customers.

The greatest fear of the small-box future for retailers is not having, or having fewer, physical products with which to persuade a sale; retailers are afraid that a limited selection could leave shoppers feeling underwhelmed. The fact is that it is still possible to influence sales and buying behavior without physical products. With effective in-store technology, positive in-store experiences, and a strategic follow-up loop, retailers can, in fact, make a greater impact on sales and brand association.

Read more on the Connected Store and how it impacts customers, staff, and leadership. For information on how CloudTags can connect your store, contact us.