Shopping is becoming more exciting for consumers, thanks to a host of "enhanced personalization" technologies.
At the Under Armour Virtual Brandhouse in Boston, you peer into a "periscope" built into a wall, and a video recording of Boston Red Sox favorite Jackie Bradley, Jr. welcomes you and guides you on the tour.
Visit the See's Candies store at the San Francisco International Airport at Christmas, and you come face to face with a screen that shows your reflection merging into a bright, animated snowman that starts to mimic your moves.
But "enhanced personalization" experiences can do more than simply entertain consumers. As technologies evolve merging the physical with the digital worlds, brands are finding new ways to meet customers' shopping needs in the store.
The "Nike Makers Experience" that recently opened at Nike By You Studio in New York City merges digital design with traditional shoe making, allowing consumers to try on shoes, then have the shoes made on the spot in less than 90 minutes – via dynamic object tracking and projection systems that instantly bring designs to life.
"It's driving the customer into the store," said David Anzia, senior vice president of sales at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. "They (the customer) know they can get that product the same day. That's amazing."
Increased selling opportunities
From the retailer's perspective, such experiences create in-store selling opportunities.
"While they're in store, you're still able to sell them additional items," Anzia said.
Cabela's, the sporting goods retailer, allows customers to get the feel for shooting a hand gun while viewing the store's selection of firearms. Air compression built into the store's Gun Hub kiosk creates the sense of shooting the gun while an immersive, 55-inch touchscreen display guides the customer through hundreds of firearms.
"You can browse hundreds of firearms in an immersive, 55-inch touch display, easily compare models side-by-side in an intuitive environment, and finally demo real handguns with a safe, CO2 recoil system and state-of-the-art shot placing technology," Brandon Beck, Cabela's commercialization senior manager for property design and development, told Kiosk Marketplace.
"We knew that we needed to maximize space by blending physical product with cutting-edge technology to elevate the consumer experience to something that you can only find in our stores," Beck said.
"The main objective was to protect the magic of our brand experience," he said. "Retail has consistently been getting smaller, which creates a significant challenge for an experiential retailer like us that has focused on museum-like taxidermy to drive traffic in the past."
Creating the Gun Hub experience required extensive planning. The project involved foam core research, spatial research and a lot of engineering to cantilever large monitors from the display.
Frank Mayer & Associates built temporary structures to replicate the display to allow Cabela's to envision the display's overall size, which allowed them to engineer models that would withstand the cantilevers of the large monitors and the weight of the structure.
"We spent a lot of time realistically engineering the display, working through a lot of form factors, working through a lot of constraints that the client wanted to make a very usable display, and one that withstood the rigors of what they wanted the display to do," Anzia said.
The software leverages a number of APIs that call for store specific data and national level data from the company's systems of record.
The most innovative aspect of the Gun Hub, according to Beck, is how one seamless experience appeals to the first-time participant all the way to the seasoned firearms pro. He sees great potential for blending the physical with the digital.
More opportunities ahead
"We believe there are plenty of opportunities throughout other categories of our business where we can blend the physical and digital worlds to create one-of-a-kind retail experiences," Beck said.
Anzia agrees. He also believes self-serve kiosks will be playing an important role in customer personalization initiatives, thanks to growing consumer acceptance of interactive technology.
"They (customers) are willing to walk up to interactive displays in a number of environments and actually utilize them," Anzia said. This is particularly noticeable in quick-serve restaurants and entertainment facilities.
|Dave & Buster's loyalty kiosks rewards points directly to gamers' cards.|
Dave & Buster's, for example, another Frank Mayer & Associates client, redesigned its loyalty kiosks to provide "ticket-less" rewards points directly to the gamer's cards as customers became more comfortable with interactive technology.
"Allowing members to register their card while they're in the store lets them begin earning rewards from the moment they leave the kiosk," Raechel Peters, Dave & Buster's CRM and email marketing specialist, told Kiosk Marketplace. About half of the new rewards members register via the kiosk.
"Between both the power card kiosks and rewards kiosks, they allow customers to self serve when they need to purchase game play, check balances or register for rewards," Peters said. "This gives our staff the ability to focus more on other guest needs such as food and drink service, game assistance or questions/concerns of any kind."
"Where people used to go up to a counter and sign up for a rewards program or sign up for a fulfillment program, they can (now) simply swipe their rewards card or sign up for the members' programs right on these kiosks," Anzia said. "They don't have to interact with personnel there."
"It's an overall acceptance and comfort level with interactive screens and technology," he said.
"Customers are going to continue to flock to them because there is a comfort level with what they do and how they help the customer interact," said Anzia.
"I think you're going to see less digital signage in-store and more interactive displays," he said. "It's what's going to drive the experience for the customer."
|Interactive kiosks: Connecting with consumers at retail|
Add a new dimension to the in-store shopping experience and drive consumer sales. Branded point-of-purchase displays and interactive kiosks deliver an enriched store experience, educational product information, plus customer loyalty programs Learn More
Companies: Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
Elliot Maras Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.