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Time for retailers to work smart


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Whilst important, shopper technology is only one of


the ‘Three Pillars’ – Product, Service and Technology – that help maintain structure and deliver success in- store. Product must be on point and presented to a high standard, in order to appeal to shoppers and reinforce the brand’s proposition. Service is vital to ensuring shoppers return again and again. Technology can inject retail theatre but must also, importantly, deliver functional benefits to make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. In the race to bring shoppers the ‘next and the


new’, retailers forget an overriding consideration – as shoppers, we want to shop. Day-to-day, most of us want stores to place great retail standards, ease of shop and personal, attentive service above the value of retail teams holstering the latest iPads, or placing virtual mirrors in the changing rooms. To achieve that requires investment in effective VM policy and principles, as well as in people – providing store staff with structured learning workshops to embed knowledge and skills, enabling them to understand why ‘getting it right’ matters, as well as how to get best value from technology in order to improve the customer experience. The newer arts of brand delivery concern how


retailers integrate other marketing elements into the store experience as part of a connected shopper experience. It’s no surprise that the most digitally enabled retailers are frequently those that don’t appear to be. Think John Lewis. Its approach to the brand experience online, in its windows and in-store is, in


many ways, unremarkable yet ruthlessly consistent – letting shoppers enjoy the functional benefits of great service online, and the joys of an aspirational and very tangible retail experience in-store. Introducing banks of gleaming digital screens to


enable shoppers to go online in-store can be helpful, but they should not take too much of the focus. Do we really want to do all that pre-purchase research online, only to be faced with more screens in-store? Actually, most of us would probably rather embark on the process of actually shopping. So, the motto is still very much one of ‘just because


you can, doesn’t mean you should’. The common trap for many retailers is to simply attempt to ‘dress’ their stores with technology, rather than focusing on making it part of a truly integrated and memorable shopping experience. In an age where shoppers can compare every retailer


in minutes on their mobile device, the competition factor is increased. In many ways, this has made the use of tried and tested VM principles such as ‘like it, see it, buy it’ even more important, as retailers try to find more effective ways to unlock brand loyalty and maximise sales. While so much of life is gradually being sucked into the


backlit screens, our desire for shopping to be physical and tangible is unlikely to ever be fully replaced by technology. I have nothing but admiration for those who continue to push boundaries, but I respect far more the hands that can apply new thinking in-store in a way that’s considered, integrated and properly managed.


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