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Reinventing the Shopping Experience

 
April 1, 2016

One of my favorite jokes by late comedian Mitch Hedberg goes something like this:

Someone handed me a picture and said, “This is a picture of me when I was younger.” Every picture of you is when you were younger. Now if you want to really impress me, show me a picture of you when youre older. Id go, Where’d you get that camera man?

It turns out seeing a picture of our future selves is not that difficult to imagine these days. Leading retail brands are undergoing digital transformation to more effectively engage with their customers, leveraging data and technology to create unbelievable customer experiences. Sensors, iBeacons, self-service screens and magic mirrors make it possible for retailers to deliver a personalized and relevant shopping experience we could never have imagined just a few years agoeven allowing them to see themselves in the future.

The retailer, Rebecca Minkoff, demonstrates how data and technology can be leveraged to create exceptional in-store customer experiences. Customers can browse and select products using augmented reality touchscreens on connected walls. By entering their mobile phone number, customers are alerted when a dressing room with their selections is ready. Once in the smart fitting room, customers can adjust the lighting to see how items look in different settings, click on the mirror to have additional items brought to their fitting room, and pay for any items they wish to purchase quickly and easily on their mobile phones.

Magic mirrors, RFID technology and interactive displays make the Rebecca Minkoff experience possible. Not only is the customer immersed in a unique, personalized experience, the retailer is able to build deeper customer engagement while garnering new, information about their preferences. The connected fitting rooms enable Rebecca Minkoff to capture dressing room abandonment and conversion in a manner similar to the way they collect shopping cart abandonment and conversion rates online, providing them with a holistic picture of the omni-channel consumer. To find out more about how Rebecca Minkoff and eBay collaborated to create these connected stores, read the article, Digital changing room and interactive mirrors at Rebecca Minkoff.

LOrals is another company using data and technology to engage with customers and deliver new, more personalized shopping experience. LOral offers a Makeup Genius App that can be downloaded on iOS and Android phones and tablets. The app takes a photo of the customers face and offers customers an instant makeover using their products. Customers can select looks they like, virtually try products on, and instantly order their selections online or pick them up in a store. Images of them in their new look can be saved and shared with friends. The smart app tracks customer activity, preferences and purchases and tailors responses based on that data. The experience is easy, personalized and fun, leading to deeper customer engagement and loyalty. It also provides LOral with a wealth of information about their customers. Read more about the LOral Makeup Genius App and see a video of the app in action.

There are many other examples of retailers who are investing in their digital transformation efforts in order to understand and serve their customers better across all channels. Warby Parker, the designer eyewear provider who reinvented how people buy glasses online, is exploring technology that will enable customers to conduct eye exams with their phones. Westfield Labs has created a connected world of personalized shopping that starts before the customer visits their shopping centers and doesnt end when they leave. Online apps allow customers to browse items at home, plan their shopping excursion, pre-order lunch, and get maps that show them where to go along with trends, services and experiences along the way. Hands free shopping with delivery of purchases to their car or home extends the experience, making shopping easier, more convenient and more fun.

To win and retain todays digitally savvy customers, retailers must leverage new technologies and data from all sources in order to deliver personalized, differentiated experiences across all channels. They must find ways to inspire and delight customers while learning more about them with each and every exchange. They must create a vision customers share, and maybe even show them a picture of themselves in the future, when they are older.

Kathleen Holm is Marketing Director of the TCS Digital Software & Solutions (DS&S) Group. She has more than 25 years of experience marketing technology software and services to enterprises worldwide. She leverages her extensive background in enterprise software technology to help organizations develop effective marketing strategies, create targeted messaging and positioning, and implement effective go-to-market plans to improve corporate performance. Prior to joining TCS, Kathleen was a Senior Principal of technical product marketing for Oracle Fusion Middleware where she was responsible for defining the marketing strategy based on industry maturity and customer trends. She also held positions at IBM including Market Manager for WebSphere Developer Programs, Market Manager for Tivoli Integrated Service Management and Tivoli Brand Specialist. Prior to joining IBM, Kathleen worked with four high-tech startups.