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Ed King: A Retail Innovation Report for the Rest of Us

By Ed King

With our collective decades of in-store retail innovation experience, we get asked a lot of questions. For the past few years, we’ve found the one burning question retailers have consistently asked us is, “Which in-store technologies should we be looking at?”

The conversation usually starts with the retailers’ desire to be relevant to today’s digitally connected shopper. It’s no secret that technology is sexy and an explosion of shiny new tech options hit the scene almost daily. Retailers — and brands who sell at retail — are inundated by agencies, store design firms and technology providers offering the lofty promise, “This ‘thing’ we’re doing will be the future of retail!”

The question our clients are really asking us is, “What should we be doing that will give our shoppers a better experience, generate more sales, and won’t break the bank?”

It became clear to us that retailers have no unbiased source to turn to when reviewing the latest retail technologies such as voice interaction, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Further, they have nobody objective to help evaluate the usefulness of these technologies in charting a course for their success today and in the future.

This lack of an objective voice in the retail conversation drove us to create the HighStreet Retail Innovation Radar Report. Our 19-page report is designed to guide retailers and brands in the right direction by doing the following:

• Provide examples of both good and bad digital retail experiences from across the globe

• Identify science-based insights regarding the human brain and evolving shopper behavior

• Rate shoppers’ in-store technology expectations using an easy-to-understand 1-10 scale

 

Published quarterly, the HighStreet Retail Innovation Radar Report rates the top 12 in-store technologies (on a scale from 1-10) based on the following criteria:

  1. Functionality: Has the technology shown some measure of success in the retail world?
  2. Shopper Acceptance: How ready are shoppers to engage with said technology?
  3. Business Impact: Does the technology have the potential to create significant business results?

 

This is Not Your Father’s Tech Report

Omitting the word technology from the report’s title was intentional. Although we know that tech talk dominates the narrative these days when it comes to retail, we wanted to offer something more. We set out to make a reference guide for those who aren’t technologists. You won’t find much (if any) tech speak in the report. We keep it simple, visual, easy-to-read, quick to reference and digestible for anyone who is interested in creating the future of retail.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Our work is informed by our study of neuroscience, human biology and our decades of experience in the retail space. When we dug into our own experience, our hunches and our case studies, we found that despite tech being the hot new attractive thing, we couldn’t ignore the one thing that makes retail possible – the shopper. But don’t take our word for it, here are some eye-opening statistics to consider.

Physical Shopping Isn’t Going Anywhere

  • For items other than groceries, 44% of consumers said they shop in stores daily or weekly, up from 36% in 20143 — and most consumers say they’ll want more human interaction in the future
  • 50% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs5

The Business Case for In-Store Digital

  • 35% of retailers cite the inability to build and justify the business case for investment as a top challenge — and 38% cite lack of an integrated digital strategy as a top impediment for investing in in-store digital2
  • There is a 25% revenue upside to delivering a great digital customer experience in the store2

Digital is leveraged in 46% of in-store shopping experiences2

Human First

  • Today, 64% of U.S. consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience
  • 71% of Americans would rather interact with a human than a chatbot or some other automated process
  • An average of 48% of U.S. consumers point to friendly, welcoming service as uniquely defining success in an industry; while only 32% pointed to having the ‘most up-to-date technology’

There’s no denying that shopper expectations are at an all-time high. It’s a no-brainer that when strategically deployed, the right technology can help create a better shopper experience. And it’s a sad, but very real fact that retailers haven’t yet been able to consistently leverage in-store digital in a way that both delights shoppers and keeps the cash register ringing.

Readers can download the report for free and sign up for future reports at www.HighStreetX.com/radar.

 

1 2018 PwC Customer Experience Report 

2 BRP’s Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report

3 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey, PxC

4 PwC’s Digital IQ survey

5 Salesforce 2017 Report

 

Ed King is co-founder of The HighStreet Collective, a retail consultancy hyper-focused on innovating the in-store shopping experience for today’s connected shopper. Thanks to technology and ecommerce, shoppers’ expectations continue to rise, while the rate of innovation at retail has lagged behind. Serving forward-thinking brands and retailers, HighStreet helps close this “experience gap” by giving shoppers meaningful reasons to come back into the store. Ed can be reached at [email protected]

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