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Creating an immersive retail brand experience

I have been exploring some of the key themes that will be discussed at the Retail Week CX Summit and Awards in London this week. It’s one of the biggest annual events for those involved in retail in the UK and offers a great chance to hear what people are saying and thinking about the industry.


Creating an immersive retail brand experience

One of the main discussion topics is “how to create immersive retail brand experiences.” Of course every retailer would love to say that their shoppers are immersed in the brand, but what do they really mean? I believe there are three ways that retail is changing today where this becomes a clear part of the strategy for interacting with customers:

Conversations; customers no longer contact a customer service line after a purchase, they are having conversations and different types of engagement with brands at all stages in their relationship with retailers. Customers might tweet a clothes store to ask about stock levels or use Facebook to ask a supermarket about recipes – these interactions with retail brands go far beyond what we used to call customer service enquiries.

Apps; retailers are enhancing both the in-store and online experience by building apps that go beyond just offering a shopping facility alone. Apps that offer augmented reality deals inside department stores are unlocking new offers and utilising the data the retailer has on customers.

New ways of shopping; there are ways of tying together systems such as payment and loyalty with the mobile experience, so customers can have a better shopping experience because they can utilise various other systems that improve their relationship with the retailer.

For examples of this changing customer behaviour just look to a huge brand like Starbucks. Customers using their app can pay for a coffee direct from their phone. They can even order before they get to the store, allowing them to pickup on arrival so they avoid the queue. All purchases are recorded for loyalty points. The app is therefore combining several technologies in a way that makes the experience better than just going to the store itself.

The L’Oreal makeup genius app completely rethinks how customers buy makeup by allowing them to apply virtual products to an image of their own face. Anything that looks good can be purchased from inside the app. The brand is immersing the customer in how their products look and facilitating the purchase of anything that looks good.

I think all these areas of immersion are important and in particular how the idea of customer loyalty has moved much more toward a relationship with the customer, rather than a loyalty card. If you really want to create an immersive retail experience you need to think about how to really engage customers with your products.

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