Retailers are getting really touchy…

By Stuart Armstrong

As Omnichannel has become more than a buzzword, most all emerging research is reinforcing that people no longer see any difference between ‘channels’. In their minds, they buy stuff—sometimes online, sometimes on mobile, sometimes in stores—you get the drift. If they are shopping for something, they’re just shopping based on whatever tool or touchpoint floats their boat at that moment. Simple, right?  Conceptually maybe, but to make things *this* fluid, some dots need to be connected—and in physical stores, they are often connected on touch screens.

Why, you might ask, should we be ‘getting touchy’ with shoppers on in-store screens? There are humans helping us in stores, we shouldn’t have to do that! But think a little harder about it. How on earth is the average Joe (or Susan) going to be able to house the limitless info the average screen can deliver via their average brain? Or magically know how to recommend exactly what a customer might like based upon past purchase history? Or be able to give a quick demo perfectly on point 100% of the time? Or quickly share the most recent user reviews on a product to nix any decision doubt? Or quickly order up something that the store doesn’t carry on the shelves without hassle? You get my point. Tech is supposed to help customers help themselves…but it’s also there to help associates help them more successfully too.

I must say, the industry is really impressing me with how they are getting touchy with touch in the store—both with the tech and the use cases. A few notable examples that caught my interest:

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  • Magic Mirrors like the one MasterCard helped created that lean on RFID to log size and color requests, plus recommend items in-store, to match what the shopper has already taken into the changing room—and also allow them to pay.
  • 3D Sensor experiences like those Perch is making real that are able to detect when consumers pick up and put down products and trigger “delightful and informative experiences at that critical moment when they consider purchase.” Kind of like an in-store recommendation engine.
  • The new Suning store in Asia called Biu that has their Anywhere AR, making it possible for shoppers to put virtual products into real scenes so that they can make a decision in whatever context they find most relevant. It also has a voice-and text-activated Smart Sue Shopping Assistant and facial payment.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I hope I’m making the point that there’s no shortage of inspiration for the creative use of touch in today’s retail stores. There’s still plenty of room for experiential imagination, so get touchy—and see what this ever-evolving omnichannel connection point can do for your retail experience!