Digital retail theater is becoming reality for consumers as retailers rush to find ways of attracting and retaining store customers.  What is digital retail theater?  It’s the combination of original retail theater – entertainment, novelty, and engagement – with digital technologies and services to create the next level of in-store experience.  My colleague, Brendan Miller outlines an example of this in his blog, “Consumers go to Whole Foods to shop but also to discover new foods, attend wine tastings, pick up prepared foods, and enjoy a cup of organic coffee.”

Pervasive Digital Experiences

At Forrester, we’re wary of “bright shiny objects”.  But a recent family trip through our local mall revealed that top retail store brands are working with a variety of digital store technologies. In addition to mall-wide free WiFi, some of those that my family and I observed included:

  • The Lego Store – My kids honed right in on a Harry Potter Lego set by scanning it under a video screen. Immediately popped up a picture of my kids holding the box, and atop it was the complete castle with flags and all – with depth perspective on the screen that moved as my kids moved the box around.  Augmented reality combined with video technology attracted kids to the final product.
  • Sephora – My wife tried the Color IQ scanner combined with Sephora Virtual Artist tech.[1] She found the right foundation color to purchase and tried out some new looks without having to physically apply the mascara, makeup or eyelashes.  Sephora could collect customer preference data for personalization, aggregate marketing, and immediately cross-sell based on her selections.
  • Anthropologie – Another of my wife’s favorite stores – this time the store associate used a clienteling app on a tablet strapped to her hand to talk about the latest items and product details for new summer looks.
  • The Apple Store – Not your everyday retailer, Apple of course offers a smaller store assortment than many other retailers. Apple has long offered clienteling as well as efficient mobile POS (mPOS) – services we welcomed as we bought a new iPhone 7.
  • Amazon Popup – The kids couldn’t leave without taunting Alexa with a series of jokes through the Echo, Dot, and the Echo Show. By introducing the Amazon brand name during the same shopping experience as other retailers, the mall customer puts Amazon in the same comfort zone as major mall retailers.  The Amazon popup is a key entrance point into the physical world – selling primarily Amazon’s own product lines attractively displayed on high quality wood veneer shelving.
  • JCPenney – JCPenney was an exception to other retailers offering in-store WiFi in that they not only offered WiFi, but also in-store messaging and push notification services if you registered your details and phone.
  • The Tesla Store – Who can resist admiring the sleek Tesla technology, styling, and engineering? The company reinforces its brand through digital video signage to walk potential customers through the experience of owning a Tesla – with a real-life showroom example just a few feet away.

Forrester Resources

The Forrester Digital Store Tech Radar for both customer experience and store operations analyzes how these technologies are evolving. If you’re thinking about the next level of in-store experience for your customers and your associates, I recommend that you consult these guides, check out our Digital Store Playbook, and schedule an inquiry.

Upcoming Webinar

Additionally, please join my colleague Andre Kindness and me on August 15th for an in-depth webinar where we’ll discuss several digital store technologies – including mPOS, associate enablement, and WiFi – that put the customer and associate experience first.

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