The Store(s) Of The Future: 5 Need-to-Knows For Deploying In-Store Tech at Scale

Mar 27, 2017 — Lana Chunn
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If you’ve been into a flagship store of your favorite retailer, you’ve probably noticed sleek design features combined with the latest innovative technology created to enhance the in-store experience.

Despite a recent article claiming it’s a myth, the store of the future concept is growing. That is reflected by the amount of tech heavy flagship locations cropping up in big cities. The value of the in-store experience has garnered industry-wide acknowledgment resulting in a mad dash to redefine brick-and-mortar retail experiences. Flagship stores are built to impress customers and create a memorable experience, the type of experience that builds brand loyalty and a returning customer. But can you scale the 'wow-factor' offered by pilot locations?

Simply put, yes, but an adequate amount of research, thorough planning and preparation need to happen prior to jumping in. Here are five factors to consider when launching your new in-store experience to the masses.

1. Do you have your customer journey nailed down?  

Before investing in technology and scaling it out to all locations, it is critical that you understand and are familiar with your customer's path to purchase. What does that mean? It means truly getting to know who your customers are. What are their biggest friction points? What problem are they trying to solve? How many touchpoints on average does it take them to transact? Which channels are they using? Once you have clarity on the customer journey, you'll be in a better position make choices on the technology that will work for them. 

2. Are the lines of communication open? 

Are your teams communicating? Are your e-commerce and physical retail teams operating completely separate from each other? If so, it doesn't matter how much you invest in technology because the siloed departments will hold you back. The success of your redefined in-store experience largely depends on how cohesive your approach to innovation is internally, from your technology team down to your brand ambassadors in-store. It will take time for your corporate culture to change, but with help, you'll get there. Consider a Chief Omnichannel Officer role to bridge the gap between offline and online realms.

3. Is this the technology for your customers? 

Before making any final decisions ask yourself these questions: Is the technology you've chosen the best for your customers and your employees? Can it eventually be deployed across all of your locations? Technology for the sake of technology is never the answer. Be sure you are clear on which problem the solution is solving for your customers and how that fits into the digital evolution of your brand on a larger scale.

4. Have you connected all the dots?

Are your internal systems optimized to support your omnichannel experience? Both back-end and front-end systems should draw from a consistent source of data. For this, you should have a centralized database. To boost scalability and shorten time to market for disseminating consistent content throughout locations you should invest in an enterprise content management tool. Is the technology you've chosen API-driven? To remain flexible for future innovation choose a solutions provider that develops on open APIs allowing for growth and change. 

5. Do you have a strong support system? 

Evaluate the support you'll have from the solutions provider you've chosen. Do they have a team of launch specialists? Will you have a dedicated account manager to guide you through the process? What is their track record for large-scale technology deployments? What is the estimated period for a roll out to all of your locations? These are just a couple of the questions you'll want to know the answer to before you launch your store(s) of the future. 

Ultimately, it is entirely possible to achieve and scale the store of the future if you go into it fully prepared. You'll need to work very closely with your teams and software provider to carefully consider these factors so you can make informed decisions throughout every step of the journey. 

Retail thought-leaders agree that, to achieve omnichannel proficiency, you can’t do without great in-store experiences. But when you ask which in-store technologies to focus on, a consensus is hard to come by.

The findings from a recent RetailWire survey reveal a lot about what in-store tech is getting the highest priority from retailers looking to tune up their stores for the omnichannel age, including how they intend to better serve digital shoppers from in-store. Watch our on-demand webinar for the results.

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Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Omnichannel Retail

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