Journal Vol. 3
The way we buy and sell things has probably changed more in the last five years than the previous hundred. Spoilt by a raft of new technologies, we’ve become a whole lot more expectant about our retail journeys, both on and offline. Whether it’s demanding the sort of in-store experiences you’d previously only find on the closing night of Glastonbury or V.I.P. treatment at global retail chains, brands have a lot to live up to. In this edition of the AF Journal, our Folk take a look at how to cater for this new breed of unreasonable shopper.
Designed & Illustrated \ Ana Iugulescu Edited \ Nick McWilliams & Joe Thomas
CONTENTS 4Five things our folk dig 6Six awesome apps 12The future of digital retail 16Winning in the last 3 feet 20Tailoring experiences that suit 24Content sells 28Data shot 30Any way you want it 36Mobile-friendly is shopper-friendly 38Letâ€™s get physical 42Top tech cards
five THINGS our FOLK DIG
\\ Kirsty Hathaway \\ Editor In Chief \\ London
From the makers of Where The Fuck Should I Go For Drinks, this site answers the all-important questions, decisively. Because sometimes we are lost for inspiration and just need someone to suggest, “why don’t you eat some fucking oven-braised barbecue brisket.” Recipes included.
We love an underdog. This site takes the 4 million songs on Spotify that, to this day, have never been listened to, and puts them into the limelight. By clicking ‘start listening’ those forgotten-about tunes are put in a playlist ready for playing. You may just discover something amazing. But probably not.
http://www.eebria.com This is the only online marketplace delivering the “freshest and rarest” in craft alcohol. Nothing mediocre hits its roster, as a rigorous ‘blind taste test panel’ back each new product. So we’re safe in the knowledge we’ll never get a bad drink. Discovery Club members receive a regular changing case of 12 different amazing beers. So long, liver.
KEPLER SPACE TELESCOPE Vol. 3
It’s found over 1,000 alien exoplanets. We dig that. NASA’s exoplanet hunting machine reached the big milestone in January, including two (relatively) habitable super Earths. But don’t pack your bags just yet – they’re a few hundred light years away.
http://marvelapp.com Who needs developers anyway? No coding necessary for this free mobile app that creates interactive prototypes. Marvel turns sketches, wireframes and Photoshop files that are synced with Dropbox into a clickable demo.
six AWESOME apps 1
Stay focused, stop phubbing
\\ Kate Sigrist \\ Designer \\ New York
Forest is beautiful in its simplicity: whenever you’re in need of time to focus, you just fire up the app, plant a virtual seed, and then try not to use your phone for thirty minutes. Each undisturbed seed grows into a tree (and failed attempts get logged as sad, withered indictments of your device addiction). Over time you’ll become the proud owner of a dense green forest, where every tree represents half an hour of glorious productivity. Perfect for Pomodoro enthusiasts and for anyone who needs a little time away from their phone.
High fidelity podcasts for iPhone
If you’re after a simple, good-looking alternative to the regular Apple podcast app, you could do a lot worse than Castro. The interface is sophisticated yet simple: it offers features such as variable playback speed and time scrubbing without overloading on functionality. This simplicity makes it great for those of us who just want to listen to Serial and a couple of other podcasts without getting lost in a sea of episodes and features.
A gym membership for the mind
Headspace is an unusual and very popular app, which promises to make mindfulness accessible in everyday life. It does this by providing a program of short, guided meditations voiced by Buddhist monk-turned-TED-speaker, Andy Puddicombe. What could easily have felt out of place as an app, in fact becomes extremely relevant and accessible thanks to a slick interface, charming animations and an easy, almost game-like learning curve. Brilliant for anyone who occasionally needs a time out.
4. Monument Valley
An illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness
Arguably the most beautiful game released last year. Players must help a silent princess named Ida navigate a maze of impossible 3D architecture, which twists and turns as you rotate the landscape (imagine a world devised by M.C. Escher, if Escher painted in pastels and had a fixation with crows). The game itself is short – clocking in at an hour or so of continuous play – but the stunning visuals and immersive soundtrack stand up well to repeat plays, and there’s already an expansion available.
Your stories, as they happen
Storehouse is a photography app that encourages you to select groups of photos and videos, write stories around them and share them with other members. It may sound basic but these simple tools lead to stunning results: it’s surprisingly easy to get lost for hours in other peoples’ stories and the experience feels a lot more serendipitous than most publications or blogs. Plus, the system is so foolproof and encouraging that it’s very straightforward to get creating yourself, with rewarding results.
An application for tracking the things you care about
This app is the master of tracking things. Set it to pop up at different times of day and ask you questions (for instance what you’re doing or who you’re with) and to track information such as number of steps walked and photos taken. It’ll then pull everything together into fascinating graphs and visualisations of your daily trends. The ability to set your own questions is what’s key here: whether you’re looking to fix bad habits, to log daily life lessons, to keep track of what you eat or whether you’re simply a huge data nerd, Reporter is a powerful way to get insights into your own life.
THE FUTURE of digital retail \\ Zach Pentel \\ Strategy Director & Partner \\ New York
The next two years will bring about new behavioural realities of deviceconnected retail environments. What sort of shopper habits will develop as new retail technologies become widespread and expected by the consumer? And most importantly, what can retailers actually do about it? Yes, current retail environments (both on and offline) are data-rich and increasingly personalised. But culture hasn’t caught up yet. In the past, technological advances in retail have been defined by the friction they introduced to the shopping process, rather than convenience. Think of the current state of self-checkouts; theoretically timesaving, but in practice just an often-broken inconvenience. It hardly feels like progress. But not for long. As we’ll examine in the pages that follow, retailers are growing savvy and sophisticated in their use of new technologies to improve customer experience (and their bottom line). As these realities take hold and culture adapts around new technological promise, entirely new consumer patterns and expectations will emerge.
pro-data, not anti-privacy Today’s consumer already gives up a tremendous amount of personal data through the ways they spend, browse, travel, and communicate. That said, people are largely ignorant of the way this data is used, even though retailers have begun to weave non-transactional user data into their commerce strategies. To date, most retailers have approached the use of customer data with extreme caution. Privacy is a major issue; spooking their customers could generate publicity issues at best, and plummeting profits at worst. But as more retailers learn how to eloquently use customer data to provide an improved retail experience, customers will generate tolerance – and preference – for the practice. Of course, there have been some highly-publicised missteps over the last few years that have given datapowered commerce a bad name. Target, for example, devised a way to find out when women were entering their second
trimester of pregnancy – a key time period during which purchasing habits are in flux. But they used the data in a decidedly insensitive way, targeting moms-to-be before acknowledging exactly how the brand had identified their pregnancy. For a consumer group unaccustomed to brands acknowledging their purchasing habits, this was highly unwelcome. And needless to say, it was a painful learning experience for Target. Inevitably, there will be a gradual increase in the cultural knowledge surrounding how retailers use their data. In the best cases, it will save people money and time. Over time, consumers will develop an expectation of smart, highlypersonalised retail environments. It won’t be a novelty or a nice-to-have. It will be a necessity.
clumsily, retailers who predict consumer preferences will be perceived as subverting customer choice. But retailers who use their predictive algorithms to create simplified choice for their customers, while maintaining a consumer’s ability to evaluate and make unilateral purchasing decisions, will thrive.
keeping money in curious places Today, the average consumer’s purchasing power comes exclusively via debit, credit, and cash. But that’ll soon change. Venmo, PayPal, individual merchant accounts by Amazon and Google, and other global banking alternatives are
predictive-aware, but savvier than ever As retailers become able to predict shopping patterns and preferences with increasing accuracy, the most progressive among them will use their newfound knowledge to guide customers through the consideration and purchase process. But as we’ve learned through the rise of massive ecommerce outlets like Amazon and Alibaba, for customers preference does not equal intent. Consumers around the world are increasingly empowered in the shopping process: peer reviews, transparent business practices, and comparison sites are used to help consumers make even the smallest of purchasing decisions. Handled
As culture adapts, entirely new consumer patterns and expectations will emerge. already infringing on the trusted space that only banks have occupied in the past. Younger consumers in particular are willing to trust their money and transaction security to new, relatively untested companies and services. Most notably those that ease peer-to-peer transactions and allow for completely mobile banking solutions. Over time, these services will become de-facto banks that allow consumers of all income levels to transact digitally, whether in-store or online. Embracing new payment methods will give retailers easier access to consumers who prefer to transact without fees through these services.
increasingly simplified transaction and delivery Swiping a physical credit card? Standing in line to pay? These behaviours already feel like things of the past, and we still do them every day. New services are prepared to disrupt the vestiges of transaction processes. And with that comes considerable competition from digital retailers, whether physical retailers like it or not. Today, brick-and-mortar retailers can count on both convenience and immediacy as factors that keep people walking in the front door. But as consumers come to expect instant payment and same-day (if not same-hour) delivery on the goods they purchase, price and service sensitivity become amplified.
If physical retailers are worried about ‘Showrooming’ today, the next several years will give rise to a consumer base that can transact and take delivery on a product from an e-retailer with nearly the same convenience and immediacy as if they bring it home right from the store. And while that may seem like a predictable outcome, the fact that an ecommerce transaction can happen right there in the store — albeit from a different retailer — will raise the bar for brickand-mortar and online-only retailers alike.
2017 and beyond While the technological complexity of the retailer-customer relationship increases at a steady clip, brands should consider connected customers a massive opportunity rather than a detriment. Yes, convoluted pricing structures will become a thing of the past, and all retailers will be subject to an increasing array of factors that drive customer preference. But for retailers who continue to provide a superior shopping experience – albeit an increasingly digitally-enabled one – the future is very bright.
WINNING IN THE LAST 3 FEET AF Journal
\\ Anna Chan \\ Strategist \\ London
At a time when traditional retailers are increasingly focused on their online offerings, statistics like this remind us of the continued importance of the brick-and-mortar experience. And what it so often boils down to is those final few steps before the checkout. It’s when you’re at the shelf, face-to-face with the products, overcome by all that choice. Let’s call it the ‘last three feet’. Innovating in this final stage of the in-store journey is often overlooked. But it’s an integral area for brands to communicate with customers as they’re
making a purchase decision – which can take as little as five seconds on average. Met with loud signs and brazen offers, it takes a clever combination of shelf space and digital components to stand out against competitors, provide product information, give a genuine reason to interact, or drive consideration. There’s no doubt it’s a lot to fit into five seconds, but it’s not impossible. So, for a little reassuring inspiration, here are four examples of brands doing all that (and sometimes more).
perfect pairings Digital screens are a common site at the shelves of many retailers. But all too often they’re used for the sake of using technology, emblazoned with messages that could just as easily be delivered through traditional at-the-self displays. Not in the case of Whole Foods Market. The purveyors of organic and local food have integrated digital screens
in its US stores which provide genuine utility for customers, giving a reason to interact. ‘Perfect Pairings’ does exactly as it suggests, helping less confident shoppers explore new products by letting them know which ingredients complement one another. Of course, shoppers could very easily do this on their phones. But that’s no match for the convenience of the in-store tech.
fashion likes We’re always looking for new ways to validate our purchases – whether it’s begging friends to compliment our new jumper or buying a jacket just because we’ve seen a celebrity wearing it all over the covers of gossip mags. C&A Brazil found a way to turn clothes hangers into authentic social advocates by bringing the online
conversation on its Facebook page into the physical store. Items of clothing were featured online and the number of ‘Likes’ were displayed in real-time on each hanger. We’re going back a few years here, which shows that we don’t have to be totally reliant on a shiny new bit of tech to succeed in the last three feet.
magic mirrors School has never had a reputation for being much fun, so it’s no surprise that delivering product education in the last three feet can be difficult to do in an entertaining way.
Burberry has managed it, though, in its London flagship store. Radiofrequency identification tags are woven into selected clothes and accessories, so
when shoppers indulge in a moment of vanity, the mirror transforms into a screen showing bespoke content and information about the specific product. How it was made, how it looked on the catwalk, that sort of thing. Tactics like this encourage shoppers to get the product off the shelf (or hanger) and into their hands – which has a considerable impact on purchase consideration.
shopping assistant American Apparel is not into playing favourites. They have gone to great lengths to ensure in-store shoppers have access to the same pool of knowledge available on its online store. Their ‘Shopping Assistant’ app integrates an augmented reality feature for scanning its classic product signs. Shoppers are instantly presented with additional product images, reviews, and alternate colour options.
What’s great about this one is that the brand has recognised the ‘Showrooming’ trend – where shoppers use mobiles to browse further product details while in-store. By ensuring customers can access this additional info directly from the shelves with minimal effort, they can retain them within their owned channels, rather than losing them to competitor or price comparison sites.
experiences THAT SUIT \\ James Miller \\ Lead Creative Technologist \\ London
As society becomes increasingly more connected, consumers have become more demanding. From the comfort of our own homes we are now able to access detailed information on products and buy them instantly. This not only avoids the higher prices of the high street, but also the effort of having to trek down there. No one can deny that traditional retail has some fearsome competition from online retailers. But by largely ignoring the advances of technology and failing to incorporate them into their stores, retailers are losing valuable opportunities to engage their customers with tailored experiences. The personal touch has always been important. Shoppers are more likely to favour a store where their preferences are remembered and their quirks are catered for. Retailers who want loyal customers need to build that personal relationship â€“ and technology is offering innovative new ways to do this. Over Christmas 2014, Yves Saint Lauren used Google Glass to record customers while they were given a personal makeup tutorial. The video was emailed to them, so they could replicate
the same effects when using the products back at home. Sticking with Google Glass, Virgin Atlantic members of staff in the First-Class lounge are alerted to the arrival of passengers and fed personal details through the wearable tech. They can then greet them by name, give updated details on their journey and provide local information on their destination. Consumers will never completely abandon the high street, but nor will they give up the ease and freedom they have gained from technology. Retailer strategies should endeavour to treat both online and offline as an omni-channel experience. The ideal being that there is only one continual interaction between the customer and the brand, achieving a truly personal touch through the use of technology. Vol. 3
This isn’t as complicated nor as far off in the future as it sounds. Already with iBeacon technology, online users can be identified when arriving in-store. The retailer can immediately connect to the customer’s online account, providing the floor staff with information about their shopping habits and clothing size, as
Consumers will never completely abandon the high street, but nor will they give up the ease and freedom they have gained from technology. well as their current ‘wish list’ and even unprocessed items in their online shopping basket. This information can be used to give a VIP experience to the customer – delivering tailored offers and promoting specific products that are more likely to be
attractive than those aimed at the public as a whole. At the moment, this requires the user to have an app installed on their smartphone. The tricky part comes in persuading the customer to download one in the first place.
More than anything, retailers need to aim for the â€œwow-factorâ€? when combining traditional retail with technology, hitting the sweet spot between experiences that captivate shoppers and those that provide genuine utility. Those that pioneer will be the winners, gaining custom and publicity as consumers flock to them to experience the personalised treatment triggered by the next evolution of retail technology.
But it will soon be a whole lot easier. As the ability to pay for things shifts towards smartphones, they will become one of the most successful ways of delivering an omni-channel experience. Last year, Apple introduced Apple Pay, which will provide the same experience offered by contactless bankcards. Technology is making in-store purchases possible through just a tap of a phone â€“ a trend which will extend to loyalty cards and store accounts. With these services becoming app-based, retailers will gain a point of entry for creating a personalised in-store experience.
CONTENT SELLS \\ Lise Pinnell \\ Head of Strategy \\ London
You’d never believe it walking down London’s Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon, but buying things makes us happy. According to people far smarter than I, it activates key areas of the brain, flooding it with dopamine and boosting our mood. But it’s not the sole act of purchasing causing all this. It’s the entire experience of shopping – chatting with friends, seeing and trying on new things, people-watching through the decaled window of an overcrowded coffee shop. Online retailers are slowly beginning to apply this insight to their ecommerce strategies by wrapping products in entertaining and useful pieces of content.
shoppable content ‘Content marketing’ has been the buzz-term around town for a while now, and rightly so. In an age where people have more control over their media experience than ever before, it’s never been so easy to ignore brands and messages that aren’t relevant to them. So brands need to create things that people seek out, rather than things that seek people out. Essentially, it means acting like a publisher. And for publishers, pulling products into their editorial content is no new thing. Interested in Kim Kardashian’s dress or Harry Styles’ shoes? That Mail Online article you’re too embarrassed to admit reading will let you know where you can buy the products featured in the editorial – a format employed by many publishers. But if they want to take on publishers on their own turf, brands have to improve on what publishers have offered in the past. And the biggest competitive advantage they have over publishers is experience with digital channels. To cash in on this advantage, brands need to use their expertise in these channels to create fully linked-up journeys from content to product in a non-disruptive way,
no matter the content format or the channel it lives in. For instance, in an ideal world, I could be watching a piece of cookery content, see something I like, click on it within the video player, and find an easy route through to the product page – whether that’s the ingredients involved, the cookware used, or the recipe book featured.
But the recent reduction in organic reach offered by social platforms has driven many brands back to their owned channels, meaning brands are no longer so beholden to them and their functionalities. The silver lining in all this is that brands have more control over their content since much of it no longer lives on social platforms. Specifically, they have more control over the shopping functionalities. In case it wasn’t obvious by now, creating successful shoppable content is a difficult slog and something that even the most successful social platforms have been unable to perfect. So what are the benefits that make it such a necessary tactic?
shoppable content On a purely tactical level, content drives better search engine optimisation than product pages. Search algorithms are being constantly updated to focus more on the quality and relevance of online stuff. In this sense, content is becoming the conduit for selling. To make the most out of this tactic, brands should be creating content that fits with their target audience’s lifestyle interests. Content-wrapped ecommerce then becomes a tool for attracting new business – from people searching online for shared interest areas – and a simple method for converting these leads – through seamless integration with product purchase. It’s not only the simple journey from content to product that content-based ecommerce provides which helps increase lead conversion rate. Content featuring products can help show that product ‘in action.’ It’s no secret that one of the bigger battles ecommerce faces is the lack of physical touch. Shoppers go in-store to get that ‘touch and feel’ experience, to make sure the product they’re considering is The One. And while content might be a lesser substitute for this first-hand experience, it’s certainly better than a self-contained product page – though of course content should always link through to these pages for practical product information.
Since many brands use social platforms to distribute their content, in the past we’ve been at the mercy of their functionalities, making journeys like this difficult. So far we’ve been able to market products, talk to customers, and even make R&D decisions, but rarely to actually sell. However, due to their reliance on brands and agencies investing in those platforms, the likes of Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook have begun making conscious efforts to launch shopping functionalities. Of course, each platform offers a different solution, but they all have one thing in common: they require clunky transitions from one channel to the next.
In a nutshell, this is what content provides that traditional ecommerce cannot – the emotive side of shopping. But we have to remember that content marketing isn’t intended to simply sell products. It’s intended to entertain or
educate. It’s intended to be valuable to a specific audience. It’s intended to deliver the brand’s unique point of view. If a brand sticks to these content principles, then they can create content that readers, listeners or viewers are willing to share on their social platforms. Could you imagine anyone ever sharing a product page on their Facebook timeline? If products are integrated into content, it becomes a whole lot more conceivable.
Unfortunately, before we go dancing off into the sunset with our content-based ecommerce strategies under our arms, there is a potential pitfall. It’s one I’ve briefly mentioned already. The problem is that the purpose of content is ‘selling without selling’ and the purpose of ecommerce is, well, selling. So there’s an inherent tension between the two. By combining them, brands risk ruining both strategies.
No-one likes to be interrupted.
A brand’s top priority should be to create content that the audience engage with. And it’s no surprise that truly immersing yourself in a piece of content can be difficult with pop-ups and calls-to-action disrupting the experience, like trying to read War and Peace at a fireworks display. Brands have to ensure they integrate ecommerce options into their content in a subtle way, catering for both potential customers and those who just want to enjoy the content. Few do this
Variety is the spice of life.
Not every piece of content needs to drive towards products. As with all marketing, individual content pieces need individual objectives – and this objective won’t always be sell, sell, sell. No matter the brand, no matter the product, there will always be some form of path to purchase, so not everyone will be on the brink of purchasing. For those at an earlier stage of the decision journey, having product pages rammed down their throats may in fact be a put-off.
3 Creating shoppable content With that in mind, here are three principles to guide product and content integration, without your content strategy encroaching on your ecommerce strategy, and vice versa.
better than Cinematique – the “world’s first platform to explore and shop from videos you love.” Working largely with fashion brands, the company create ‘touchable’ videos. Any products or other areas that are ‘touched’ as the content plays can be purchased, viewed or read once the credits roll at the end.
It’s all about the timing.
There’s a thin line to tread between allowing the audience to engage with a piece of content and allowing them to progress with a purchase. The challenge is to find that sweet spot somewhere between dwell time and purchase intention. This will differ from brand to brand and shopper to shopper, so it may require some analytics-based testing and learning to perfect.
DATA SH In the UK, online sales are predicted to make up 15% of total retail sales this year. If that prediction holds true, our London office Folk should prepare for an expensive 2015 – the average Brit will spend £1,174 online. But despite a growing dependency on online shopping, it remains distrusted by many because of some perceived shortcomings. Unreliable delivery services, uncooperative return policies, suspect
merchants, to name a few. A few product categories have managed to assuage these issues to make online purchasing in that category commonplace, largely through the leadership of innovative businesses changing category conventions. Think about how ASOS changed the way we bought clothes online. But which product categories still need to change perceptions? The stats below show the percentage of worldwide
internet users who’ve purchased specific products online in the past six months, which should give an indication of the answer.
\\ GlobalWebIndex \\ Q4, 2014
A HOT films
any WAYYOU want it the retail customer journey of the near future
\\ Petter Ottosson \\ Lead User Experience Architect \\ London
Earlier this year, upscale US fashion retailer Nordstrom announced Scan & Shop, a new scanning utility built into its iOS application. Its purpose was to let users scan any item in Nordstrom’s printed catalogue, adding it to the in-app basket, ready for check-out. Nice and easy. This is just one of many recent examples of a simple function with great potential – one that sets out to bridge the gap between print and digital. And with it, Nordstrom might have given us an indication about the near-future direction of user experience.
Digital has become simply an extension of the physical, and vice versa
It’s been apparent for a while that the division between what’s physical and what’s digital is dissolving. In fact, in the eyes of huge swathes of younger generations, this dissolution has already happened. For these forward-thinking visionaries, digital is simply an extension of the physical, and vice versa. At the same time, advancements in the field of technology and user experience are moving us towards a new retail experience. This is an experience that is no longer limited to specific channels, physical locations, processes or even times. The
The end goal is a flexible retail ecosystem that allows customers to identify what they like, verify that it’s right for them, and make a purchase knock-on effect is that purchase journeys become more complex and, at the same time, more flexible. With these developments in mind, we must think in new ways. By considering memory and recollection, transitions and availability, and interruptions and user expectations, we must create a seamless journey – one that is impartial to time or location.
The end goal is a completely flexible retail ecosystem that will allow customers – regardless of mind state, time, channel and speed of progress – to identify what they like, verify that it’s right for them, and make a purchase. Sounds simple right? In case not, here are some tips to get you started on the long road to seamless retail customer journeys.
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design for interruptions In many situations, users will either be unable or uninterested in completing their retail purchase journey in one go. The reasons to postpone their decision can be many, from actual interruptions to the increased flexibility and multitude of opportunities on offer through a wide range of on and offline channels,
many of which with the same or similar services. We must ensure we design tools and services that help users remember, recover from interruptions, and recall what they’ve already displayed interest in (or, in some cases, dislike for).
design for consistency consistency consistency
In this context, ‘consistency’ can mean a couple of things. (Don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me.) Firstly, it means that we need to design according to the user expectations that come with any specific platform, channel, or device. Native apps are used in certain contexts, web browsers in others. A trip in-store is made with a certain objective, tablet browsing with another. Each platform, each channel, and each device will have slightly different roles to play in the user journey.
But it also means that we must strive for visual and tonal consistency across touch-points. The in-store experience translates directly to the digital channels. When users can start a task in one channel, refine it in another, and finish it in a third, consistency is of utmost importance. And just to hammer in that point – we’re talking about consistency. This is very different to complete uniformity, which can often be an obstacle.
design for t r a n s i t i o n s Not every task a user might want to perform has to be available through every channel. That would leave you with an interface so cluttered it would be difficult to pick one call-to-action from another. Instead, an understanding of customer needs and expectations should guide a selective placing of calls-to-action. The important thing is linking these tasks and channels together in a natural way. Look at the Nordstrom example from earlier. Unable to add an actual ‘add
to basket’ function to the printed catalogue, it included it in the app and then drove readers there instead. Gap successfully bridged. As we invite users to transition from channel to channel, in and out of the digital space, we must make sure that the route to task completion is clearly signposted, making the necessary transitions as seamless as possible.
The key takeout here is that journeys can stretch over many hours, days, weeks or even months and are increasingly likely to take place across multiple digital and physical channels. This makes the new retail journey more flexible, and also more unpredictable, than ever.
So as designers of a new, seamless and time-independent user experience, we need to test our assumptions, iterate and design for the userâ€™s complete journey, wherever it may take them and whenever it does so. As customer expectations evolve and grow increasingly unreasonable, this is the right way to ensure long-term loyalty.
Thereâ€™s no doubt this presents a tough challenge. But itâ€™s also an exciting opportunity to design innovative user experiences that make those journeys smooth, simple, and successful for every customer.
Trial (virtual) Back at home, Sophie returns to the site where her ‘watch list’ is waiting. She tries on the dresses using the virtual fitting room, but they all look great and she can’t decide which to buy.
Sophie browses what’s on offer, and finds a few items she likes. As the bus ride is coming to an end, she saves them in her ‘watch list’ to take a closer look when she gets home.
on the go
On the bus home from work, Sophie receives a notification on her mobile from one of her favourite retailers, telling her that new dresses matching her preferred style are now available.
Later in the week, Sophie visits the store to see the dresses for real. Entering, she taps her phone at an NFC-enabled kiosk to announce her visit and personalise her experience.
Later that day, Sophie completes the purchase, with the personal reduction and next-day delivery automatically included.
A few weeks later, Sophie receives a personal notification on her mobile, informing her that she’s entitled to a loyalty price reduction on the dress.
Delivery The dress is delivered to the delivery locker service near Sophie’s home while she’s at work. She receives a pin-code to open the locker via her mobile and picks up her purchase on the way home.
A store assistant greets her with the dresses she’s interested in ready to try. One of them is the perfect fit, but it’s close to payday so she postpones her purchase.
MOBILEFRIENDLYis \\ Nick McWilliams \\ Strategist \\ London
Mobile devices have been a pervasive presence throughout this edition of the AF Journal. To be fair, it’s hardly a shock given their pervasive presence throughout most things these days. Whether it’s creating seamless retail journeys, offering personalised service, or reducing the time at the in-store check-out, retailers are heavily reliant on those little devices we carry around in our pockets. So although we’ve mentioned a load of strategies for integrating mobile devices into the shopping journey, it seems a worthy exercise to highlight specific tactics a retailer could implement.
Whether it takes the form of discounts, special offers, points, or prizes, retailers have been using loyalty schemes for decades. But shoppers no longer want to fill their pockets up with physical cards. Instead, they should be able to track and redeem rewards via their smartphones. Services like Collect – who offer cloudbased loyalty solutions for stores – are making this a far simpler tactic to execute than it has been in the past.
I think it’s fair to say Google and Apple hold some clout over consumer behaviours. And with both offering mobile wallet solutions, mobile payment is being adopted at pace, gradually eradicating the need for cards and cash. Good news if you’re particularly forgetful. To ensure long-term success, retailers must support multiple payment technologies – not only Apple Pay and Google Wallet, but also the lessrenowned solutions like CurrentC’s app and beacon tech.
84% of US shoppers have difficulty finding products on store shelves, and 20% have left without buying what they initially came for. Mobile tactics can be used to create frictionless shopping experiences and reduce this drop-off. How about attaching in-store shopping navigation to a shopping list app, guiding shoppers on the optimal path to get everything they need? You’d be creating a quick and easy experience for the customer and (as a bonus) it’d provide retailers with an invaluable data channel to analyse shopping behaviours.
loyalty schemes assistance
LET’S GET AF Journal
\\ James Bush \\ Creative Technology Director \\ Sydney In my role I spend a lot of time researching new technologies, platforms, interfaces and interactivity. An area I am particularly interested in is gesture-driven interfaces. Exploring different technologies and techniques to produce playful interactions. For example, using cinematic techniques including depth-of-field, focus, and exposure to allow a user to explore the qualities of a product digitally through simple gestures. I love watching ‘visions of the future’ videos produced by companies and agencies to show how every surface will be transformed into a technical marvel. Some are plain fantasy whilst others are turning science fiction into science fact.
Glass manufacturers, for instance, are exploring flexible and textured surfaces to enhance the gesture-driven experience. But despite my enthusiasm, I have to admit there has been something bothering me recently. Something niggling away under the skin. I haven’t been sure what it is but I’ve known it’s there. My unease was confirmed recently when I read Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget. In it, Larnier offers a provocative critique of how digital design is shaping society, both for better and for worse. I can see where he’s coming from. Let me give you an example. I have fallen for the iPad Mini in a big way,
and much to my surprise it’s become as much an integral part of my working day as the desktop machine. But I can’t help but feel there’s something missing. Have I convinced myself I like this new interactivity more than I actually do? To answer this question, we must first define interactivity. Rather than its visual appearance, internal working, or the signs and sounds it emits, an object’s interactivity refers to its interactive behaviour as experienced by the user. So in the case of my beloved iPad Mini – the interactivity is not its shape, size or colour. Nor its super-fast processing power. Not even its ability to play video, making the commute slightly more bearable. It is how I experience the behaviour of its user interface.
the root problem
And that’s when I realised; it’s the physical interaction I am missing. I don’t want to make mountains out of molehills. Technology is progressing both at a fantastic rate and in fascinating directions. I just miss touching, moving, pressing physical objects. I don’t want a life that revolves around interactive flat surfaces.
It might seem strange to hear that coming from someone like myself. But I still love getting my nose in a new book to smell the print, to feel the range of stocks and paper weights. Enter haptic technology to save the day. Touch interaction has become the standard for smartphones, tablets, and even desktop computers, so designing
the missing link
algorithms that can convert the visual content into believable tactile sensations has immense potential for enriching the user’s interactive experience. The question is, how can we as marketers and brands start integrating haptics into our retail displays, advertising, websites, and even products?
Take music as an example. Aside from the quality of CDs being far greater than a compressed mp3 file, consider the ritual of changing over CDs or vinyl. The slight resistance on the volume dial and the assured click of the buttons. I recently bought a Sonos sound system. I marvel at the level of control. Yet moving small digital sliders up and down within the interface just doesn’t offer the same experience. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but could this and should this be better? After all, this may be the only way you will engage with that brand. There are opportunities in the retail space, as well. Shoppers visit stores to get that tactile experience. They want to touch and feel products before they buy. Haptics could enable retailers to showcase a broad range of product ‘touch & feel’
experiences on one device without forcing half the shop floor to be dedicated to product showcasing. What if I could decide what fabric I wanted my new armchair wrapped in just by ‘feeling’ different materials on a screen? Brands need to remember that in a world gone digital mad, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the physical interaction between consumers and products – whether in or out of the retail environment – is still valuable. Those who can bring a tangible element to the experience are onto a winning strategy. I hope that, in our pursuit of the perfect interactive experience, we don’t drop all physical interaction, otherwise the world will be a dull place indeed.
Brands who can bring a tangible element to the experience are onto a winning strategy.
Sometimes it feels like there’s a new device released every month, so it’s no wonder that it can be hard keeping up with the latest technological innovations. But we’re here to support you. On the next few pages you’ll find a collection of Top Tech cards, describing and scoring the latest tech with a focus on the in-store retail environment.
March \ 2015
A focus on retail innovation & digital and catering for the new breed of demanding shoppers.