Creating Memorable In-Store Experiences With Digital Technology

This episode of the RETHINK Retail Podcast was recorded on August, 31 2022. 

Digital transformation is impacting all of us in the retail industry, and brick-and-mortar is no exception. The in-store experience itself is now called to change in a way perhaps more radical and extensive than any time in modern history.

In this episode host Gabriella Bock explores how to create memorable in-store experiences through digital innovation with guests Ryan Taylor and Bobby Marhamat.

Ryan is Head of Retail Product Marketing at T-Mobile. He has over 20 years of experience in retail management at the store, district, territory, and geographic levels, implementing high-level changes to drive successful businesses within those sectors, leveraging analytics and the latest innovations to collaboratively enhance operations at hundreds of stores.

Bobby is CEO of Raydiant, an in-store customer experience management provider for brick and mortar retailers. He also has over 20 years of experience in the retail industry, having worked at the executive level with tech companies like Verizon, Revel, and Highfive. Bobby is also a contributing member of Forbes Business Development Council, and was recently recognized as a ‘Top 100 Innovation CEO of 2022’ by World Biz Magazine.

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TRANSCRIPTION

Gabriella Bock:

Hello and welcome back to another episode of the RETHINK Retail podcast. I’m your host, Gabriella Bock. And today, I’ll be speaking with my guests, Ryan Taylor and Bobby Marhamat. Ryan is the head of retail product marketing at T-Mobile. He has over 20 years of experience in retail management at the store, district, territory, and geographic levels, implementing high-level changes to drive successful businesses within those sectors, leveraging analytics and the latest innovations to collaboratively enhance operations at hundreds of stores. Bobby is the CEO of Raydiant and in-store customer experience management provider for brick-and-mortar retailers. He also has over 20 years of experience in the retail industry, having worked at the executive level with tech companies like Verizon, Revel and Highfive. Bobby is also a contributing member of Forbes Business Development Council, and was recently recognized as a Top 100 Innovation CEO of 2022 by World Business Magazine. Ryan, Bobby, welcome to the show.

Bobby Marhamat:

Absolutely. Thanks for having us.

Ryan Taylor:

Yes, thanks for having us.

Gabriella Bock:

Absolutely. It’s great to have you both here. We are going to be talking a lot today about innovation, store innovation specifically. It’s an often recited mantra that business innovation is key. Thought leaders regularly emphasize that executives need to be at the bleeding edge, that their companies need to adopt tomorrow’s tech yesterday and integrate it into their teams, create new teams for those teams, and get it all online ASAP if they want to beat their competition. This strategic mindset is, of course, well warranted as companies seek to not only keep pace with this seemingly exponential growth in tech innovations over the last many years but drive efficiencies to compensate for challenges with supply chains, labor, the ever changing and ever demanding modern consumer.

            However, the collective urge to be at the edge of the conversation sometimes leads to some false assumptions, which I think one of the biggest, and we’ve all heard it, has been the so-called death of the brick-and-mortar store. And while it’s all true, of course, that brick-and-mortar was hit hard by the pandemic, stores have sprung back quickly. We’ve seen it that the majority of consumers are still incorporating the store in some capacity in the majority of their shopping experiences. So whether that’s fully in-store or as a hybrid retail shopping experience, BOPIS, curbside, the store is still a central pillar for the majority of consumers.

            But at the same time, digital transformation is impacting all of us in the retail industry, and brick-and-mortar is no exception. The in-store experience itself is now called to change in a way that is perhaps more radical and more extensive than any time in modern history, which brings us to today’s topic. So Ryan, Bobby, building on that theme of the old coming together with the new, what would you say defines the digitized store experience for you in 2022 and into the future? Bobby, I will have you answer this one first.

Bobby Marhamat:

Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks again for having us. High level, I think the biggest theme that I think a lot of retailer saw during this timeframe, going into this year, next year and beyond, is really that convergence that’s needed across online and offline buying mechanisms, education paths, et cetera. So as an example, during the pandemic, of course, some shopping got pushed over to online. Some shopping got push over to BOPIS, if you will.

            The biggest learning was, some of the brands started to lose some of their loyal customers because they didn’t have that connection anymore. Most of the buying was being pushed to online methodology. So one of the biggest things as a theme, number one theme is, if I’m a customer, I want to be able to purchase online or in a store environment. And I want you to know, I want that same customer record if I’m buying in store or online, if you will, so that you know my interest, you know what I like, what I don’t like. So you can tell me or showcase more of the things that I do like, et cetera. So I think that’s one big theme.

            I think the second big theme is related in the sense that people now going into shopping at different brands, et cetera, want that same online experience to be also available offline. So do I walk up to, let’s say, cell phone and it automatically tells me about that cell phone? Do I go over to the jean wall, and on the jean wall, I learn about how those jeans are made, et cetera? And getting that same education that I’ll receive as if I’m online and be able to do that quickly. Depending on what I’m interested or not interested, getting that information quickly and efficiently, and then be able to either purchase either there in store or later online would be the second big theme that we’re seeing, if you will, in talking to a lot of these larger retailers.

Gabriella Bock:

Mm-hmm. Yeah. All excellent points, Bobby. You said that customers really want to be able to experience that same seamless experience that they are getting online now in a physical and in-person experience as well. Ryan, what are your thoughts on this?

Ryan Taylor:

Yeah. I think one of the big things for me is, what I’m hearing from retailers, is that the big theme is meeting the customers where they are and when they want to be met. So when you think about between 2020 and 2022, retailers really operated at a startup type speed. They rolled out a ton of services to effectively engage consumers and with a mindset of a digital first kind of world. So different innovations evolved from that, from buy online, pickup in store, kind of virtual styling, digital clienteling, even live video commerce, sitting at your home to be able to deliver that experience, so considering when there wasn’t a store that was actually available or open for them to shop at, services that incorporate things like real-time delivery, augmented and virtual reality shopping and more. And the thing for me is just around how the focus has been. How do you meet the consumer where they are in a phygital type environment?

Gabriella Bock:

Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a great point about the pandemic and how it, to your point, caused retailers and a lot of these legacy brands really start having to think in this way that is, as you said, almost this startup mentality. So really great points there. And I did want to kind of gauge your understanding of how then brands can begin to even think about starting to put some of these different innovations in place. So from an infrastructure perspective, what are some of the most important infrastructures that retailers need to be really putting in place to enable some of these in-store digital transformations that we’re speaking of?

Ryan Taylor:

So I think the number one when you talk about infrastructure, I think about the internal cross-functional working teams. It goes quickly to start to understand, is that you have moved from historically where you’ve just had retail organizations, a customer service function or CX function. Now you have CX and EX, and they’re working together. They’re figuring out the infrastructure that they need to be able structure, how they connect in. Because the employee experience, you have to be able to ensure that the employee experience, that you’re delivering the tools and resources, and they feel good about the task and things that you’re giving them to be able to do their daily job, to meet the consumers experience, to deliver on what your brand’s service expectations are.

            I mean, a couple examples I can give is, I think about this and I think this may answer another question, but think about with the huge wage war that’s went on specifically in retail today, which has been a wage war that’s been going on for quite some time, how do you enable your employees to deliver great experiences? What type of tools and resources are you giving them to enable great experiences that also help enhance the customer’s experience too?

Bobby Marhamat:

I think what you’re saying is super important, I think especially, I want to call it, coming out of COVID, if you will. There’s a lot of focus right now on EX experience, which helps enable the CX experience. And with that, infrastructure wise, I think at the core, first, brands have to figure out who is my customer, what’s my ICP, what my customer profile look like. And based on that profile then, what do I had to do on the employee side to keep these employees engaged, et cetera? And how that influences the customer experience? And then from that, what are the infrastructure tools, product services that I need? All the way from connectivity to the screens, to the software that I need to et cetera, et cetera. But I think it all starts at the core with the customer initially. And then building on that, you build the infrastructure.

Gabriella Bock:

Yeah, you both made some solid points about blending EX and CX and how an enabled employee is going to be enabled to deliver that exceptional customer experience. Managers and store leaders and all the way up to corporate leadership, have to be investing in their employees and providing them with the tools in order to create those exceptional customer experiences in store. So I wanted to lean into that a little more and see if either of you had any examples of some retailers who are doing a great job at blending EX and CX?

Bobby Marhamat:

Yeah. I mean, I have an example I can share here. I won’t call out the actual brand, but it is a large juice brand, smoothie brand, if you will. This brand was really focused initially pre-pandemic on really that CX experience. What they realized of course is, during the pandemic and beyond, if you will, there’s definitely a change in how employees think about the brands they work for in these retail and restaurant locations. So with that large portion, what they had to start to think about is, how do I build on that EX experience? So this particular, I’ll call it smoothie retailer, if you will, has built really an EX experience that helps tell their employees about the new juices coming out, helps talk about really the new framework for how they’re thinking about the next three months from a business standpoint, new menu items, et cetera. And really, it’s been proven to create more of that loyalty with the brand, if you will.

            On the other side, on the CX side, then being able to use a lot of that, that data that’s being built on the EX side to be able to enable customers to learn more. So whether it’s a customer walking up and learning, why did they name this particular juice what they did? What goes into it? What is the nutrition? Why is the nutrition important, et cetera? A lot of what they’re enabling on the EX side is also helping the CX side. So I think it’s really circular. Like Ryan also stated, it all works together, if you will. I see more and more brands needing to do this, to be able to really both make sure that employees are super engaged but also educate their customers. Because customers, if they have that tool in their hand where they can look things up, it’s been proven that they’ll purchase more from you if you can give them that information right off the bat. So I think that’s going to be super important to-

Bobby Marhamat:

…From you. If you can give them that information right off the bat. So, I think that’s going to be super important that you work hand in hand with each other.

Gabriella Bock:

Absolutely. And what would you, then, say are some of the tools that retailers need to be equipping them with in order for them to deliver these experiences?

Bobby Marhamat:

In simplicity terms, really what it is is you want to make simple to deploy. You want to make this something that’s easy, but at the same time is comprehensive. And that’s always hard to do.

            So, I would look for a software that actually automates a lot of the experience. Not to plug what we do, but just at a very high level, you want software that’s employee experience driven for brick and mortar specifically.

            So, you can help really push, A, that communication. So, think about it as Facebook-like or Instagram-like, if you will, communication to whoever’s on the front line getting this information. And then, from that, they’re able to gauge back with that information. So, that’s going to be super important. And what we think is important, from a Radiant standpoint, is all this is centered around the point of sale. So, it’s very low maintenance, highly automated, and helps create that experience very easily and seamlessly, which then helps those employees really focus on the customer experience as customers walk in the door. And so, that’s, at a very high level, how we think about the world.

Ryan Taylor:

So, I definitely say one of the things that we’re seeing in retail today in some use cases that are out there is just around when you talk about tools and resources, I think about some of what the offerings that Bobby and the Raydiant teams are having with how you leverage digital signage to drive employee engagement. Also, to be an interactive sales associate for your store teams, right?

Ryan Taylor:

We are seeing a lot of interest from retailers and brands today, just talking about the opportunity, and that’s just around the lack of being able to attract candidates and actually retain employees. And so how are you officially being able to optimize your labor and how are you leveraging data to be able to do so. So there’s solutions out there that can provide heat mapping that can show you what that consumers are tracking your stores. You can leverage those to validate marketing incisions. You can leverage those to actually schedule employees in certain areas based off of trends that consumers are actually in those areas, during certain times of the day, during certain times of the week, during certain times of the month, and so forth. And then how does that particular solution interact with the workforce management solution that the store has, so they can leverage both of those things together and ultimately drive a better customer experience.

But I also think about, too, where I’ve seen some other use cases where BYOD, bring your own device, or actually providing a mobile device for your employees, that helps your employees leverage technologies to help them be more efficient in the daily task that they’re doing, which in turn actually helps them feel more satisfied about their job because you’re removing some friction. It also helps, from a compliance standpoint, that where they, actually, they can better serve their customers, but you’re educating through the mobile phone.

            They’re going to actually have it at their fingertips to be able to drive product knowledge to confirm consumers’ buying decisions. They’re actually able to have access to, with of device, to the endless aisle that were not only, as we’ve seen over the last couple years, the amount of skews that retailers are carrying in our stores are starting to slim down because of you now can get things to consumers next day or two days or three days and so forth. And so, now, you have access to combine an in-store transaction with an online transaction and complete the customer’s buying purchase right there with them sitting at a mobile device, which is a very intimate interaction that’s happened with a consumer, also too.

            And so, I think more on the lines when it’s all a win-win for the consumer, and then, you also think about from an empowered standpoint. It’s on demand training, inventory management, it’s a multi device type use where you’re removing a lot of friction points around the employees’ experience. We’re even seeing instances that where that device is actually becoming the communication vice within the entire store for all the employees to be able to communicate back and forth for each other.

            So again, it removes the way you having to have a wired headset or you have a wireless headset on your person, and then, also having a device, a mobile POS device, which actually gives you access to the endless aisle and education so forth. So, you’re getting it down to one device.

Gabriella Bock:

Yeah, lots of great points. You touched upon employees having their own devices. We’re seeing this more and more with employees all being given an iPhone to use in store. And then, as you said, some are bringing their own devices, which that’s a lot of devices. Depending on the store, it could be dozens of employees at any given one time. And then, as well as customers who may using the app in store while shopping. So, I did want to know, just based off of that many devices all needing to be connected at one time. Ryan, I did want to pick your brain on the importance of network connectivity in this regard.

Ryan Taylor:

Yes, it’s really important. I grew up in retail. And I remember the days that where couldn’t stand in certain corners of the store with a device and have network connection to be able to help a consumer. You had, “Oh, let me go to the front of the door and get closer to the window.” Or, “Let me go to the middle of the store,” and so forth. And so, that was before the age of the really increased usage of IOT devices to help enable and enhance the customer’s experience, to drive operational efficiencies, to provide safety and health things. And so, you’ve just seen a significant increase IOT, which an IOT device is specifically in retail that align to whatever the retailers’ service approach is going to be. And so, with that, you look at a serious strain on the network for a store and the retailers and what they’re trying to provide. From mobile POS to a POS station to self checkout, kiosks, to digital signage, to shelf tags, to smart video analytics, all of these things are things that are becoming an increased use of IOT.

            And then, you look at do you currently have the existing network connectivity infrastructure in store to be able to add that on. And for majority of retailers, they don’t. And, typically, to add that on and invest it into that additional infrastructure for additional connectivity, it’s at a premium cost. And so, you choose to not add these devices and increase in IOT devices. And so, what I think 5G and increase in some of the customized options that you can have around network connectivity is doing for retail is that it’s helping you to be able to add failover protection, which ensures critical business applications remain line if things go down.

            We’re seeing retailers move towards 5G being a primary connection for point of sale systems, for digital signage, and all of the devices. And guess what? When you look at 5G and some of the connectivity options, you look at business internet, which in reality is fixed wireless, which has been around for a while. But it’s gotten much better because 5G has gotten better. And so, the in building coverage now that you can get from Business Internet is a lot more cost-effective way and speedy way to be able to add on connectivity and security and take bandwidth off of the current network you have in your store. So, as retail continues to grow and IOT continues to grow and how you use IOT to meet the level of the different services, network connectivity and the different customizable options to get there is going to be extremely important. And that’s where 5G plays a significant part.

Gabriella Bock:

And Bobby, from your end, so you work with different retailers helping them create a more engaging in store customer experience through digital signage and digital technology. So, is this something that you’re also seeing with your clients, needing a more secure and reliable network with some of the projects that you’re working with them on?

Bobby Marhamat:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, one of the things Ryan brought up is with these experiences and the need for adding these experiences in location, of course, there’s a need for bandwidth. There’s a need for network connectivity. And a lot of brands are taking that experience to the next level. They’re reinforcing some of the stuff that they’re selling in location with maybe TikTok videos around how those products do in real life and real scenarios, et cetera. And so, with all the things that retailers are using from an engagement perspective, connectivity comes up often. And like Ryan said, it’s really one of those ROI discussions around, “What do I want to do here? What’s the cost going to be? How do I upgrade my network, et cetera?” Because retailers know that they have to do this, but it’s to the extent of what they want to be able to spend from a connectivity standpoint to be able to update the infrastructure.

            I think one of the things that we always talk through with retailers, especially, is part of what’s happening, you talk about, again, brick and mortar is dead, et cetera, et cetera. But what’s really happening is the brands that are not really investing in these products and investing in infrastructure and the future of digitizing their stores, that could have taken another five to seven years to get there. But the pandemic accelerated it. And so, now is a time where a lot of these retailers really need to really invest and be able to make sure that they’re at the forefront of what the consumers expect so they build more brand loyalty with these customers.

Gabriella Bock:

Absolutely. And I think that’s a great segue into our next question. So, while brick and mortar has pretty quickly sprung back from lockdowns and quarantines, research has demonstrated that consumer behavior has changed for the long term. For example, according to a report by McKinsey there was a 15 to 30% growth in consumers who purchased online for most categories. At the same time, consumer brand switching is at an unprecedentedly high rate of 75% of consumers reporting having tried a new shopping behavior in 2020. So, leading from that, then, what are some ways that digital store front can address these new behaviors, or even really incorporate them into their modeling and sales plans?

Bobby Marhamat:

Absolutely. At a high level, what we saw during the pandemic, of course, there’s a lot of, I’ll call it, commoditization of products and shopping behaviors, et cetera. It’s interesting. Forster just pushed out a report saying of the percentage of growth that went over to online, 8% of that is back to being in store, if you will. And the major reason for that is because of the fact that these brands, your point, they’re in a place where, if they’re not able to actually be able to talk about the different products that they have, build that loyalty with that customer to be able to really engage with that customer, if you will. And it’s very hard to do that online.

Bobby Marhamat:

… To be able to really engage with that customer if you will. And it’s very hard to do that online. Consumers are going to be in a place where they’re going to kind of jump to different brands, if you will, and try different things, et cetera. So the building that brand loyalty has become way more important today than it ever has been. And how do you do that? You do that with, of course, building these kind of more, in some cases, immersive experiences, but it depends on, again, who your customer is and how you want to engage with them.

            It’s interesting, we’re talking to a bunch of direct-to-consumer brands nowadays that are also building brick and mortar experiences, kind of smaller experiences in different areas because they’ve realized that the direct-to-consumer model can only go so far. You need to be able to take that a step forward and a step beyond what you’ve done. In order to do that, you have to see these people. You have to interact with them. You have to them come into your locations and so that you can get them to a place where they understand what your brand’s all about. They understand why your brand is different, why you’re always going to take care of the customer, et cetera. And so I think a large portion of that is what the realization of what most of the brands are that we’re talking to today.

Ryan Taylor:

Bobby touched on this a little bit, but I think I go back to, for me, when I think about the importance of loyalty. And how are you leveraging, loyalty plays such an important part into driving personalization to consumers, which is what we all, as consumers, this is what we all want today. The peanut butter spread marketing approach, or addressing approach towards consumers, that’s gone. Consumers like for you to know a little bit more about them and their needs and be really targeted about the marketing efforts and how you’re talking to them specifically in store or online or so forth. And so for me, I think that’s probably the most, one of the things that’s really, really important from the store front.

            And so what tools and resources are you providing that actually align to that? And so digital signage, I think, is the interactive type sales associate is one that plays into that. And how are you leveraging digital signage to… It’s not passive as much anymore. It’s producing positive reactions and adding additional value for customers. Content personalization is happening. Interactivity, it’s becoming an essential part of, can I say the multi-channel customer journey that really connects the figital and digital type experience. And you can do that in a lot of different ways. So that would be some things I would throw out there.

Gabriella Bock:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And I would say that some of the brands that really are getting that personalization and they really are using personalization to drive loyalty, are those D2C and those DNVBs that Bobby was speaking on earlier. And we’re even seeing them, as you mentioned, Bobby, going from being, just say, traditional online retailer to now taking a more omnichannel showrooming approach where they are creating these kind of very brand forward retail experience, brick and mortar retail experiences in cities really across the world now where people can go and they can interact with the brand, they can interact with the products. So really great points there. And you also mentioned immersive experiences, which I wanted to kind of get your guys’ take on this a little bit. So I know we’ve all been talking about the metaverse and virtual reality and augmented reality. And we are, I would say, seeing more VR even being incorporated in the store. But where do you see AR and VR fitting into these digital store fronts?

Ryan Taylor:

I can kick it off. I think one of the things I thought is as sales forecasts kind of start to soar exponentially, augmented reality experiences for shoppers play a big part into that and so to help towards that. So when you think about virtual try-on specifically in retail, you think about personalized or visioning of products from clothing to shoes to makeup to maybe even the furniture is where you can actually place… If I can see what this shoe maybe looks like on my foot, if I can see what this dress looks like on me, if I can see what this couch looks like in my house, that kind of social commerce targeting tech savvy consumer demographics is where kind of you see the AR adoption really happening. And it’s really helping to boost sales. You think about we’re seeing that retailers are seeing it’s minimizing returns. You’re seeing increase in customer engagement.

            You’re also collecting data on customer preferences at the same time, too. I think we all know the data is the new oil. You’re kind of delivering on a contactless experience. And you’re also, you think about it, too, you’re reducing staffing expenses too, because you’re actually doing some things, leveraging device and a consumer’s possibly owned device to be able to guide them through their experience. But quite frankly, there’s a percentage of consumers out there who actually like that because their device is how they operate in their daily life with doing a lot of their tasks and things they need to do. And then the last part of it, you’re just building customer loyalty through the AR process, AR/VR process. But that would be my take on AR/VR kind of fit into the digital storefront.

Bobby Marhamat:

Yeah and I think brands, going back to really knowing their customers, a lot of brands, the brands that actually took this seriously, is as we went into the pandemic and they started to sell more online or they started to put up online storefronts if they didn’t have one before. One of the big learnings that they got out of this was data. What do my customers like? What’s complimenting the different products that they want to buy, et cetera? And using that data to be able to then push more to that customer, to personalize that experience, like Ryan said, or to be able to bring on more of those types of products and either in their store locations or online storefronts to be able to put them in front of customers. And so one of the big learnings with building these more immersive experiences is how do I take these products that maybe are larger, maybe don’t fit into a location and how do I bring more of them to life within a store location?

            Furniture’s one example. There’s examples of cars, especially now with supply chain issues as people try to conceptualize, what’s a car? How do I actually open the door, get into it. If I can do all that stuff, kind of using AR/VR to be able to get that immersive experience. And with that, a lot of these retailers that have either larger products or the products that are a little harder to come by nowadays, or they want to test new colors and et cetera, they’re using these immersive experiences to do just that. And we’re seeing more and more that come to life, if you will, as people try to… I always say it in very simple terms, bring that really online, those online capabilities to the store location, if you will. And I think we’re going to see more and more of that as we grow, as these retailers grow and as time goes on. And it’s one of those things that I think is going to be embedded and integrated into a lot of locations again in the near future.

Gabriella Bock:

Yeah, absolutely. One, you mentioned cars. And one that really sticks out in my mind is a brand that’s been kind of doing this even before the pandemic, which is Audi. They did some really, really cool stuff, creating these kind of virtual and AR experiences within some of their showrooms in Europe, where you could go in and you could essentially design your dream car there and it would project it in AR right in front of you life size. And you could kind of turn it and see all the features and the colors. And it was just very visually captivating and stunning.

            And so I definitely agree with you that I think we’ll be seeing more players kind of bringing the AR into the store. To Ryan’s point, we’re definitely seeing a lot of that on the eCommerce side. I think Ulta and Wayfair and Target, there’s some pretty big players in really kind of incorporating AR into their digital experiences, making it that much easier for customers to try on products or view a potential item in their home, how it would look, what the sizing’s like, see what something would even look like on their body.

            So very cool stuff. And I guess taking it back to the store, another major way that consumers are likely to picture these stores of tomorrow is via increasingly complex digital signage. And this could be from self-service kiosks to interactive virtual agents, to AI-powered and responsive signage. Bobby, as our digital signage expert, what are some of the opportunities that you’re seeing for things like smart product displays? And really, what do you think the near term future looks like in terms of capabilities for digital signage?

Bobby Marhamat:

I think one of the big things that we’re, again, seeing in regards to a point that Ryan kind of made earlier is personalizing the experience as much as you can. Of course you want to be non-intrusive, you want to be non-creepy, all that good stuff. But how do you do this in a way that’s actually beneficial to the consumer or the person walking into the location? So from simple terms all the way from what’s going to capture me to walk into a store location? Maybe I don’t know about this brand. How can I be engaged to be able to walk in? Well, a lot of brands are thinking about does that look like a display that takes over our windows and kind of focuses the new products that we have? Is it something that’s kind of audio and video related that actually captures people as they’re walking by, creating that experience even before you walk in? And then as you walk in, what’s that customer journey look like within the store location?

            We are working with a major kind of jean retailer. And so they’re doing just that at the storefront, they’re engaging with really large lifestyle videos that are taking over basically all of their initial storefront. And then as you walk in, you see some educational type kiosk, if you will, around how this product was built, or let me scan a QR code and push data to my phone to be able to take this back with me, show my significant other, whatever the case may be. All the way to going back to the jean wall, where if you don’t have my size available, I can either transact in store, or I can, again, scan something on my phone, take it back, transact on online or on my phone, et cetera. So there’s a lot of that ability to be able to create that, again, convergence of online, offline, I think is going to be huge. And how do you do it with creating these journeys within the store location? And that’s where I think we’re going to see, again, the best retailers out there are thinking about this and they’re building those experiences.

            The other part is I’ll walk into a store location. I may not want to talk to someone, but I may want to, again, get more information or even possibly kind of transact. And so we’re going to see more kiosks come into play. We’re going to see a lot more of these personalized experiences, again, not to be intrusive, but from a standpoint, if I walk in and it detects that I’m maybe a male that’s X age to this age, it showcases products for me that maybe I’m interested in, et cetera. And so there’s a lot of these things that I think we’re going to see come into play because consumers are more now they’re starting to think, okay, if it’s good for me and I can actually get something out of this, we’re getting tracked on cookies and et cetera online. Why don’t I actually use this data to be able to get better personalized information about this brand or more products I want to buy, et cetera?

Ryan Taylor:

Only thing I would add is that Bobby said it well, I was reading an article last week and one of the things they were just talking about the value drivers of dynamic interactive digital signage. And one of the quotes was 63% of consumers say that digital signage is an attention grabber. And so if I am a retail brand and I’m reading quotes and getting informations and value driver information like this, I think about is digital signage, does it make sense for the customer experience journey that I’m trying to deliver? And how can I figure out how to incorporate that? A couple other things that was thrown out for the value drivers, digital signage has a 47% effectiveness on brand awareness. So how can you drive more effective brand awareness? And then the last part was digital displays can increase purchase amounts.

Ryan Taylor:

Awareness, and then the last part was, digital displays can increase purchase amounts by more than 29%. So you put all three of those value drivers together, the return on investment is definitely there for you, for immediate return on investment long-term value, to drive, maybe increase frequency of visits and so forth. And then the 62% just goes to show is like, “Wow, if I can get digital signage somewhere and put it strategically in the right places in my store, or how can it actually help drive or help enhance or drive a better experience or drive more traffic to those specific areas that I know are the items or the products or the services that’s really kind of the foundational portions of my business?”

Gabriella Bock:

Yeah, absolutely all really great points all around. I think Bobby said it really well, really using digital signage to create the convergence of the online and offline experience. And also to your point Ryan, you cited an impressive stat that 63% of consumers say that digital signage is an attention grabber, which can lead to an almost 30% increase, a dollar increase of the purchase amount. So not only is it capturing their interest, it’s also leading to almost 1/3 actually going and making a new purchase that maybe they weren’t originally set out to make. So really great insights all around.

            Well, Ryan, Bobby, we are coming up on time here. This has been a great conversation. I’ve certainly learned a lot. And in closing, I wanted to get your guys’ take what you think we’ll be seeing in the near future, what the near future store experience is going to look like, now that we’re seeing more brands, more retailers, really incorporating new digital technology in the store and also really honing in on this kind of innovative spirit that’s really been striking the retail industry right now. What are your thoughts on that? Bobby I’ll have you answer first.

Bobby Marhamat:

Yeah, I think it’s a lot of the things that we talked about today, all the way from, well again, at the core, I stress this because not all solutions are created equal for retailers. I think you need to know your customer, what they’re into, how they engage with your brand at the core. And then from there, the experiences that you build are going to be super important. Especially again, given we went through a pandemic and came out of it or whatever I want to call came out of it, in the sense of how people are engaging with brands and how they expect brands to engage back with them. All the way from, is it visual technologies that you put in there to be able to educate and inform? Are there ways that you can build in personalization in a non intrusive way? Because you’re using kind of public screens if you will, to be able to engage. But in a non intrusive way, be able to engage with those folks, to do I put in self-service kiosks in my location or not? To what’s some music that’s playing in here and how does that actually accentuate really the experience that people are feeling?

            So I think at the core, it’s all about who your customer is. And then from there, I think you invest, it’s critical that you invest in the right kind of experience to be able to keep your customers really loyal to your brand and create that loyalty and extend on that and be able to have customers for life if you will.

Ryan Taylor:

Yeah, I’ll piggyback a little bit on what Bobby so eloquently said, is that I think to me it’s all about experiences, and it’s just not as a brand is, great product and the benefits that product meets and exceeds for the consumer, is just not enough, value is just not enough anymore. Consumers are, when you look at the future retail, it’s also connected to, what we see today is your purpose. And so you play a part into that, but then it really goes into what are you driving in your service experience that aligns with your brand, that’s actually getting the consumer excited about getting off their couch or getting out of their car to be able to shop in your store, and then how are you keeping them excited whether or not it’s in store or it’s online. And so that could come in a lot of different ways.

            And we talked a little bit about AR VR, Bobby Sheridan talked a little bit about digital science, self service kiosk, and so forth, but you really need to figure out what fits the best with the journey and the experience you’re trying to deliver with your brand, because that’s what it’s about, and how do you get them excited about continuing to be about your brand and spend their wallet share with you. Because I mean, statistics have shown is, brand loyalty is going down. Consumers are actually buying multiple brands these days, and so how do you continue to be able to drive those experiences to get them excited? And I always say, when I was in retail leading up to stores, is every interaction with the consumers, you got to make it a memorable moment, were you memorable? And so I think it’s the same thing for every retailer, how can every interaction be a memorable moment, regardless of whether it’s in store, or it’s actually on their phone or it’s at their laptop or so forth. How is every interaction memorable to that consumer to drive long term value for you and your brand?

Bobby Marhamat:

That was said perfectly Ryan, I mean the word memorable is I think understated in a lot of these experiences that people are trying to build. So I think that’s definitely key.

Gabriella Bock:

Yeah absolutely, excellent points all around. As you mentioned Ryan, value is just not enough anymore. Brands really need to be creating these memorable and exciting experiences which is definitely no easy task, but it certainly is an exciting time to be a retailer. It’s an exciting time, I think, to be a customer, and I’m personally looking forward to seeing more of these memorable retail experiences come to life. So Bobby, Ryan, thank you both for joining the show today, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Bobby Marhamat:

Absolutely, thanks for having us, that was great.

Ryan Taylor:

Absolutely, thank you, yeah it was awesome.

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