By Devin Partida
Canadian retailers have faced a tough year. 2020 brought the COVID-19 pandemic, with spikes and waves of the virus fluctuating. As vaccines slowly come about, it’s important for retailers to focus on their economic recoveries.
The main way to come back stronger than ever is to capitalize on the latest interactive shopping tech tools. Here are the five areas to focus on for next year:
Whether a consumer shops on an app or on the retailer’s site, virtual shopping is the next big thing. Some sites have already begun immersive, 360-degree explorations of a fully furnished room or set. Consumers can explore the furniture and accessories and get tips.
Ikea has developed a function on its app where consumers can virtually place an augmented piece of furniture in their home to see how it looks before they buy it.
Another option for virtual shopping is for consumers to look around the store from the site. No entry is necessary — they can see everything that specific Canadian retailers have in stock at the moment.
Touch screens are the best way to provide an experience for customers to interact with that will lead them to a purchase. For instance, the Ralph Lauren flagship store in New York City has touch-screen mirrors that make suggestions and recommendations for consumers based on the clothes they’re trying on. They can also see what’s in stock in the store or call for assistance.
Other displays like Hello Sense are also interactive platforms where consumers can get assistance and personalized recommendations for any of their needs. Interactive displays are clean, sleek and easy to use, leading to higher chances of a purchase.
In-store and online, assistants guide consumers in numerous ways and meet their needs. Online interaction could be something as simple as a chatbot that answers questions and recommends items to a customer based on their purchase history or preferences.
As for in-person stores, robotic assistants are becoming more common. Canadian retailers can work with robots like Pepper, the Japanese-based AI assistant, to answer consumer questions, guide them to specific products and make suggestions. Pepper is programmable, meaning retailers can program it to help in whatever way they’d like.
If not a robot, retailers can opt for standard interactive systems that show inventory and can assist consumers in finding items.
Audio and Visual Experiences
Direct interactive tools work wonders, but indirect experiences can also enhance a consumer’s shopping trip. The audio and visual experience that goes into a Canadian retail store can be a factor that draws people in.
The Hunter flagship store in Japan has a moving ceiling that mimics the sky. Other places focus on music or calming sounds. Retailers may also use window displays that feature various products and items from the store.
The architecture of a brick-and-mortar store can also draw consumers in. Greener structures are environmentally friendly and add an intriguing factor that helps stores stand out.
Social Media Sales
Social media is a powerful tool for retailers of all kinds. It’s a way to connect with consumers, no matter what forces keep stores closed. Sales through social media are now more interactive than ever.
Instagram recently introduced the shopping tab where consumers can find personalized items based on their browsing history. Here, Canadian retailers should monopolize the field and advertise their products. Then, they can draw more people in right from social media.
Since social media users are already interacting with a social platform, Instagram and other social media sites are now some of the latest, most innovative places to find sales.
A Canadian Retail Recovery
With these steps, Canadian retailers can focus on making their stores as interactive and engaging as possible. These five areas will draw consumers in and boost revenue — a critical feat for a pandemic recovery. Now is the time for retailers to get with the latest modern technology so Canada can pull ahead in the retail game.
Devin Partida is a writer and blogger, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com