Also at the Intel booth was the new Adidas shopping wall. Rather than simply put shoes on display, there is an interactive, high-resolution image of each shoe. Shoppers can use the touchscreen to “pull out” the shoe, rotate it any direction, get information about the shoe, learn which sizes are available in the store and even request that a store associate come over. That saves time for the shopper and for the store staff. And there is no need for a shoe on the wall for shoppers to see.
“Catch ‘Em and Keep ‘Em: Revitalizing the Store in a Cross-Channel World” was the title of a presentation at the NRF show made by a team from Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. Their premise was that there is an entirely new level of consumer shopping behavior — it’s called cross channel shopping.
Cisco learned that consumers are engaging heavily in cross-channel shopping and with a greater percentage of shopping going online. That is having a big impact on physical store retailing; e.g., fewer people in the stores, using the stores as showrooms and then price shopping and finishing the purchases at Amazon.com.
So, how can physical store retailers keep and convert consumers in their stores? By providing a more engaging experience and providing ways to shop cross-channel in the store. This lesson applies to our industry — vending, OCS and onsite foodservice.
Cisco calls it the “mashop.” They described it as a “mashing up physical retailing with the best…online content revitalizes stores by creating compelling ‘mashop’ experiences that are not possible (in) either channel alone.”
From this perspective, Cisco created and then tested five “mashop” concepts in the U.S. and U.K. This research was about bringing the virtual experience into the store.
“Catch ‘em,” according to Cisco, is about making shoppers aware and engaging them. “Keep ‘em” relates to getting shoppers to the store and then maximizing what we sell them when they’re in the store.
My recent articles in Automatic Merchandiser and presentations at NAMA have emphasized that we must do a much better job of communicating with the shoppers at the sites we serve. Our future demands that vending, onsite foodservice and OCS operators learn and master how to communicate with current and potential shoppers using social media.
Digital media allows target marketing
In the Cisco concept tests, one of the primary strategies was to deploy a “product viewer.” This was a large, interactive screen to provide product information, views of the product, directions and more. Their research identified how to target specific strategies to enhance appeal to different demographic groups. As you might expect, there were different approaches with more (or less) appeal to shoppers; men versus women or younger versus older.
Don’t forget that the first generation of these applications have already been shown at the NAMA OneShow. Have you seen the Kraft diji-touch snack vending machine, the Coca-Cola Interactive Vending Machine, the Pepsi Social Vending System, the Crane Merchandising Systems touchscreens, the VE Connect interactive touch screen from Vendors Exchange International Inc. and the VendScreen from VendScreen? If you have not seen these important innovations, go out of your way to learn more.
The interactive machines offer vending operators an important benefit that deserves to be mentioned. Whether or not the federal calorie disclosure law requires nutrition information at the point of sale, vending operators will find it in their best interest to provide nutritional information before the purchase is made. This is how to do it. The nutritional data, allergy facts and all related details are easily accessible from the interactive screen.
That does not mean that shoppers must access the information. After all, not every shopper in convenience stores or supermarkets looks at the nutritional panel when they are shopping. But they want the information to be there if they want to read it.
Interactive shopping goes mainstream
Deployments of interactive shopping experiences are multiplying at a rapid pace. Shoppers of all ages, but especially younger people, like to use these features.
Why is that? In a word, it is “gamification.” According to Wikipedia, “Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. Typically, gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used.”