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Customers are gradually returning to high-street shopping as acute worries that accompanied the height of the COVID-19 crisis subside. However, that doesn’t mean those shoppers would be satisfied with a high-street retail experience barely altered from that of 2019.

This much was in evidence from the findings of research reported on lately by Two thirds of 2,000 UK consumers polled by a tech company said they would be interested in visiting a brick-and-mortar outlet if the experience it offered was more personalised, encompassing elements like contactless payment and immersive experiences.

COVID-19-era online shopping has helped drive up customer expectations

With personalisation having been a major focus of many brands’ efforts to optimise their online customers’ experiences in recent years – particularly as the importance of ecommerce heightened during the pandemic – it seems this has led to consumers expec

ting more from brands’ high-street stores, too.

The findings of the poll come at a time when a wealth of technologies is continuing to impact on and reshape retail, both online and offline. Increasingly sophisticated digital systems are being put in place to automate processes and deliver insights that enable brands to optimise and tailor the customer experiences they provide in line with shoppers’ expectations.

One key frontier for the rise of in-store technology has been the ever-greater emphasis on experiential retail and promotional events, whereby brick-and-mortar stores are no longer seen as merely sites to purchase products from shelves.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) are attracting investment from brands that are eager to transform their physical outlets into complete engaging ‘experiences’ – not least because this gives their target audiences all the more reason to visit and shop there.

What else did customers have to say about in-store tech?

The report detailed a number of other intriguing findings about shoppers’ present relationship between brick-and-mortar retail and the technologies they felt could potentially enhance their experience.

About half of those questioned, for instance – 47% – said they would favour shopping in a high-street store, but 13% would be more encouraged to visit such stores if they had the option of using an application to order items to a changing room, or purchase items while they continue shopping.

Six in 10 (61%) respondents, meanwhile, said they would like a self-service checkout when doing in-store clothes shopping, or to be able to checkout without the need for any interaction with a cashier.

There were also interesting thoughts on interactivity among the customers questioned. A fifth (20%) of respondents said they wished to have the option of using QR codes in order to access more information about what they’re considering purchasing, while 13% expressed a wish to use interactive display screens.

Then, there was the slightly over 15% of those surveyed who said they would appreciate being able to use smart mirrors when shopping for clothing, with this technology enabling users to try on clothes virtually and even post the results to social media.

The above should certainly provide ‘food for thought’ for brands that are considering how to incorporate technologies into their outlets in ways their customers will be thankful for.

As experts in immersive event staffing here at BrandWarriors, we can play our own part in helping your brand extract the greatest potential from its use of fast-emerging retail and event technology. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to find out more about our experiential and staffing solutions.


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