As retailers encounter increased competition from online distributors, they must work harder to create unique, engaging experiences that they are not able to deliver online. This requires creating buyer journeys that go beyond simply providing the ability to physically touch and feel the product. For retail stores to be effective, they must instead move to full, multisensory experiences.

In today’s world, retailers can’t make more customers walk through the door. For example, increasing the number of people coming into the store from 4 million to 4.4 million would be a huge, potentially impossible task. So, what can they do? In today’s competitive market, particularly with online superstores, brick-and-mortar retailers must focus more energy on improving the in-store experience, thus increasing the amount of time customers spend in the store. As a result, in-store customers buy slightly more product, because they are having a good time in the store, and they are more engaged in the process.

By making the act of visiting the store a highly enjoyable, multisensory experience, customers come back more often. A truly effective implementation can even make coming to the store become a social activity, with friends coming to the store together and shopping as an entertainment experience. This approach is often a more cost-effective way to increase sales. Studies have shown that new customer acquisition can cost five times as much as customer retention. In fact, if you can increase retention rates by only 5 percent, this can increase profits by 25 percent or more!i This is why the buyer journey is so important. The potential return on investment is large.

To create this memorable buyer journey, we can apply audio, video and lighting (AVL) technology to make shopping an entertainment experience. That way, the customers stay in the store longer and buy more products, influencing customer buying patterns and increasing dwell time. Architectural lighting both inside and outside can draw customers in and create unique experiences that set brands apart. Interactive kiosks and digital signage can display high-resolution imagery along with product information, advertising and more, providing a great opportunity to engage customers in a multisensory way. In addition, in-store audio systems can set an upbeat mood, and listening stations can actively engage customers in the experience.

Smart TVs For SaleWith an integrated automation system, all of this can be controlled and adjusted from an intuitive touch-screen interface, allowing retailers to change the look and feel quickly as promotions and marketing campaigns change. The intentional integration of audio, video and lighting can attract attention, engage customers and impart product values guests may have missed if they simply saw items physically on a shelf or online.

With a multisensory solution, customers are drawn to interact and connect with the product. The AVL product display is designed to encourage them to pick things up and try them. When they do, the integrated control system reacts and triggers changes to the AVL product display that attracts interest and provides additional information. When the customer pushes a button next to the product, a spotlight highlights it and a video of the product is shown on the screen behind it while attractive music is played. By integrating audio, video and lighting, retailers can engage the customer in a way that cannot happen online. This is important, because the customer is now staying longer and interacting with the product, and they are much more likely to purchase it after they have interacted with it. This allows them to make a more personal connection with the product, and now price is a much smaller part of the buying decision.

To ensure the AVL installation is optimized and effective, retailers can measure and monitor the customer experience, and make adjustments as needed. Many retailers set up “test stores” that allow them to try out new looks, lighting, audio and more. They track the effectiveness of those changes by comparing them to data from the point of sale (POS) systems to see if sales went up during the times when the changes occurred. Studies show than 98 percent of consumers who rated a store’s atmosphere and ambiance as “very good” rated their overall visit favorably. By comparison, less than half of those who rated the ambiance as “bad” or “very bad” gave the overall experience a favorable rating.ii Extensive, yet intuitive, control over their environment gives retailers the flexibility to be creative and purposeful to engage their customers in new and different ways, from lighting and music to signage and more, which can maximize impact and increase revenue.

Retailers can fine-tune their approach by leveraging an Internet of Things (IoT) solution, such as those available from HARMAN Connected Services. By analyzing rich data from connected sensors, a retail IoT solution can provide heat mapping and track customer movements within a store. Retailers often place a popular item (such as a sale item) in an easy-to-see location at the back of the store to encourage foot traffic. At the same time, they place other products in the customers’ path to the sale item, so they can clearly see and, ultimately, buy them. With data from an IoT solution, retailers can better predict the best location for these placements. They can then monitor the effectiveness of the approach after testing. Lighting and signage can be integrated as well, with targeted adjustments made to ensure customer attention is aimed in the right direction, so they have the experience retailers intend.

By leveraging audio, video, lighting and control, a HARMAN Connected Retail solution can help dramatically increase innovative in-store retail experiences with unique touches customers could never experience online.

Do you have experience in connected retail? Share your insights in the comments.


i Source: http://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/

ii Source: Technomic Consumer Insights, 2015

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