Digital: A Complement to In-Store Customer Experience

Last spring, I worked on a class project in partnership with Target. The objective of the assignment was to use the new technology behind Target’s Cartwheel App to elevate the in-store shopping experience with a focus on how employees could leverage this technology to improve guest (customer) interactions.

My team’s initial struggle with the assignment centered around the employee-focused nature of the assignment. The Cartwheel App is a cost savings app designed for Target guests as the end users, not the Target team members. The first step to developing a solution that leveraged the Cartwheel App to elevate the in-store experience was to shift the focus directly to the end user: the guest. This change of scope allowed us more freedom to create a solution that was both beneficial and engaging for the Target shoppers.

Recently, this Mashable article caught my eye. For the original scope of this blog, fashion brands had always been on my radar as they have been at the forefront of incorporating user-generated content into their digital presence as well as elevating their digital presence with elements of the in-store retail experience and brand heritage. Custom and user-generated content help drive brand engagement and brand loyalty in many industries. The article mentioned above highlights Burberry’s new attitude towards the convergence of  in-store and digital experiences.

In short, Burberry strives to elevate the in-store experience by incorporating elements of it’s digital retail world into the in-store shopping experience. This philosophy stands at a stark contrast to the rest of the fashion and retail industry that continues to focus on bringing the physical store elements to their online environments.

Using new technologies to marry the two worlds of commerce, the physical and the digital, elevates the Burberry experience beyond the competition. It also creates a more engaging experience for the customer when they visit the physical retail store. Using RFID technology to create a custom content experience for a customer in the store creates an environment similar to the one they would find while shopping online. The content is tailored to the specific customer based on what items they are picking up in the store, which mirrors the experience of being served custom content based on what you search for in the online shop. This level of personalization drives engagement with the brand because you are serving customers with the types of content that they find entertaining, informative, or interesting as opposed to a generic content piece designed to please the masses.

Other retailers, like Target, should take note: E-commerce is not killing retail. When integrated correctly, a company’s digital environments serve to complement the in-store retail experience and drive customer engagement.



Your Future Projected in the Palm of Your Hand

Smartphones and tablets are devices that exist to make our daily lives easier. They connect us to the web and each other faster than ever before. They put any information we could ever want right at our fingertips. They can do everything except predict the future, right? 
The designers at Dor Tal in Israel want to change that with a new device called Future Control. This app uses algorithms to detect patterns in the interactions we have in our digital world. Once a pattern is detected and the app determines that the event is likely to occur, it suggests a number of actions that the user should take to respond to the event by displaying an interactive interface via a tiny projector onto a flat surface like a wall, table, or even the palm of your hand. It takes information from emails, calls, calendars, social networks, and other digital interactions we have on a daily basis using our Smartphones and tablets to predict the future of our jobs, friendships, and even romantic relationships. 
What makes this app different from a comparable product offered by Google is that it incorporates information from your friends as well. It uses their Twitter feeds, Facebook status updates, and other Social Networking information to help you manage your personal relationships. Miss that Tweet your friend sent about her dissatisfaction with her job? Future Control saw it and has already mapped out the closest flower shop for you to pick up a bouquet to brighten her day. Think your team won’t be ready for that big meeting this week? Future Control doesn’t think so either, so it has already suggested that you move the meeting to next Monday. This app does all the thinking and planning for you when you can’t always see what’s coming. Click here to watch a promotional video for this new gadget. 
As cool and convenient as this technology is, at what point do we take a step back and wonder why we need an app to let us know how our friends and family members are feeling when all it really takes is a phone call? With the multitude of ways in which we connect to each other on a daily basis, shouldn’t we be able to detect our friend’s moods better than a Social Media scanning algorithm? As we progress further into the digital world, more and more tools are surfacing to help us stay in touch with reality. I think I might need an app to detect the irony in this situation.

Social Media: The New Way to Pay

As I was sitting in class trying to pay attention (read: scrolling through my Twitter feed), something unusual caught my eye: Marc Jacobs Pop Up Shop Takes Tweets, Instagrams for Payment. Intrigued, I clicked the link to learn more about this unusual exchange of value. 

We talk a lot in class about social media engagement with brands, but it never occurred to me that companies would have a way to rank individual users based on engagement with the brand across platforms. This concept is called Social Currency, and according to Brian Solis, it ranks the value of a person’s social brand engagement like a credit score ranks a person’s creditworthiness. This way, brands can tell who is more important during social media interactions. 

Marc Jacobs is taking the concept of Social Currency one step further in the limited time Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop. In this Soho pop-up shop, customers exchange currency for products, just not in the way you would think. Instead of paying for your favorite perfume with dollars and cents, you can pay in “social currency.” This means that all you have to do to take home that gorgeous new Marc Jacobs necklace, delicious fragrance, or -for the especially social savvy among us- that lovely purse is Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, or otherwise socially engage the company while you shop. 

What a way to reward customers for continued loyalty and engagement! I can’t even imagine the line to get into the store at this point, seeing as Marc Jacobs has a very large and very involved social media following.

To me, this three day pop-up shop event shows that Marc Jacobs appreciates customers for more than the money they spend on products. The brand is showing customers that the time and effort they put into engaging with the brand online is more valuable than the $75 it takes to purchase Daisy perfume. I have no doubt that this event will endear the brand even more in the hearts of the loyal and socially engaged followers. I applaud Marc Jacobs for redefining the typical dollars and cents transaction to one of comparable value: social engagement with a vast network that Marc Jacobs didn’t have to seek out and pay to engage with. I am interested to see if any other brands catch on and try something like this in the future. Until then, bravo Marc Jacobs!