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.