Early on a few merchants saw the challenge of the e-commerce platform.
Shoppers began appreciating the experience of on-online shopping as it offered convenience and simplicity. Furthermore, as in Amazon, they offered a platform with curated product content, reviews, and ratings for an experience to further guide self-directed shoppers.
As more shoppers found the online experience met their needs more conveniently and increased their expectations, fewer shoppers went to brick & mortar stores and many have closed. As a result, some merchants played catch-up with shoppers to meet the online experience by offering their own e-commerce platform in lieu of improving the in-store shopper experience
Some merchants failed as they lacked vision and the skill-set to avail themselves of reliable technology with protocols to compete in-store with an online store for a comparable customer experience. It later became obvious the customer experience had to improve and was Key to ameliorate the disruptive change brought on by e-commerce.
As a result, merchant leadership’s response to this disruptive change began to include the vision and skillset of in-house technology experts. Engineers had as much or more influence over sales departments and how they could use technology in the aisle to improve the customer experience. Creative sales management teams were limited to the IT department’s priorities and schedules to drive ideas meant to provide a promising sales forecast. Consequently, shopper-centric technologies to improve the customer experience in-store were sidelined as merchants invested in e-commerce. There wasn’t a grand attempt to “move the needle for a better Shopper Experience to compete with an e-commerce platform offering simplicity and convenience”. It makes one ask, “How important is the Customer to your business.”
Touchrate in 2009 was the first starter using touchscreens for self-service to redefine the shopper’s experience with a digital path to purchase and was supported by a major merchant and its brands. The touchscreen experience offered a digital path to purchase providing a logical approach for shoppers by filtering the clutter of SKUs shoppers confront in making a decision in the aisle.
Various online platforms allow shoppers to be self-directed with a simple, fast, and convenient way to touch and intuitively select to learn from curated product content and guidance for conversion.
Merchants need to innovate within the context of the in-store customer experience. Most leaders believed that smartphones would displace the touchscreen as a platform in-store to buy their products.
Touchscreen engagement is high. Our recent A/B testing between touchscreen shopper engagement with our path to purchase is getting substantially more engagement in-aisle than our QR code platform with the same path to purchase accessed via smartphones. The test included thousands of stores with a QR code to be accessed by smartphone with the same digital path to purchase as is offered on touchscreens in just 4% of total stores and they received 60% higher engagement than ALL the stores.
The status quo is no longer an option. Brands and merchants are sharing in-store touchscreen technology for a self-directed experience to increase sales, capture data, balance inventories, develop products, and reduce returned merchandise as shoppers are better able to decide on the correct product choice. This Shopper Self-Service in-aisle Experience is an answer to meeting the expectations of the consumer in a DIY culture and is analogous to self-checkout.
The experience begins with a touch.