5 App Features That Can Truly Enhance the In-Store Experience

Mobile app revenues have skyrocketed over the last few years: total spending in the App Store was just shy of $30 billion in 2016. This growth has challenged brick and mortar stores to provide better in-store experiences that compel customers to visit their physical locations. Bridging the digital and physical allows companies to provide a consistently personalized experience for each and every customer who walks through their doors. Connected devices help to reduce customer pain points and boost the overall experience.

Here are 5 key app features that will enhance those in-store experiences:

  • Augmented Reality (AR): If you have been reading our posts, you will know that we’ve covered AR more than a few times in 2016. AR is arguably the #1 app experience feature adapted for retail in 2016. When customers can see how a clothing item will look on them without trying it on, the number of products they consider scales up. And even beyond fashion, AR also helps users to pick home accessories on the fly. If the choice of product is unavailable in the store — but can be checked out using AR or VR — data can be tracked and products can be shipped. The data helps stores manage their inventory better, too.
  • Virtual Reality (VR): The magnitude of customer engagement is very high in VR. Since the environment itself changes and provides a visual stimulus, you’ve procured the customer’s entire attention. But unlike AR where all smartphones support that sort of feature, VR needs device assistance. It could be headgear or other display devices like a virtual mirror which engages with customers. Even at home, a customer can explore the physical store with VR headgear. There are 2 senses engaged here: sight and sound. With gravity also assisting the experience, a customer can feel like they are walking around the aisle virtually. Adding products into a cart with gestures also serve to keep the customers engaged.
  • Personal Assistance: Imagine staff greeting a customer by name as they walk by. Customer profiling can be so detailed that every product the customer showed interest in or purchased can be used to help the staff best assist them. From color suggestions to pointing customers to the right sizes, this personalized attention will help each customer make better decisions faster. So it’s not just the data for the staff, but for the customer as well. The apps can also direct visitors to aisles where there are relevant products.
  • Cashless Payments: This is a necessity. Android Pay and Apple Pay are the most common cashless payment methods but require a hardware investment. QR code Unique IDs are the easiest and cheapest alternatives for cashless payments. Carrying those bulky wallets and running for change will be challenges of the past with cashless payments. If customers can just walk out without waiting in those long lengthy queues, it’s going to be much easier during Black Friday!
  • Real-Time Product Reviews: When customers are looking to buy a product they don’t have adequate knowledge about, reviews from other buyers will help them decide faster. And when they have the product right in front of them, it’s more meaningful than online reviews where you rely on images and videos. Real-time feedback along with social integration increases the authenticity of each review. The store can also display the number of buyers in a defined duration, giving customers better clarity.

It’s a combination of investment in technologies like RFID, digital signage, data integration, in-location experiences and creating the logic for that personalized experience for each customer. Data integration and writing logic for a personal experience is no small task. It is not a one time thing; it has to be a constant investment which will evolve into an intelligent layer that will increasingly assist in inventory management and customer profiling over time.

About the author:

Krishnan Menon is a Product Specialist at July Rapid, an app studio that transforms digital experiences for ecommerce companies and retail companies to conceptualize and build custom native iOS and Android applications.