Who says digital and physical retail must be diametrically opposed? Those who do are in for a stunning surprise. The two have met … and the meeting apparently is good, and destined to get better.
Driven by an urgent need to be relevant and competitive, brick and mortar retailers have responded to the digital challenge by importing and adopting the tried-and-true cyberspace ways. At least, some of those ways. In the process, stores have extracted the best of cyberspace marketing and grafted the take onto their physical establishments.
The net result is a fascinating hybrid of two distinct universes. If all goes as planned, the hybrid will generate completely new and absorbing experience for the brick and mortar shopper. Exactly what is needed to draw customers away from their screens and back through the big doors.
The digital-physical integration already is well under way. Consider, for instance, the proliferation of interactive displays and signs. Often, these displays present promotional content packed with both entertainment and informational value — all in the support of a particular brand. Adding to the retail excitement are intriguing touchscreens welcoming participation from curious shoppers.
But the entertainment extravaganza is not limited to shelves and racks. In a move designed to invigorate the purchase experience, digital marketers have begun displaying video content in checkout areas. According to research, the added show creates the perception of shorter waits. This technique is, of course, borrowed from places like Disneyland, which often supplies entertaining diversions (characters, musicians, etc.) to high-wait zones.
Another promising technology finding its way into physical stores is virtual reality (VR). The digital imagery that forms the VR 3-D experience will be revealed in catchy pop-up displays. But the ever-reliable smartphone won’t be completely abandoned. On the horizon are phone apps designed to enhance the in-store, VR images. Stay tuned for the future of brick and mortar marketing.
If you have any questions or comments about the integration of physical and digital retail, or about any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.