In the past, if you went to a brick-and-mortar store, you did so to shop, and the store responded as such. You walked in, asked questions, made a purchase, and went about your business. The market has really changed, as has the competition, and this has created a huge change in the way that brands are interacting with their consumers. It’s now not as much about the products as it is about the experience.

We’re here today with Eric Thompson, Senior Sales Executive with Bluewater, and we’re talking about how retailers and brands are threading technology throughout their in-store experience.

Thompson has worked with 8 of the 10 top retailers in his 25+ year career, so he’s filling us in on what stores are doing to compete in a “retail apocalypse” where stores are closing left and right, and 30 have filed bankruptcy.

Thompson says retail isn’t dead, but it’s certainly changing, and it’s become a hot-button issue over the last 2 years. “Obviously the online experience is something that’s big and is not going away and it’s close to about what ten percent of retail sales are, and there are still people that want to go to the store and want to shop in the stores but they want more of a frictionless experience.” He points out that people don’t want to be waiting in a checkout line, so Amazon Go was created to let people walk in and out. Sam’s Club recently unveiled a store where you can create a shopping list and it will provide a digital roadmap telling you exactly where to go to get your items. “It’s really just about being efficient and having a good experience.”

And while more digital items are being woven into the retail experience now, Thompson warns that it’s still important to know who your customer base is. “If you’re catering more toward the Gen Z or millennials, they’re digitally native so they want to have those digital attributes in the store. Maybe if it’s a store that caters to the Baby Boom generation, there are ways to weave technology into the stores without being too tech-heavy. You have to use technology kind of towards who your customers are.”

For more information on creating a digital shopping experience, including notes on self-pay, geofencing, online research, AI, and interactive touch screens, and what all of this means to the consumer, you’ll want to immerse yourself into the rest of this podcast.

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