Today, customers no longer buy just products, but also, and especially, experiences. Digital plays an important role in this new context, helping to enrich the purchase location and putting it at the heart of the customer experience.
The Internet allows us to buy anything with just one click, or just about. The customer who goes to a store wants to have an ‘experience’. “We don’t just buy an anti-wrinkle cream, we buy the experience of looking younger for longer. We don’t look just for trainers but shoes that let us live our passion for running,” explains Sarah Gaïsset, Head of Digital & Store at Altavia. “It’s the quality and the richness of the experience we have at the purchase location that will make the difference. Some brands have understood this, others are in the process of doing so and have begun a digital transformation as well as a transformation of their processes, with the goal of optimising and improving the flow of the customer’s journey.”
“The digitalisation of a point of purchase is successful when it manages to combine the strengths of the Internet and the real world.”
An experience at a point of purchase is exemplified by a particular ambience – which embodies the values and the history of the brand – driven by the products and especially by the relationships forged. “Point of sale digitalisation best practices allow us to further these relationships,” explains Sarah. “The tools made available facilitate and optimise conversations between brand representatives and customers. The digitalisation of a point of purchase is successful when it manages to combine the strengths of the Internet and the real world, when the power and fluidity of digital have been put to the service of customer relations.”
Proof and Inspiring Examples
—Reception, a point of contact of inestimable importance, has been completely overhauled by some brands. Crédit Agricole Ile de France decided to completely rethink its On and Off customer journeys, focusing on relationship innovation. “Innovation that makes sense and brings people together,” adds Sarah. “The goal is to find ways to enrich the customer relationship, to improve its flow, to reintegrate the idea of trust. This has been manifested in digital tools – a welcome terminal to indicate arrival, an interactive space with touchscreens, a bar with stools and tablets to work while you wait… as well as the overall experience – having a coffee while waiting, a well-appointed waiting room, free Wi-Fi, etc.”
—Another important aspect: Advice. Nowadays, salespeople must be experts. To do so, they use digital tools that have an answer for everything. “At Sephora, employees have access to the customer’s purchase history, which lets them recommend suitable products and have personalised conversations,” notes Sarah.
—Personalisation is also one of the most appreciated features. For example, Nike and Adidas allow customers to create custom shoes; more specialist brands like Maison Labiche offer their customers products with custom embroidered text on the breast, over the heart. “It’s all about adding that extra little touch, which is what customers are really looking for,” says Sarah.
—Technology allows us to simplify the customer’s life and to optimise their journey. Connected fitting rooms are a good example.
—Digitalisation also allows one of the major issues concerning retail – making the brand’s entire range available to the customer – to be resolved. The Undiz Machine, which links the boutique’s stockroom to its retail space via a series of transparent plastic tubes, is a perfect example of this strategy. “This experience is at once entertaining – a nod to the past with the air-propelled tubes – and useful, because it puts the entire range at customers’ fingertips in no time,” Sarah emphasises. Uniqlo has also understood the importance of giving its customers access to its entire range with the “Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try our terminals,” displays. But more needs to be done to optimise the experience.
—Digital can contribute to creating a fun experience, to opening a door to something beyond simple consumption. Sézane has installed a photobooth in its l’Appartement store, making it easier for customers and the brand to work together. Uniqlo offers the option, via a terminal, of creating a postcard with a snapshot of your choice.
“At Burger King, when a terminal isn’t working, the screen reads, “Sorry, I’m not available today, I’m playing tennis! This terminal is unavailable, please head to another terminal to place your order,”’ Sarah explains. “It’s cool and it allows any feelings of a lack of understanding or disappointment to be defused with humour.”
—Several brands have begun to take the plunge into immersive digital and virtual reality. Audi offers, in over 15 of its dealerships, a 3D experience that allows the customer to ‘drive’ and experience the sensation of being on the road.
There can be no doubt; digital that’s well thought-out and put to the service of customer relations represents an incomparable advantage. And soon it’ll be indispensable.