The holiday retail season is upon us, and it is anticipated that the impact of digital will once again be positive and demonstrable on retailers’ “bottom line.” eMarketer is reporting in their Holiday Shopping Preview that digital sales will reach $72.41 billion dollars, an increase of 16.6% over 2013.
With those anticipated sales, retailers need to focus on good user experience (UX) practices for their digital destinations; focus should be on making navigation simple, products easy to find and checkout seamless. But many forward-thinking retailers are realizing that good UX isn’t necessarily limited to the digital world.
Consider the UX evolution of banking. Withdrawing money once meant making a trip to a building (the bank itself), within a limited window of hours during the day (often 10a to 3p), to fill out some paperwork (a withdrawal slip) and wait in line.
Then, the automated teller machine (ATM) was introduced. With that change in UX, you didn’t need to visit the physical bank. You didn’t have to fill out any paperwork. Best of all, you could do all of this pretty much any time you wanted.
Today, the ATM often identifies you by name, knows your withdrawal habits and can email you receipts of your transactions.
If the ATM represents the evolution of good UX practices into the physical world, then what might good UX in the physical world mean for the coming holiday retail season?
In some respects, and for some time, that evolution has been underway. Consider these changes:
- In-store pick up for online retail orders
- Distributive fulfillment (retailers ship from stores versus a single warehouse)
- Self-checkout (consumers use a smartphone to scan a product, pay for it and leave)
These are improvements in the overall UX of the retail shopping experience, and most agree that they have contributed to higher sales.
First up this year, iBeacon – the mobile technology from Apple that provides location-based communication – will be used in a larger number of retail stores to provide consumers with an improved retail UX by providing content that is personal, relevant and timely.
Second, Projection mapping and improved content marketing should provide retailers with the ability to turn their retail space into a more experiential destination. For example, imagine a consumer goes to hhgregg, scans a picture of their living room and is then able to project that image against a wall where appliances, furniture or electronics could be placed to give a sense of what those products would look like in-home.
Third, Marketplace featured a story just this week explaining that eBay is working with “brick & mortar” retailers to change the UX of shopping by transforming storefront windows into touchscreen displays that consumers can use to shop from when the store is closed.
All of these retail UX improvements can be further enhanced by the inclusion of, or connection to, social media channels (allowing consumers in-store to share with friends online).
Working with retail clients to speed this evolution of UX into the physical retail world is what smarter marketing partners are doing. We see it… limitless possibilities for retail, improved sales and plenty of innovation under the tree.