Last week, we got a look at one of retail’s biggest tech innovations when Salesforce unveiled Einstein Visual Search at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show. This new functionality takes a user-uploaded photo and recommends a visually similar product from a given company’s product line. So, if a blogger posts a pair of shoes beyond your price range, you can use Einstein Visual Search to find a similar pair from your favourite retailer.
Pretty cool, right? From a retailer’s perspective, the announcement simultaneously demonstrates Salesforce’s commitment to artificial intelligence and the value Einstein brings to the retail ecosystem.
While Einstein Visual Search helps retailers collect more information from the online shopping experience, it begs a different question: how can retailers use online shopping data to enhance the in-store shopping experience?
When consumers still spend $10 out of $11 in physical stores, this is an important question for every retailer.
Bring Online Retail Offline
For Steve Buzinski, Traction on Demand’s Retail Business Development Manager, there is a big opportunity to exceed customer expectations by seamlessly connecting a customer’s in-store and online experiences. “Retailers are understandably focused on online channels, but there’s a risk that the in-store experience will suffer because it’s not fueled by the same insight,” explains Steve. “Connecting siloed data from marketing, commerce and service, and then presenting this information to sales associates bridges this gap.”
Steve’s sentiment is echoed across the industry. According to Forrester’s State of Retailing Online survey, most retailers are looking to improve their in-store shopping experiences this year. “Retailers should definitely build personas and strive for the Customer 360, explains Steve. “But it’s important to remember there’s a real person behind that data who expects a continuous experience between their online and offline experiences.”
Who’s Making this Transition Well?
Several e-commerce retailers are bridging the gap between online and offline as they venture into brick-and-mortar. These companies have built their entire business and brand on data, and they’re bringing that insight into their retail stores.
“INDOCHINO comes to mind as a good example of bringing the online retail experience offline,” explains Steve. “They equip their store associates with iPads and the exact information needed to guide each customer through a personalized suiting experience.” After nine years of pure e-commerce sales, INDOCHINO began opening showrooms in 2016 and it’s working. They are expecting a 43% year-over-year increase in sales for 2018.
As retailers gain access to more data, they’re going to find new ways to incorporate it into the consumer’s in-store experience.