Blog AI & ML

A Day in the Life of a Connected Shopper

Ryan Hall Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 2 Apr 2019

It’s Saturday, but Dylan is already stressed.  His wife is working, and they are hosting a get together tonight with a few friends.  He’ll need to pick up appetizers and drinks, clean the apartment, and walk Baxter, their dog.  On top of that, he realizes he needs something new to wear – so he can’t waste any time.

Before getting in his car, he orders everything he needs from the grocery store on his laptop, through his family’s customer profile on the store’s website.  The profile remembers their frequently-bought items, so he easily drags and drops his list into the online cart.  To save time he selects the “curbside pickup” option, and sets his arrival between 3:30 – 4:00 pm.  He hopes this will give himself a little extra time to stop at the department store, to pick out a new outfit for the evening.   

As he drives off, a notification appears on his car’s digital dashboard, which is linked to his phone.  It’s an update from the grocery store’s customer app, letting Dylan know his order will be ready for pickup when he arrives.  A few minutes later he parks at the department store.  Upon entering, the in-store network solution automatically recognizes Dylan’s phone and seamlessly connects him to Wi-Fi.  Another notification pings on his phone: it’s a message from the retail brand’s customer app, welcoming him back and providing a list of personalized offerings.

Leveraging Wi-Fi and Location-Based Technologies for an Enhanced In-Store Experience

As retailers strive to find new, impactful ways to enhance the customer experience and optimize their operations, they are turning to innovative technologies for answers.  IT-networking solutions, the same technology that supports the day-to-day operations of the business, can also meet the mobile expectations of today’s connected shopper and ultimately deliver an enhanced in-store experience.

This includes offering guests access to secure, fast Wi-Fi connectivity while in-store, or understanding how customers move and interact in their environment.  From these insights, retailers can target customers in a contextual, personalized way with location-based messages or services, ultimately creating more value to increase conversions and positively impact revenue.

Dylan ‘accepts’ the notification to view the personalized menu of options, curated by the retail store and tailored to his buying habits, preferences, and loyalty.  He’s built up brand points with his recent purchases in the store and online, earning him a one-time 20% e-coupon.  He would like to use it today, so he hits ‘accept’ and the coupon is saved in his app.        

He’s also notified that there’s a sale on gym shorts and socks.  Since he’s bought athletic gear under the same brand previously, the store suggests these as items of interest.  Dylan doesn’t need socks, but he would like another pair of gym shorts; unfortunately, he isn’t sure where the shorts are located.  It’s a larger department store with several departments and a couple of floors.  He clicks on the promo for the discounted shorts to learn more and sees where they’re located in relation to where he’s standing.  Through the wayfinding functionality on the store’s app, Dylan is given the best route possible to the gym shorts.    

Personalized, Omnichannel Experiences in Retail

A personalized customer experience is essential to the success of the retail store. By having an agile and innovative mentality, which may present itself as an increased frequency in delivering new offers, retailers can connect with shoppers across multiple vectors and leave them “wanting more.” When retailers present different or special experiential moments to shoppers, they are more willing to return and more likely to develop a stronger brand-customer connection.

One of the most effective ways to do this is through personalization that complements online engagement practices, and also delivers a consistent, connected experience across engagement channels, including in-store, online, social, customer apps, and more!   

With the help of the app, Dylan easily locates the shorts.  He likes them! However, he can’t find a pair in his size.  Maybe there are more sizes outback?  Looking around, he doesn’t see any store associates immediately in his area, so he clicks the ‘Tap for Assistance’ option for help.  A few moments later, Amy, the nearest department associate approaches Dylan and asks how she can help.  He asks Amy if there are any ‘large’ sized gym shorts remaining.  She has her employer-issued tablet handy and quickly scans the tag to check on available inventory.  Looks like there are a couple more pairs outback!  Amy leaves Dylan momentarily and returns with a pair of the discounted gym shorts in his size.  Thanking Amy, he returns to his original task at hand – a new pair of pants and a new shirt.  

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He browses for a bit in the men’s pants area of the store and narrows it down to 3 or 4 options.  He’s having trouble choosing.  His remaining options have a similar look and fit, so he takes a closer look at the digital shelf labels under each pair.  The labels electronically display the list price as well as any discounts.  There aren’t any notable discounts, so he checks out the product ratings also include in the digital shelves, based on customer feedback submitted online.  This makes life (and Dylan’s decision) much easier: the pair of Levi’s is the only option that has a rating of over 4 stars out of 5, so he puts those in his store basket.

Electronic Shelf-Labeling Solutions

Electronic Shelf-Labeling (ESL) augments the in-store experience for customers while delivering a flexible, scalable solution for retailers to stay competitive in today’s economy. ESL offers a cross-section of benefits, including: seamless and paperless pricing, which allows pricing to autonomously update with changing market conditions, saving organizations a considerable expense on printing paper tags while saving time spent manually updating the new labels, reducing the overhead costs associated with traditional paper labels. ESL enables dynamic pricing, or the ability to price products based on internal and external factors.  Dynamic pricing helps businesses keep up with market trends and competitor pricing, and enables businesses to boost stagnant sales during slow periods or easily raise product prices to maximize margins. ESL also enhances shopping experiences within an individual store itself and for brands with multiple locations, customers are given a consistent brand experience.  Some ESL solutions can recommend similarly, “frequently bought together,” products in addition to including built-in product reviews – use cases that complement what shoppers are accustomed to while shopping online.

Dylan still wants to buy a new shirt, so he hurries over to the men’s dress shirts department.  There’s an overwhelming number of choices, and Dylan is a little picky when it comes to his shirt selection.  He also doesn’t have time to go back to the store for an exchange. He quickly surveys the shirts around him, picks out a few promising options, and then looks for a mirror to see how they look.  He notices that this mirror is a little different; it’s a touch screen with a menu of options and actions on the right-hand side, and a built-in product scanner at the bottom. 

[It’s an augmented reality mirror, allowing customers like Dylan to view and browse how apparel looks without trying the products on.  The store was able to implement this innovative technology in-store due to its recent investment in artificial intelligence, which offloaded a substantial amount of their routine, operational tasks consuming valuable time, budget, and staffing resources.] 

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Retailers face the challenge of supporting distributed locations across geographies, whether these properties are brick and mortar stores or are transportation and logistics facilities driving the organization’s supply chain. Both entities are mission critical for retailers, so ensuring constant operational uptime and efficiency is paramount.  That said, Gartner suggests approximately 80% of budgets are spent on day-to-day ‘maintenance-level’ tasks.   

This makes devoting time and resources on innovative projects incredibly challenging.  Retail businesses can be given a boost by augmenting human intelligence with artificial intelligence and machine learning; technologies that independently tune critical IT networking solutions (supporting retail environments) for changing conditions and unpredictable scenarios, letting retailers offload routine tasks to focus on what really matters.   

Instinctively, Dylan scans one of the shirt tags.  The image of the shirt in his hand automatically populates on the screen, showing him how it looks without trying it on.  He easily realizes that’s not the shirt for him and scans a couple more.  The third shirt he scans, a blue and white checkered button-down, is exactly what he was looking for and goes into his basket as he heads over to the checkout.  At checkout, Dylan uses the 20% off coupon sent to his phone for the button-down shirt.  After the gym shorts, shirt, and pants are scanned, the associate also scans Dylan’s brand app, to both pay for the items and add loyalty points to his customer profile.

As he’s leaving the store he’s pinged once more on his phone: it’s the store’s app, informing him the electronic receipt for his purchases is in his inbox.               

It’s only 3:45 pm as Dylan leaves the department store, giving him much more time than he anticipated.  As he drives into the grocery store parking lot and toward the ‘curbside pickup’ section, an associate is notified of his arrival and brings out his pre-ordered items.  Dylan gets out of his car and helps the associate load the groceries into his trunk.  Having already paid for everything on the app, he simply thanks the associate, gets into his car and heads home.  Now he just has to clean up the apartment and walk Baxter, and with the time he saved running out to the stores, maybe he’ll take Baxter to his favorite trail nearby. 

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