James Deeley, head of creative strategy at retail technology company Amaze, talks about the business’s recent work with sports brand Asics.
Personalisation in the retail industry is on the rise and increasingly, brands are getting smarter and more sophisticated, providing customers with more engaging in-store experiences. Consumers are also getting savvier in terms of how they use the internet for shopping. “Web rooming” (where consumers research purchases online before visiting the store for a real-life look at products) is now becoming more prominent compared to show rooming (where consumers view items in-store, then purchase later online),
It will come as no surprise then that a brand such as Amazon recently opened its first, fully-staffed retail environment called Amazon@Perdue. It’s unlikely that this will be the only digital retailer to move to a physical from an online environment. The thinking behind Amazon’s physical store is to deepen customer engagement and lock in loyalty from the outset; offering a joined-up approach to its customer services, linking up with services like Prime too.
Brands like Amazon recognise there is now a real need and relevance for brands to have physical interaction with customers, by returning to the physical retail experience. If this change happens, as anticipated, there is a risk that purely digital retailers will be easily usurped by other brands that have realised this change earlier on. What is certain is that an ingrained intelligent approach to digital and physical experiences will be a business advantage in the coming years.
An example of personalisation in action
Capitalising on this need to blur the lines between on and offline, we recently developed a new interactive in-store product advisor for global sportswear brand Asics. The advisor offers a fresh and personalised approach to a digital user experience in the physical retail environment, and a new way to explore and select from an extensive range of Asics products.
It works by offering a simple but highly immersive experience via an in-store wall mounted display screen responding to a supporting iPad, and connected through a variety of technologies that uniquely communicate with one another.
Created with 4K video, depth and motion tracking cameras are combined to attract and react to passing customers. Once attracted, customers are gradually matched to recommended products to their personal preferences, running habits and requirements by answering a series of questions through the iPad. By placing the iPad in their hands, customers are reassured that personal details, such as age and weight, are inputted discreetly and confidentially.
The Product Advisor makes up a key feature of Asics’ overarching global strategy, ‘Mix Up Your Run’, which encourages customers to get more out of their running, by also presenting them with other suitable shoes from related categories. By incorporating more digital touch points within the brand’s retail stores Asics was able to offer a better and more in-depth customer experience for all – whether they are in-store to browse or to buy.
Retail technologies, which make bespoke selections about products, have become of increasing importance to the retail industry in recent years and products such as the new Product Advisor now take this personalisation to a wider community. Most innovatively is the fact that this technology invites customers to engage, rather than waiting for them to initiate interaction and this means that, if even when browsing, they too are offered a highly personal experience.
The Product Advisor was launched in the Asics Hamburg Flagship store, and is been progressively expanded into other flagships stores and remotely supported at key running events throughout Europe.