• Aoife Butler

The return of Brick & Mortar: How tech companies are revolutionising the shopping experience

Even with the new surge of online shoppers over the last two years, the increase in online businesses is proving that physical stores should not be ignored.


Why is that? Well, consumers don’t live in isolation of any one medium. They crave human connection. They want to touch, taste and feel products. The ability to ‘try before you buy’ is a significant part of the shopper journey. With e-commerce, customers might be able to buy a new item of clothing at 2am or order a new phone while in their pyjamas, but we in the industry have to keep in mind that many people enjoy the experience of going out shopping and interacting with a customer service representative.


The tech giants of the world are already venturing into the retail business. We’ve taken a look at a few of these brick-and-mortar stores in San Francisco….



Apple

It goes without saying that the Apple Stores are the highest performing stores in the history of retailing. Everything about the Apple in-store experience is tactile, allowing you to pick up and interact with any product you like. Not only that, but the Apple Staff are the best in the business. They are so passionate and knowledgeable about the brand, the products and their many features, that they enthusiastically guide customers through every step of the shopper journey.



For Apple, their stores are there to add value beyond providing merchandise – they are there to enrich people’s lives. The ‘Today at Apple’ concept has proved extremely popular in offering shoppers the opportunity to sign up to in-person classes and workshops to learn more about their different products.





The iconic Genius Bar is another secret to the success of the Apple Store. The Genius Bar is a tech support service provided by Apple Inc inside Apple Stores to support the use of its products and services.





Meta

Meta launched its first physical store on May 9th in Burlingame, California. The store focuses on metaverse-related merchandise. It allows shoppers to test out products before purchasing, including Ray Bans Stories, AR goggles and Oculus Virtual Headsets.




The store features an immersive demo area on a large, wall-to-wall curved LED screen that displays what you’re seeing in-headset. Martin Gilliard, head of the Meta Store put it simply: “Once people experience the technology, they can gain a better appreciation for it. If we did our job right, people should leave and tell their friends, you've got to go check out the Meta Store”.





Amazon

Amazon paved the way with the launch of their frictionless stores, Amazon Go. There are now four Amazon Go stores in San Francisco since launching in 2018. Unlike most shops, there are no cashiers or check out registers. You simply walk in, choose what you want, and leave. Amazon calls it a 'just walk out' shopping experience, offering shoppers the very best of convenience.





The physical retail world and the online retail world are becoming increasingly integrated. Success will be awarded to the retailers that are able to integrate the virtual and physical experience, creating value for shoppers and customers alike.


 

Want to step up your shopper marketing activity?
Get in touch with Aoife at aoife@pluto.ie.





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