Can digital experiences save the physical store?

I recently came across a quote in Forbes Magazine that I won’t forget right away:

“Physical retail isn’t dead… boring retail is”. 

That says a lot about what is happening in the retail industry today.
Stores have to compete on the physical shopping experience because they cannot beat online webshops. 
Not on price. 
And definitely not on convenience.

Sadly, the experience today is often worse in the physical stores than at the online webshops.
In the physical stores, I cannot find what I'm looking for.
And, if I finally find the product, it’s only with a brief description on the back and an attached price tag. No uplifting customer experience.

Webshops, on the other hand, offer several value-adding features that help customers find the right product.

Search features help me find what I'm looking for.
Filters help me narrow down the range of products.
Ratings, size guides, video tutorials, and related products ensure that I get my own personalized shopping experience.

Physical stores still matter

But don't worry, all you shop owners and lovers.
As the quote points out, physical stores are not the past! The good news is that 82% of decisions about purchases are still made in the physical store and 34% of customers have no idea what to buy when they arrive.

So there is a lot of potential to influence the experience and still ensure sales in physical stores.

Create great customer experiences with digital solutions

The way to do so is by using various digital solutions in the physical stores that can enhance the shopping experience.
Studies show that combining tech solutions with stores can boost sales by 30-80% or increase interaction with the store and products 5-10 times.

Studies show that combining tech solutions with stores can boost sales by 30-80% or increase interaction with the store and products 5-10 times.

The goal is not to use digital solutions to move the sales online but to improve the shopping experience through the new opportunities provided by digital technologies and data. This allows the customer to get the best of both worlds.

So, I'm going to share an experience or two we have made in Adapt with digital in-store solutions, and how you should approach such a project as well.

Set the right goal

The first thing you need to decide is what you want to achieve with a digital instore solution. Without a goal, the result is not going to change one's business and won't last long.

A couple of classic goals for instore projects are increased sales, leads, or increased awareness.

These are all excellent goals.
But they will result in different solutions depending on where the focus is.

Measure whether your investment bears fruit

If it is something that needs to reverberate in one's organization, you need to consider success criteria and how to measure whether your investment has been able to pay off.

If the goal of the instore solution is to increase sales, you can measure the effect on the average purchase price, the number of customers, or the conversion rate.

Maybe your goal is to collect leads on potential customers. Then you should look at what a lead costs through a digital solution compared to other platforms.

Maybe the goal is to increase awareness. Then you can choose to measure the success of the project in publicity, awards, or sharing/likes on social media.

All these can be translated into a monetary value, which makes it possible to measure whether the project was worth the investment.

Practice makes the master

Instore solutions are greatly influenced by their physical surroundings. Because of that, other rules apply, and a different set of best practices.
In Adapt, we have experience in terms of design, location, cleaning, screen size, and the involvement of store staff.

That said, a new instore project should always be seen as an experiment to begin with. It takes several attempts and iterations to cross the finish line.

A good start is to try out some simple solutions in a few stores and collect qualitative data from there. Once you have gained the first experience, you can spread a customized concept to more than 10 stores and then begin to collect quantitative data.

From there, it's just a matter of trying out new initiatives and solutions.

Do you want to know how to choose, test, and implement an instore solution for your physical store? We deliver development, design, and UX that will ensure your business for the future. Contact me if you want to know more about how we can help create value for you and your customers.


Heidi Mønnike Jørgensen

UX Director