The New Rules of Retail: The Mobile Device as Retail Interface

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Over the past several weeks, we’ve looked at the challenges retail is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve examined some ways retailers can respond.

Today, I want to look at how the consumer’s own mobile device can become the new retail interface.

Unfortunately, with cases hitting new highs across the U.S. every day, it’s clear that COVID-19 is going to be around longer than any of us might have hoped. At this point, if you want customers to come back to your stores, you have to be doing a lot more than just putting tape marks on the floor. It’s time to take action.

At The Industrious, we’ve spent the past few months working on technologies that can make stores safer and more attractive to shoppers, provide a more efficient sales experience, and give customers the thrill of discovery in spite of the restrictions that have to be in place.

It’s not just about designing a tool we can use during the pandemic — it’s about permanently changing your retail environment for the better.

We’ve recently been working with a leading electronics retailer to transform their interactive touchscreens into a new digital display experience — and so, in a matter of weeks, you’ll be able to walk up to a touchscreen in one of their stores, take out your own mobile phone, and use your phone like a trackpad to navigate all aspects of the in-store display.

It’s safer, it supports everything a customer needs in this new normal — and it makes a familiar interaction more exciting and delightful for the shopper.

What’s more, that kind of setup can be used in lots of other ways that empower both the shopper and the brand.

Here’s just one example.

A couple of weeks ago, I queued for 45 minutes outside a popular clothing retailer that was letting six customers into the store at a time. During those 45 minutes, how much time did I spend interfacing with the retailer?

None.

For the retailer, that’s a huge missed opportunity to learn more about the shoppers who are willing to queue to get into their stores.

While I waited, I could have been using my phone as a controller to interact with the store’s digital displays, but I could also have simply used my phone to tell the store I was waiting in line, to explore in-store inventory, and to have product pulled so it was ready to try on as soon as I walked inside.

At a more basic level, the retailer could have used their digital signage to advertise all the wonderful new policies and procedures they’re putting in place to keep shoppers safe — including explaining why I was being asked to wait in line for 45 minutes.

It’s something Disney has perfected in their parks — they understand how queuing can be an integral part of the experience. There are so many ways to start the conversation and make the shopper feel like she’s the star of the show, using proven technologies in a novel and dependable way — and it’s time to take advantage of that opportunity.

Next week, we’ll look at another way you can use the shopper’s mobile device to transform the retail experience.

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me directly here, or click here to download our white paper on responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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