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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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The shop of the future (Part 2)

I recently wrote a blog which argued that shops of the future be more of a showroom and point of customer support than as a place for buying things.

In this blog, I want to consider the impact that this will have on the store design, layout and technology in the shop of the future.

The shop of the future MUST create an enjoyable environment to browse products, compare specifications or prices and seek advice. The most important aspects of delivering this will be the quality of the staff and the layout.

The quality and customer service offered by staff will be more important than ever before. It won’t be enough to be able to answer basic questions and take money at the till. The store assistant will have to be a product expert, being able to advise customers as to the different choices. They must also have the most up to date knowledge of competitor products, specifications and best prices. Finally, they must be trained and empowered with the best sales skills possible.

In addition to great staff and layout, the shop of the future will also incorporate these 5 elements:

  1. QR codes and dynamic pricing. Instead of price tickets next to each item, we will see QR codes that, when scanned, will lead the customer to a web page that will give the latest price comparisons. Not only that, I predict that the price itself will be dynamic, changing depending on local and national supply and demand.
  2. Tablet-enabled assistants. Sales assistants will all have tablet devices to enable them to check stock availability, compare product specifications and the latest prices. These will arm them with the latest information and empower them to become more effective sales people.
  3. Self-service points. Shops will have to self service points, giving customer the opportunity to personalise specifications, check out customer reviews and also and purchase items.
  4. Customer advice point and consultation space. The layout of the shop will have to create an inviting space for customer consultation and a designated customer advice point. This will make it possible for customers to seek advice, return products or get technical support. These points will create reasons for customers to visit stores, re-engage brands with their customers and create the more personal and tailored service that customers want but can’t get online.
  5. Customer events and product trials. Specialist events and trials will create promotional occasions to get customers to come in and visit the store, creating engaging sales opportunities and improving brand perception at the same time.

The opportunity is to engage customers with your brand and your products, creating a place where retail stores can sell and promote in a personal way. Bringing technology into the shop will mean information is up to the minute. By using QR codes and dynamic pricing, the shop of the future will embrace the mobile ‘showrooming’ trend rather than trying to ignore it.

The shop of the future won’t be about purchase, so it will have to be a place that is inviting and beneficial for the customer.

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