While the future of retail is unknown, the brick-and-mortar store has proven that it is far from dead. Online shopping is easier than ever, and although online sales have risen, brick-and-mortar stores are working to stay in the game. Retails stores are incorporating technologies to improve the shopping experience and customer engagement. Advances like smart fitting rooms are designed to keep customers intrigued. Although e-commerce offers personalization and convenience, the brick-and-mortar store offers new technologies and the human touch.

Technology, such as self-checkout, can reduce the intimidation factor that high-end stores often have a problem with. It allows for customers to peruse higher budget items at their leisure and not feel pressure from sales associates at checkout. Self-checkout is one way to keep the shopping experience more private, yet still be able to see and touch the items and try them on.

But retailers have some work to do to get more tech-savvy in brick-and-mortar stores. In a recent survey by IT consulting firm Capgemini, 54 percent of retail executives believed their stores haven’t gone far enough to adopt digital innovations.

Stores aim to take the personalization features of e-commerce, in which sites suggest products according to customers’ interests, and combine them with the social aspects of the brick-and-mortar experience. The new goal of many retailers is to provide a welcoming and custom experience that invites customers to come back.

One way that retailers are customizing the experience is by syncing tech in stores with online platforms, as well as making it user-friendly. Stores need tech to be friendly to a variety of users – savvy young users and older generations alike.

Keeping customers coming back to a brick-and-mortar involves providing a human experience that is lacking from online retailers. One way stores a giving this personal touch is through RFID-enabled smart mirrors. The mirrors display recommended products similar to what a customer is wearing and allow customers to make purchases from the tablets in the fitting rooms.

Smart fitting rooms allow shoppers to gain some of the personalization they find online, such as using touch-screens to request specific sizes- or even check out from the fitting room. This allows for the privacy of shopping online, but the ability to try on the clothes before purchase. Adaptability is key. Not all consumers want the completely anonymous experience, but allowing the customer to curate the experience that best fits them will entice them to return to the store.

As retail stores incorporate technology such as augmented reality, IoT, beacons and deep learning to gain more insight about customers and make the in-store experience more enjoyable, online and retail will become truly seamless. Also look for AI to impact customer service in the form of virtual assistance.

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