Opinion: The interactive experience at retail

Having a visual presence in retail is a vital way to ensure that bricks-and-mortar stores stay relevant in the digital world of online retail and in-store automation says TP-Link retail marketing manager Simon Buckingham

In the ever-changing retail world, coupled with the challenges of the growing popularity of online purchasing, it is now more important than ever to bring your brand to life and the products within stores as much as possible. When I worked in retail (I like to call this my grassroots period now), it became harder for myself and colleagues to deal with the influx of customers towards the end of my tenure. It become more difficult as general retail staff numbers were cut, but customers of course demanded the same level of service and waiting times as before. So the question arose: how do you keep customers in stores longer and be influenced to purchase without potential human interaction?

Today’s retail environment is still this way, particularly in peak seasonal periods and weekends. The silent salesman is actually really important today, and just looking around typical consumer electronic related stores you can see that brands, including ours, our taking the next steps in almost bringing a ‘digital’ feel to the retail shop environments. One great example I have seen is in the Oxford Street John Lewis store, within the Smart Home section. The interactivity is brilliant and with the store staff being busy with other customers, I can happily play with the products and learn about them through the educational POS and video loops.

I suppose one of my main tasks at TP-Link since I joined was to help the brand adapt to this modern way of interacting with the customer, with the ultimate goal of course being to help sell the products off the shelf. Mark my words, you will struggle to sell products if they are just sat on a shelf with no education or soft sell materials to support it.

I spend a good amount of my time, around once or twice a month, doing store visits. This is not just to check our brand and products, but also to see what competitors are up to, or even general brands not associated with our industry. I think it is really important in today’s retail world to step up otherwise you can see yourselves slipping behind others very quickly. One key result also from this will be that retail shops will still be around and needed, keeping as many jobs running for as long as possible.

In the future I would expect to see technology being used more in the retail space, so that even fashion retailers will potentially delve into an interactive experience. This will perhaps incorporate walking up to a digital mirror and seeing store items on you digitally to decide what it might look like before you go to look for it properly. I for one love retail and am excited about playing my part in helping to keep it going and growing alongside online shopping platforms.

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