In 2018, it feels as though we have finally landed in the “future” as detailed in our favorite sci-fi plots. Disruptive technology has allowed us to become a truly connected world, and social media has facilitated the need for people to feel constantly connected. This need to feel connected has not only allowed us to explore the exciting technologies of smart homes, digital assistants, and wearable technology created to make our lives easier, but it has also allowed us to explore how to truly integrate new tech into our daily lives.

Now more than ever, consumers have a heightened awareness of the need for updated tech integrations, beyond just creating cool wearable accessories. As technology rules the modern consumer’s life, retailers are not only expected to be digital-first to succeed, but they now need to ensure users are engaged throughout the entire process. This, in turn, has completely flipped consumers’ expectations when it comes to shopping. With eCommerce giants like Amazon setting the standard for instant gratification with fast shipping and allowing users to dictate their shopping experience via the app, online, or in-person, e-retailers and traditional retailers alike need to step their game up across multiple touchpoints to even be considered competition.

“The modern shopper’s comfort with digital channels and content has changed the consumer purchase journey from a traditional linear model to a complex journey across online and offline touchpoints. But regardless of touchpoint, consumers expect a consistent brand experience at all times.” (The Business of Fashion)

We believe the solution to the modern retailer’s dilemma is simple: make user-experience the focus instead of an afterthought, with in-store digital innovations and customer-focused apps to drive sales.

Jose Neves, founder of multi-billion dollar online luxury fashion retailer FarFetch, stated “Where tech can help is not with gimmicks but making the experience more human.” (Vogue)

So the question remains, how can retailers create digital experiences that feel more human?

Retail brands like Reformation and Rebecca Minkoff saw after they introduced digital-fitting rooms that allow users to control lighting, play music, and request different sizes all from the touch of a button within the room, customers “buy on average three times more apparel than in a regular dressing room.” (NBC) In eCommerce, retailers rely on personalization and artificial intelligence to adapt to consumers’ purchasing behaviors. Online fast-fashion retailer ASOS took personalization and AI to the next level by introducing the Style Match feature in their app, a reverse image finder where “users can tap the camera icon in the search box to upload a screenshot from Instagram, a photo taken from a magazine, or to take a picture right from the app, and get results of shoppable items.” (The Verge) ASOS was able to create a digital connection between their customers that felt both innovative and human by identifying a huge gap within the process of consumer’s purchase journey, they were able to develop a digital assistant to help them find the exact clothing they want to purchase.

One of our personal favorites here at Dragon Army is incorporating augmented reality (AR) into the consumer’s retail experience. (Still getting AR and VR mixed up? Our CEO and COO Jeff and Ryan break it down in this awesome podcast.)

A great example of the power of AR in retail is the recently launched app by global fast-fashion retailer ZARA. Customers can easily download the free Z[AR]A app as they shop to bring digital innovation directly into their in-store shopping experience. The AR app cleverly showcases ZARA’s latest studio collection by encouraging customers to use the app to find surprise and delight AR moments hidden within store displays and packages from online purchases. Using the AR camera in the app, models come to life on the phone screen wearing the latest spring collection. “Customers will be able to see 12 different scenes, all of which were captured with 68 cameras on a 170 square meter stage, one of the largest productions of its kind, according to a company spokesperson.” (Next Reality) All the looks featured can be purchased instantly within the same app. Additionally, users will also be able to share their experience with AR on the social media channel of their choice.

Zara’s bold move to introduce AR to its customers not only illustrates their understanding of their client base but showcases their proactiveness to adopt new technologies. In addition to ensuring their online experience is engaging with an easy-to-use app and website, they saw an opportunity to design a completely new user-experience that supports the traditional touchpoints they already have in place. (@zara)

To be successful in this space, retailers need to embrace the power of both the consumer and new technologies, instead of relying on the traditional retail strategies that have put countless retailers out of business. Retailers need to bring disruptive technology such as AR to the forefront of their digital experiences to continue to engage and capture modern consumers, as well as adopt digital strategies that allow retailers to support consumer-driven trends.

Whether your digital solution is for brick and mortar or completely online, it’s time to rethink how you connect with your audience.

By: Veronica Miller, Account Coordinator at Dragon Army, LinkedIn