Digital Tools Boost In-Store Service

Retailers are using digital solutions to enhance offline shopping practices more than ever.

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In February, Neiman Marcus revealed that it’s testing a new iPhone app that aims to provide immediate service to customers. Developed by Signature and in a testing phase at four stores in Texas and Calif., shoppers get alerted on which of their preferred sales associates are working at the moment, current sales, upcoming events and new product arrivals through sensors installed at entry points throughout the store. They can also make personal shopping appointments or scan QR codes to gain additional product info or make favorite products. There’s also a component that enables the sales associate to utilize the app to gain information on the shopper’s buying history and favorite products, and like the customer, they too get alerted when a client arrives in-store (and are supplied with a Facebook photograph to boot).


On the mass level, Sears and Kmart both implemented holiday ad campaigns that included shoppable QR codes located at malls and movie theaters around the country last year and have also supplied sales associates in more than 400 stores with Apple devices to assist consumers with anything from ordering product online to checking inventory. Tory Burch also launched a pilot in-store mobile strategy in a few of its New York locations last fall, and chief marketing officer Miki Berardelli told WWD in January that the brand is working on a full store rollout now by the end of 2012.

“We see mobile as the true bridge between online and offline. Our customer carries her device with her at all times and enters our stores more informed than ever,” Berardelli said.

Then there is five-month-old Euclid Elements — billed by the company as a “Google analytics for the retail space” — that charges retailers a monthly subscription rate to aggregate extensive data on shopper traffic movement in real time. The company announced $6 million in funding last November from a small group of investors, including New Enterprise Associates, one of the first investors in Groupon.

“The biggest difference between online and offline is data,” said Euclid Elements founder and chief executive officer Will Smith. “The advantage online has is data, which they can use to make the most of its services. What’s really hard for offline is the feedback loop.”

The solution tabulates foot traffic anonymously through a sensor in the store that counts how many people walk by via smartphone. It’s also able to calculate how frequently people visit the store and the time between visits, as well as measures engagement by the amount of time spent in the store or in a particular section.

Smith explains that in the digital world, a brand or retailer can change something on its site, post new product or implement a different marketing campaign, and within a short amount of time they are able to figure out if it is working or not. It takes longer to figure out if a company’s strategies are working in the offline world, though, and this is what Euclid Elements is working to address.

“If you change your window display we can tell you the impact of this within hours. This is all so the retailers can know what they’re doing is working or not. It’s not changing their fundamentals; we’re just letting them know if their efforts are working or not. Right now, it takes entirely too long to know if they aren’t or aren’t,” Smith said.

Smith declined to name clients, but he said he works with a number of luxury and mall-based retailers.

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