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In 1988, Dan Wieden coined Nike’s now infamous tag – Just Do It. It was the perfect call to action, one of marketing’s best retail advertising strategies and the ideal way to blast a growing brand into the stratosphere. The reason it worked so well is that it was universally personal, striking a chord with everyone. How? Well it targeted something that we can all relate to. One common trait all humans share, just in different measures. By targeting laziness, Just Do It became the most successful marketing strategy of the 20th century. Although only fifteen years into this century, I think Apple have matched this feat already with their There’s An App for That campaign. Rather than combating laziness however, they’re actually fueling an entirely new type – intellectual laziness! There is literally an app for everything so that you don’t really have to think for yourself, question anything, remember anything or basically ever go without. The rise in intellectual laziness amongst a generation of ‘always-on, always-informed’ consumers is having a huge impact on retail. So how do engage with those that can’t be bothered?

Immersive brand experiences

Shopping has lost its sex appeal! As technology helps us become even lazier, it’s also helping us avoid having to get up off our backsides. As well as there being more and more technology that helps us avoid going in to stores at all, the store themselves are offering greater levels of technology like self-service checkouts, contactless credit cards and home delivery, to help us get back out as soon as possible. In a world where we’re busier than ever, shopping has become more of a chore and less of an enjoyable experience. Yet it’s the push towards better in-store experiences that has become the new battleground where brands will either make it or break it! As usual, the big brands are leading the cavalry charge to incentivise, engage and activate customers with immersive brand experiences.

iBeacon

Apple’s low-powered wireless indoor positioning technology iBeacon enables small wireless location-aware sensor beacons to pinpoint where customers are in a store. Retailers can then send notifications of nearby products, offers and information available in store, straight to iOS 7 devices such as iPhones or display them on nearby digital signage. Apple themselves are in the process of installing iBeacons across 245 stores in the US, having already installed 20 of them in its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York.

Cashless Customers

Many of the world’s biggest music festivals are giving revellers funky RFID bracelets preloaded with money. Like its cousin the iBeacon, RFID technology is changing the way people can spend money and is leading live entertainment towards cashless events. And it’s working, with initial trials returning a 20% average increase in spending when using cashless technology. If it can work in a muddy field filled with 100,000 young people, surely cashless shopping can work in a retail environment, something Apple Pay is keen to ‘cash-in’ on too.

Virtual Reality

If Mark Zuckerberg is willing to part with $2billion in cash and Facebook stock for virtual reality pioneers Oculus Rift, you know it has a future. Retailers are extremely excited about the possibilities of virtual reality and American outdoor-clothing company Merrell has been quick to get ahead of the competition. They’re using the Oculus Rift to get back to their outdoor roots and re-engage with their adventure-loving consumers by allowing them to “walk around” a virtual forest inside some of their stores.

In store gamification

There was nothing virtual about the experience shoppers faced in a gamification experience/stunt in a Korean pop-up store of clothing company The North Face. Unsuspecting customers watched as the floor beneath them slowly began to disappear, forcing them to grab on to the surrounding walls, complete with rock-climbing holds. If they wanted to win the brand-new North Face jacket dangling from the roof, they simply had to climb up and get it within 30 seconds.

Showcase products through demonstrations

Ok so not everyone can afford to build a rock-climbing walled store but they definitely do need to ensure their store is welcoming and the shopping experience fun (or at least less mundane). What’s more, easiness needs to be a central focus of both because brands that make it easier for consumers to make the decision to purchase, will have the upper hand on their competitors! With 76% of shopping decisions made in store (POPAI), the best way to get a shopper to make a decision is to help them with it in person. Swedish furniture giants IKEA have mastered this. If you’ve ever gone furniture shopping you’ll know how boring it is and how difficult it is to make a decision. IKEA took the pain out of the shopping experience and added a bit of fun by actually building and kitting out entire rooms for you to walk through, interact with and ultimately, make a more informed purchasing decision about. If that’s still not working, they have a fleet of specially trained computer-aided designers on hand to virtually put the furniture in your home with you. It’s also why when you walk into an Apple store, you’re immediately greeted by a charming employee who is more than happy to offer you a personal, expert-led demonstration of the latest product. And it’s working, with 80% of shoppers turned on to a product by in-store inspiration and ideas (Diageo).

The ability to share these experiences

Restaurants used to be about eating great food, now they’ve become a digital experience. Diners go online to search out reviews, browse the menu before they arrive, check in, take photos (when they finally order), Tweet about every bite and then leave a review. Why? Because experiences are best when they’re shared! For example, 135,000 photos are uploaded to Facebook every minute. Give shoppers in your store the ability to share their experiences with their friends, family or the general public. Offer them discounts for checking-in online. Invite them to upload photos of things they try on so they can get social affirmation. Reward them for liking your social media pages. The more ways they have to share that they’ve been in your shop, the better for you.

Finally, align your store with brand values

In the film BIG, Tom Hanks famously plays a giant keyboard by dancing on it. It looked like the greatest toy store in the world. Rightly so, toy stores should be fun, yet how many times do you see signs like ‘Parent’s, please control your children’ or the worst of all, ‘Do not touch’. Hamleys, the oldest toy store in the world, lets kids run wild in their stores, play with the demonstration models and basically have fun. They understand that your store is an extension of your brand and has to align with you brand values. Take Starbucks. They have meticulously decked out their cafés with brilliant finishes and filled them with the irresistible aroma of freshly brewed coffee. You can even pick the coffee beans up in your hands to smell them, feel them and ultimately buy them. All this shows how seriously they take their coffee and that’s why they get away with charging so much for it. However you want your brand to be perceived, make sure your store is leading the way. If it’s dirty, disorganised or uninviting, people won’t part with their money in there.

Don’t worry but don’t dither

Despite the overall growth in online shopping, physical stores are not going away any time soon! Yes consumers can showroom and find the same products your selling, online for less, but if you work with your retail advertising agency and think outside the box, you can offer consumers unique experiences they can’t get from a laptop, tablet or phone. Because it’s no longer about what you sell, it’s how you sell it!