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Connected Customer Experience

Blurred Lines: Integrating Physical & Digital Worlds

Author Bruce Burke on Apr-4-2014

Blurred Lines is a song recorded by American recording artist Robin Thicke for his 2013 album of the same name. The song has been a worldwide hit, topping the charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom.

And speaking of the UK, there is no brand that is more British than Burberry. According to a recent Forbes article the brand that is doing the best right now at blurring the lines between physical and digital worlds is Burberry.

The Forbes article relates that Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and now head of Apple Retail said it best when describing her Burberry London Flagship store. “Burberry Regent Street brings our digital world to life in a physical space for the first time, where customers can experience every facet of the brand through immersive multimedia content exactly as they do online. Walking through the doors is just like walking into our website. It is Burberry World (the brand’s website) live.”

Now that’s quite a statement to make, and personally I can’t think of another single retailer that could even begin to make or support such a statement. Most retail displays are antiquated counters, shelves and end caps, they have no digital displays and shelf tags display minimal information about the items they contain.

There are no dynamics, digital displays, and in most cases not even a working model on the floor. It’s just row after row of boxes and clamshell containers that don’t allow you to touch or access the products. There is not even an in-store facility to compare features that have become quite popular on most brands e-commerce websites.

Essentially all the features and benefits consumers find so engaging on the web are virtually non-existent in the retail environment, it’s no wonder that consumers find the product in the store, then turn to their Smartphone or the web to purchase it - the experience is better! No clueless salespeople, no badly executed sales techniques, and no lines to stand in waiting to purchase.

Counters, shelves, endcaps and boxes

Product information is the real kicker that makes sales, that’s why so many brands have injected their own product experts into the aisles during the busier days at consumer electronics stores. They don’t count on retailers to train their staff to become experts on a single manufacturer’s product line that’s constantly evolving with new models and features.

Yes Burberry is a totally different model; they are both the manufacturer and the retailer. But a product is a product and a store is a store. And that’s why electronics giants like Apple, and Samsung are leasing space and offering their flagship products at a store within a store. 

No it isn’t an immersive experience like the former Burberry CEO described, but it does offer the brand some control over the way their product is displayed, presented and sold to consumers. But some square footage on the floor of high-traffic locations is far from an ideal solution for both brands and consumers.

Immersive ExperiencesWould a more immersive multimedia content draw consumers into retail stores? The success of luxury brand seems to indicate yes, but can the same be said for everyday goods and consumer electronics?

Most retailers would agree the profit margin doesn’t allow for expensive engagement solutions or unique shopping experiences. However if the solutions sold more goods and increased the average revenue per shopper would it then be considered beneficial?

Tracking a sale back to a dynamic display might be difficult, without systems to measure effectiveness of new retail solutions.

Sales could be chalked up to some other contributing factor. New dynamic systems must contain not only the mechanism to promote products but also track performance of the promotion itself.

Yes these types of solutions are not standard for every location. Burberry has its clothing in other retailers, and not all Burberry stores have the digital benefits of the Regency Street location. It’s a one-off and not available in every Burberry store, however bits and pieces of the corporate culture slip into each location, and article in some way, shape or form.

Even if you don’t buy your Mac from an Apple retail store you still have the benefit of the corporate culture. It permeates the brand allowing it to distinguish itself from the competition.

Blurring the lines between the digital and physical worlds

Yes lines are blurring more and more between physical and digital worlds and it’s probably truer of retail than any other industry. However, we still have a long way to go before all retailers offer an experience so blurred that it’s difficult to discern, and consumers are able to buy with the same fluid motions that they’ve come to expect from the online, mobile and social world.

If you’d like to learn more about how systems of engagement can benefit your organization you can start by joining Warranty Week Editor, Eric Arnum as he moderates the upcoming webinar, Detecting and Preventing Warranty Fraud Using Predictive Analytics.

EVTA resized 600

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM join Venky Rao, IBM's North American Predictive Analytics Segment Leader, along with Terry Hawkins, President of the Global Warranty and Service Contract Association and Ashok Kartham, Founder and CEO of m-ize as they share their decades of experience in the warranty space.

In this webinar you'll learn to:

  • Transform through analytics for breakaway results

  • Learn from solutions that get smarter with every outcome

  • Align your organization around information

  • Anticipate, see, predict and shape business outcomes

  • Act with confidence at the point of impact to optimize results

Webinar registrants will receive a complimentary copy of The Service Council’s recently published whitepaper, Customer Experience Management: Strategies to Succeed.

Register For Webinar & Download Content

You’ll also receive the opportunity to watch the replay video of the live webinar resulting from the report, as well as an infographic highlighting key data from the report and other associated content.

Topics: Experience, Consumer, social, mobile, connected, Engagement, brand, systems of engagement, retail

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