Author Archives: Mark Schroeder

Study reveals Millennials demand in-store tech and Gen Z won’t shop in your store unless you have WIFI

Don’t underestimate the power of Generation Z on customer spending and the difference this could make to your business. Not only have they been born with a smartphone in hand, but a new 2017 study by HCR Retail Advisory reveals that Gen Z (aged 10-17) actually prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores… if they have wi-fi. 90% of this tech savvy group say a strong wi-fi signal is important to them in their shopping experience.

Millennials on the other hand (aged 18-41) are going to need a little more than a wi-fi signal to get their butts into your store as they prefer to shop online. There is a chance that attracting Gen Z’s into your store will influence their millennial family members to join them, but if you want to meet customer demand and exceed competitors, there is more to be done. The study reveals the in-store and social tech that these groups expect from you in delivering a transformative, tech driven shopping experience.


Magic Mirrors to Enhance In-Store Experiences

Ever tried clothes on in a change room and taken a classic mirror selfie to send to a well trusted fashionista friend or family member who will either make or break your decision to purchase the item? If yes, you’re not alone and if no, chances are you’re not a millennial.

This common trend among millennials and Gen Z’ers has sparked the demand for magic mirrors in change rooms. They are essentially wi-fi enabled digital touch screens. Whether it’s facetiming your friend for fashion advice, sending images through social media or adjusting the lighting to see what the clothing piece would look like under different conditions, they keep you connected, which is what these target groups are all about.

66% of Millennials aged 18 to 34 said they would be at least somewhat likely to use the technology, while Gen Z and young Millennials would embrace emerging technologies, particularly if they enhanced a connection with their social network or streamlined the shopping experience.

Rebecca Minkoff’s interactive U.S. store features the magic mirror, but the shopping experience doesn’t end there. Customers can also order a complimentary beverage when they first walk in and receive a text message when their drink is ready.


Social Networks Drive Purchase Decisions

With 60% of the Gen Z and Millennials on Facebook daily, more than 50% use social media to make decisions while shopping.

While social networks don’t drive a high number of sales directly – as it’s not about a simple click to buy transaction – they have a large influence over the products purchased, which can be leveraged to drive customers in store.

Leveraging social media as a key part of the buyer journey can be done through retargeting, influencer marketing, paid media, Facebook store locations… the list goes on. The approach you take depends on your audience and how they use social tools to choose the products they buy. For example, 54% of Gen Z’ers beauty purchases are driven by friends and YouTube influencers.


Implementing the best tech for your customer shopping experience starts by analysing and understanding your target audience to know what is important to them. Want to learn more? For a casual and informative chat on how we take a customer strategy-led approach, contact us on 1800 737 266 or



HCR Retail Advisory Study –



Digital advertising – reaching customers in the “now” moment of their decision

‘Reach customers with the right message, in the right place, at the right time’. This is something we hear endlessly, but is it really that important? You can get by with ‘business as usual’ marketing, communications right? A once a month mass marketing email newsletter that advertises new products and the latest sales to everyone? Right? Wrong.

But is reaching customers in the right moment even plausible? The process must be expensive and way too technologically advanced.

These are the thoughts running through the minds of retailers online and offline, overwhelmed by the opportunities and threats presented by digital disruption. With new technology comes fear of the unknown, fear of investing your resources in something new and changing your marketing strategy. But if we don’t change, we remain stagnant, competitors who are riding the wave of digital disruption will exceed us, making our brands stale and before we know it, forgotten.

What is the ‘now’ moment? This is addressed through a concept developed by Google called ‘The Zero Moment of Truth’. This is the moment when customers research online for a product they’re looking to buy, or browse through brick and mortar stores with the intention of finding a product which best suits them. This is when your brand needs to reach the customer, with a message that stands out from the rest.


New ways to reach the ‘now’ moment in-store

Retail is turning to tech to revolutionise their customer’s in-store experience in a way which requires less staff, but is more personal than ever before.

Beacon Technology  

What if when walking into your store, customers received a welcome message and when shuffling through clothes and items in different sections, they received messages offering discounts, product specifications or accessories for the exact item they are viewing? Beacon technology situates sensors in your store that track the location of your customer using their smartphone, allowing you to send push notifications to their mobile device.

Intelligent Digital Signage

Digital signage in-store gives the capability to track customer’s position, movement and facial expressions, and respond with relevant content on screen. But what if we need to attract customers into the store? Your signage can face the front of your store and interact with customers as they walk past.


How to reach the ‘now’ moment online

Why blindly reach out to your target audience online when you can reach out to people who have been actively engaging with your brand and products online. This audience is in a much warmer place with your business and much more likely to make a purchase if they are retargeted with a friendly reminder. The digital landscape provides a multitude of ways in which you can retarget your potential customers:

Social Media

Ever search for a product online and then see this same product pop up in your Facebook feed? Social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have retargeting tools available within their paid advertising features so you can retarget potential customers after they’ve browsed your website, Facebook page, or engaged with your content.


Let’s say a potential customer is browsing your online store and adds an item to their cart but leaves without making the purchase because it may just be that little bit above their price range. What if this customer was then delivered an email, advertising this product with a 20% discount which led them back to your online store to make the purchase. Email retargeting is a great way to deliver personalised messages straight to your customer’s inbox according to what they’ve engaged with on your site.

Google Display Network

Within Google’s paid advertising platform, the Google display network provides yet another way to retarget potential customers. This monitors your website visitors and then places your display ad on websites that they visit after this.


Want to learn more? For a casual and informative chat on how we take a customer strategy-led approach, contact us on 1800 737 266 or


Create unique customer experiences using in-store technology


Now, more than ever, you really need to convert every store visit into a sale, right? You work so hard and spend so much to generate foot traffic but are you doing everything possible to convert shoppers into buyers?

Are you responding to what’s been called ‘The Experience Economy’?

People have responded by the billions to the immediacy and the value offered by ecommerce and increasingly mcommerce. With the option to hop online and buy whenever they want, customers’ functional shopping needs – range, convenience, price-competitiveness, recommendations and reviews, deep product information – have been met.

So when they take time out to visit your physical store, they’re looking for something different. They want to step into a world where they are delighted by a unique experience which rewards the time they invested.

Traditional retailers need to secure their place in the shopper’s new world by building on their strengths and exploiting online’s weaknesses whilst at the same time integrating its best tricks into the store experience.. With no retailing experience, Apple went from being a tech manufacturer to having the world’s highest yield per sqm of retail floor in just a few years. As online giants such as Amazon start to push into physical stores, beware the traditional retailer that isn’t thinking very hard about how they can optimise the store experience to satisfy needs and drive conversion.



In-store technology comes to the fore

The pace of development in store-based technologies is breathtaking as retailers start to accept that tech-based experiences can provide a competitive edge that online retailers can’t replicate. In fact technology itself can be a great brand differentiator.

The variety of ways to integrate technology to transform a shopper’s buying experience is huge, ranging from basic digital signage using screens to replace the old paper posters (adding video impact and removing paper wastage), to fully immersive augmentred reality tools that allow you to visit virtual worlds to try out a product!

Take clothing retailer, UNIQLO for example, who created ‘Umood’ here in Australia, a neuroscience- based tool that reads customer’s neurological reactions to clothing shown, and recommended products to compliment the consumer’s state of mind. What a great way to broaden customers interest in offerings they may not have considered.


Any number of fashion retailers now offer digital interactive change rooms. These come in several guises. Customers’ product selections can be automatically identified as they enter the changing room so that a recommendation engine can then suggest (ie upsell and cross sell) matching accessories which they can request to be brought to them using a touchscreen display.  Others allow you to try clothes on, activate a scan and then see how you look wearing virtually displayed accessories.  It’s fun and functional for the customer, and effective selling for the retailer.

Another local example is Sheridan Sheets’ use of virtual product merchandising. Obviously there’s a limit to how many bedspreads you can display, and stacking them in shelves doesn’t show the product to its best advantage, so Sheridan use touchkiosks where the user can scroll through images shown. Laminex takes this a step further, offering kiosks to let you overlay your selected combination of finishes and colours onto various virtual kitchen environments to help you envisage the end result, all assisted of course by a knowledgeable sales assistant who uses the technology as part of the sales process.

US home improvement store, Lowes takes it a step further, allowing customers to step into a room that uses 3D technology to show exactly how these products would look together.


A great example of using technology for operational/customer service purposes is the use of mobile devices by sales staff to empower them with information on demand – from what’s the difference between those two washing machines to what kind of fasteners you need to install them. A Motorola survey showed that when shoppers received guidance from a retail associate armed with a mobile device, 43 percent reported an improved shopping experience.

As with so many examples of technology, this has the added advantage of collecting customer data and insights – as you collect each touch or slide of the finger, you get data about what customers are asking about. Suddenly the store becomes a valuable source of behavioural data that cannot be collected online.


With so many options, where to start your journey

Although the cost of all technologies is plummeting, integrating it into your retail concept is a big step.  Selecting the best technology can be difficult and it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and lose sight of your goals, so where do you start?


Well the two most important building blocks are your own team, and of course the good old customer!

Define their shopping and decision making process; what is their mindset incoming to the store, what it is they want in terms of experience, information, entertainment, interaction, engagement and customer service?  Then start to explore the many ways technology can impact and optimise each of these areas.

For your team, don’t leave this to a single silo. How many retailers have an innovation budget, let alone a suitably qualified and empowered manager? A major issue is project ownership; whilst these technologies serve marketing (and sometimes training) objectives, they involve the kind of technologies that are generally designed, procured, managed and even funded out of the IT department. Often the two functions work at cross purposes or even in opposition! Create a cross-functional team to work on the project – marketing, retail ops, IT, store design and merchandising all play a role. You MUST also secure top down support.

Did you know that Forrester Research predicts that one-third of companies in the B2C space will begin changing their business structure to get closer to the customer and effectively compete on the basis of experiences? These companies will move from functional-siloed organizations that prioritise efficiency and control to customer-driven matrix structures.

There’s so much more to say, so for a casual and informative chat on how we take a customer strategy-led approach to customer-facing technology, contact us on 1800 737 266 or