Shiny new customer-centric technologies have been shaping the future of retail for some time now. We’ve already seen the first waves of true technological innovation in the form of virtual fitting rooms, 3D foot scanners, and even software that mimics the experience of having a personal shopper. Technology has made it easier for workers to transform Customer Experience at all levels; high-end fashion retailers like Burberry have already made the move to Salesforce Marketing Cloud to track mentions on social media and engage with customers.
And when it comes to getting the most out of big data — a hot topic on every company’s collective mind these days — Google has gifted us BigQuery, their low-cost, fully managed big data analytics platform. To make a long story almost too short, BigQuery takes care of the 2 common data-specific user headaches: managing your own infrastructure and needing a database admin. You just move your data into BigQuery and let Google work its magic.
How better technology leads to greater sales and conversion
Say you enter a clothing store. You already know what you’re looking for (you saw it online). Would you rather hunt down a human being and ask questions or use an in-store touch screen? Hopefully, this is a trick question. (If you answered: “Yes, I’d rather talk to a live person,” I’m going to assume you’ve not yet had the magical experience of going to a store and using a machine that gives you instant gratification… much like Googling something in your sweatpants at home. It’s basically that, but in the presence of other people.)
So you can imagine that, as a retailer, in-store touch screens are a golden opportunity to impress, inform, and service customers without wasting your workers’ or your customers’ time. Basically, when it comes to time-saving technology, the lesson is this: If you build it, they will buy… again and again.
While in-store touch screens obviously add a personal, of-the-moment feel to the in-store Customer Experience, there’s a way to pair the positive effects of in-store technology with smart technology on the backend…
Google: the trick to stretching your advertising budget
Advertising has become an entirely different beast in the last few decades. You can’t just put a one-page ad in a magazine or craft a costly billboard and expect customers to flock to you (unless you’re an iPhone 6s). You need engaging, interactive digital branding. Scarier still, you also need to be able to track engagement and measure its effect on business growth and ROI. Google AdWords, Google’s advertising service for businesses that want to display ads on Google results pages and its entire advertising network, is one method of making sense of the keywords and clicks exchanged on your site every day.
In the past, it’s been difficult to make the connection between great digital marketing (i.e., personalization, instant gratification) and increased revenue. But Google for Work is helping businesses connect those digital dots. Both Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores and PetSmart are using Google AdWords’s Store Visits to see whether their ads are driving in-store visits and purchases. David Buckley, CMO of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, says it best: “We’ve always known that our digital efforts had an impact on store traffic, but it was difficult to quantify. These tools have helped us both with our ad formats and in our evaluation of their impact.” And according to Google’s Store Visits metric in Adwords, PetSmart found that 10-18 percent of all clicks on its search ads resulted in an in-store visit within 30 days.
What kind of value has Sears seen since moving to Google for Work?
- They’ve established a more interactive experience between technology and their customers (leading to improved in-store conversion)
- They’ve improved the in-store experience with self-service touch screens
- The big one: they’ve increased sales
If you can believe it, millennials (today’s most powerful customer) are an astounding 216 percent more likely to be influenced by in-store touch screen displays. In an age of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even everyday virtual reality devices, the ticket to increasing sales and conversion is technology that’s equal parts responsive and customizable.