Consumers are evolving and on the rare occasions that they go in-store, they have higher expectations from the in-store experience.
The new 4P’s in marketing reflect the importance of customer experience, exchange with the customer, evangelism through the customer and being every place for the customer. The customer becomes fully in control.
Zara understands that experience is key and focuses on getting customers in their stores by being the first high street clothing retailers to offer in store technology to lift the customer experience. By offering an in-store experience that customers will talk about, Zara creates an Army of brand loyal shoppers.
Zara are currently using augmented reality in some of their stores, allowing customers to use their phones to see models wearing selected styles when they click on the sensors in store, or in the AR-enabled shop windows or mirrors.
This isn’t surprising as they’re often the first to follow the latest clothing trends, so why not in-store technology too?
Recently when shopping at Zara I was asked if I wanted to use the self-service check-out to avoid the queue I was in. I didn’t even realise they had this option, so I jumped at the opportunity, knowing Zara and what they stand for as a brand I expected it to be a smooth process.
Self-service check-outs were introduced as a quicker, convenient alternative, but my experience was anything but.
The concept as a whole is great, instead of having to scan each item individually like you do at the supermarket, you put your items in the check-out area and it automatically registers what items you want to purchase due to RFID codes. Which is a great time saver and worked well, but I’ve read reviews online about the wrong RFID being attached to some products and therefore scanning as the wrong item.
With most of the items in Zara being quite high priced ticket items, they all have security tags, so after paying, you have to remove the security tags yourself…
Unfortunately, nobody warned me about this, and being in a rush, I bagged my items and headed towards the exit, only to be stopped by security as I tried to leave because I set the alarms off.
So after showing the security guard my receipt and explaining that I’d paid using self-check out he marched me back to the tills and revealed the two security tags left on my items. A team member had to come off the tills then to remove my tags for me, completely defeating the point of ‘self-service’.
This was probably my own fault for not checking for tags but when you’re in a rush, used to having it done for you and there not being any communication around to inform you about it, it’s not going to be front of mind.
I can’t help but wonder how many people will also make this mistake and whether they’re just teething problems?
Zara’s innovation reflects the way the retail industry is heading, what stores will be following next?
According to Forbes, in the US 95% of consumer want to be left alone while shopping, unless and until they need an employee’s help. Even when they do need assistance, the majority of shoppers prefer to use in-store technology to get their questions answered rather than talking to a person.
As consumers are getting more and more focused on experience, there is no doubt that self-service check out will disrupt the way consumers shop in stores in the future.
Whether or not to invest in this technology depends a lot on the Retail concept as well as the consumer shopping expectations to each Retail concept.