Insider Trends: The age of 'post-digital retail'

Advances in backend technologies have ushered in a new dawn for the retail sector as the industry becomes accustomed to today’s omni-channel world, according to Trotter. 

“For years technology has been this barrier between the customer and the brand, and now it is becoming so sophisticated it is disappearing into the background, so a customer can walk into a space that feels really low tech but is actually really sophisticated because it is informed invisibly by tech,” says Trotter. “I’m calling this post-digital retail. It is a whole new way of thinking about technology.”

Post-digital retail

Trotter highlights how this philosophy is now possible through a range of new technologies and is being implemented by a number of forward-thinking brands. 

These technologies include Sprucebot, which describes itself as a ‘guest experience bot’, and Proximity Insight, and a UK-based app for store assistants.

Trotter describes SpruceBot as a “posh CRM system” that shares a customer’s online shopping profile with store assistants in order to allow them to have an “informed human conversation” with them in-store.  It also includes payment functionality to allow checkout-free transactions. 

“The beauty of the handshake checkout with SpruceBot is it does not really need any tech in the store,” says Trotter. 

Meanwhile, Proximity Insight’s ‘customer hub’ works in a similar fashion by allowing shop assistants to review past interactions from every channel in order to improve the shopping experience for a customer. 

“I’m a big fan of ecosystems that gather information about customers across all of these touchpoints and use them to optimise the experience in every channel,” says Trotter. 

Farfetch is one such retailer working with partners with a physical retail presence such as Chanel in order to implement such functionality. 

Trotter believes another good example of what she defines as a post-digital brand is MM.LaFleur, which sells workwear for women. 

MM.LaFleur offers both online and offline personal styling and uses data from online to inform the in-store experience. 

When a customer books an appointment the retailer uses online browsing information and history of past orders and returns to pick out the right clothes for a customised fitting room experience with a personal stylist.  

“I’ve been waiting for a brand to completely rethink the shopping experience so a customer does not have to walk up and down rows and rows of product picking things up themselves,” says Trotter. “They just walk straight up to fitting room and are given a drink and can try on clothes with a nice stylist.”  

In addition, the retailer allows customers to send the clothes to their home if it is easier than them carrying the clothes home themselves.  

Tech to alleviate economic pressures

At a time of squeezed margins it is difficult for retailers to know what tech to prioritise, but Trotter argues that tech implementation can actually help alleviate pressure on margins. 

She says the Starbucks app is an example of this because allowing customers to order by mobile before they arrive at the store has increased sales, while at the same time reduced operating costs because less people are now needed to take customer orders at the till. 

“It is all moving towards being faster, more flexible and simpler,” concludes Trotter. 

What’s Hot on Essential Retail?