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Where is the in-store experience headed?

2020 was the year of extreme hypergrowth for ecommerce. It also saw the decline of several struggling retailers such as Lord & Taylor, Century 21, and Stein Mart. Given this, it would be easy to proclaim that in-store shopping has declined for good and is on its way out.

While in-store shopping seems to have shifted permanently, we’ve only seen the first wave of changes ushered into the in-store experience. Retailers that embrace technology, data insights, and innovation are the ones poised for success as the pandemic declines and stores reopen to the public. So what does that mean for retailers? Recent MIT research highlighted the various customer segments and their likelihood to return to in-store shopping. While some shoppers are reluctant to return (and probably didn’t enjoy shopping in the first place), the vast majority can still be enticed or even prefer the brick and mortar experience.

So what will make or break foot traffic for retailers as they see shoppers come back in store? Here are a few elements that we expect to see in the coming months and years:

  • Cleanliness & Hygiene Measures - This is table stakes and has already been addressed by retailers but we believe that trends such as contactless payments and foot traffic monitoring will continue to accelerate. One of our portfolio companies, Everyware, provides contactless payments between retailers and customers that are smartphone-agnostic. Not only can this expedite the in-store experience but can also streamline the curbside and BOPIS processes for retailers as well.

  • Immersive Experiences - Experiential shoppers, the largest segment from MIT’s research, is looking to gain the most out of the in-store experience including the ability to touch, interact, and discover new brands and products. Perch, another one of our portfolio companies leverages interactive displays and storytelling to provide an immersive experience for customers when interacting with products in store. Perch has already driven 30-80% product sales lift and 5-10x increased customer engagement for retailers and brands including brands such as Cover Girl, Neiman Marcus, and Johnson & Johnson.

  • Assistive Product Discovery - In the long term, as customers begin to interact with store clerks and sales reps again, the ability to recommend products and services for customers will be key. Pull Logic accomplishes this through its advanced supply chain software that can predict and recommend the best available items for a shopper during a large purchase such as bicycles, ATVs, or other high-end retail items. Retailers that embrace new technology in this space will provide a reason for shoppers to buy and buy again from their stores.

Given this shift in expectations, it’s only natural that tech and innovation will be at the forefront of the in-store experience. Tell us, what other trends, safety measures, and experiences would you like to see in stores in the future?

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