The idea that “Retail isn’t dead, it needs a revival” is both affecting and true. With brick-and- mortar accounting for more than 90 percent of retail sales in Q4 2017, it’s clear that there is plenty of opportunity for these businesses to thrive and not just fade away.
The challenges that brick-and-mortar establishments face are also abundantly clear as legacy retailers like Sears, JCPenney and Toys-R-Us wrestle with store closings and potential bankruptcies. In the meantime, leaders like Phillip Raub – the mind behind the quote above – are bringing renewed vision to the retail customer experience that hints at a lucrative path forward.
As Founder and President of b8ta, Raub and his fellow alums at connected home manufacturer Nest have established a blueprint for brickand-mortar success. In a re-imagination of the “try before you buy” model, b8ta’s multi-sensory, tactile approach to customer engagement has attracted plenty of shoppers to their brick-and-mortar stores. They have also developed a winning strategy with the manufacturers they represent in their stores by allowing them to keep 100 percent of their sales.
“At Nest, we had a perception that the retail environment doesn’t necessarily have the manufacturer’s best interest in mind. It all seemed very transactional in nature,” said Raub. “We recognized the need for stronger relationships between the retailer and the maker, and in fact believed that the retailer’s role should shrink. The goal of retail should be to connect the consumer and the maker. People shop because they have a brand affinity, or have a particular product need, so bringing the consumer and the maker together is what creates a better retail experience.”
A large part of b8ta’s early success – the company launched its first store in 2015 and has quickly grown to nine – is owed to its re-imagination of the in-store customer experience from the eyes of marketing executives. With software-driven displays, hands-on demos and a highly trained staff, shoppers have found b8ta’s business model to be inviting and consumer-friendly.
For consultants and systems integrators, understanding the language of those you are selling to is paramount to winning customer experience projects that bring digital signage and other technologies and services together. Increasingly, the decisions on who wins these projects are driven through marketing teams as opposed to IT departments.
As keynote speaker at the upcoming Digital Experience (DX) Forum at this year’s Digital Signage Expo, Raub will share his vision of the customer experience, and how it aligns with what today’s marketing executives in brick and mortar seek. Specifically, “Meet Your New Client: The CMO,” will offer detailed insights into how service providers should pivot their digital solutions. Rather than focusing on the technology itself, the presentation will demonstrate the benefits of using an elevated approach that is focused on the customer experience, user engagement and business outcomes.
“Physical retail is transforming, and our role is to create an environment and experience that meets the need of the end consumer,” said Raub. “It comes back to identifying how the retailer’s business model supports that transformation, and how the in-store experience is set up to support the ever-changing needs of the consumer.”
To that end, Raub points to the evolution of digital signage and data capture as two specific tools that retailers can leverage to engage with customers and understand behaviors.
“Digital signage has finally arrived at a place where customers are engaging with the medium,” he said. “It has to offer meaningful content that people find relevant to their shopping experience. However, this is only part of the ecosystem. On the backend, marketers and executives want to capture data that helps them understand exactly what is engaging their customers, and making sure the brand has access to that information. Brands want greater control, and we now have the technology, software and capability to drive real-time content and capture data in ways that simply weren’t possible before.”
This year’s Digital Experience Forum, produced and moderated by the expert practitioners at HighStreet Collective, takes place Tuesday, March 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Room S225), beginning with Raub’s opening keynote address. The complete schedule and registration information can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/ybwaduym.