The tremendous growth of technology over the last two decades has benefited society in many ways, and one of the most promising applications of more advanced technology is in changing the offline shopping experience of customers. Already, many high-end shopping centres in China and the U.S. have implemented smart technologies in a bid to attract more customers with great success.
Traditional shopping centres face a huge challenge from online shopping, and one of the ways they can meet such a challenge is to become more experience-focused by making use of the available technology. By focusing more on the customer experience instead of trying to offer the widest selection of stores with the largest quantities of products, shopping centres stay relevant and appealing to customers.
The following article covers some of the best smart technologies that shopping centres can make use of to enhance the customer experience and remain an attractive option to customers.
Smart Glass Technology
Switchable smart glass is an innovative modern building material made from electrochromic glass that allows users to alter the properties of the glass when an electric current is applied to it. This switchable glass technology can be used in windows, partitions, roofs, and skylights. With switchable glass, users can control the amount of light, heat, or glare that passes through the glass, making for more comfortable, private, and aesthetically pleasing indoor spaces.
Hotels represent one of the primary commercial users of switchable smart glass, but an increasing number of shopping centres and showrooms are incorporating the technology to create better experiences for their customers. Individual retail outlets also find that electric glass benefits their business because of the availability of full privacy at the click of a switch, which is important for stores such as salons, clothes retailers, and private medical practices such as doctors, medical consultants & dentists.
An additional application of switchable glass technology is its use as a high-definition projection screen. A specialist optical film is applied to the electric glass, and users can then transform the glass into a projection screen at the click of a switch, changing it from transparent to opaque. The switchable film blends seamlessly into any modern building interior, making it ideal for shopping centres to improve the customer experience by displaying videos showing the best deals in its stores or other promotional media.
Another unique application of switchable glass is found in its energy-saving capabilities. Solar smart glass is a form of electric glass that allows users to control solar glare and optimize the amount of light passing through the glass. The end result of incorporating solar smart glass in shopping centres is an aesthetically pleasing interior that also cuts down on costs. During warmer months, solar smart glass reduces the need for air conditioning when compared to traditional glass materials because the solar glare can be controlled.
During colder months, there is a reduced need for heating because the glass allows buildings to maximize daylight, thus keeping the interior warmer.
As a roofing material, switchable glass offers some stunning benefits to customers who can admire the night sky while shopping. The availability of such breath-taking views improves the customer experience by offering something that simply isn’t available when shopping online.
Touch Screen Platforms
Touch screen maps and guides have become commonplace in many shopping centres over the last five to ten years, but some shopping centres and retailers are taking their use of touch screen technology to the next level, improving the customer experience in the process.
Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo store is one store that has elevated the customer experience by implementing an interactive dressing room. In this outlet, the dressing room doubles as a personal shopping assistant, which suggests alternative designs and colors for clothes, and allows customers to check the stock of store items.
Another impressive use of smart touch screen technology in shopping centres is evident in Westfield Corporation’s San Francisco mall, which has a real-world version of the popular smartphone game Angry Birds at its shopping centre. Customers can enter a booth and play Angry Birds using a pair of Samsung Virtual Reality goggles.
Bloomingdale’s, the popular Manhattan clothing store, implemented a “clothing to-go window” with great success recently. Passers-by could tap a touchscreen pad on the window, which would then interactively display the selected clothing item behind the window. This innovative use of a touch screen shows how smart technology can add a sense of theatre to the shopping experience.
Interactive apps are a great way to personalize the shopping centre experience and make it more attractive to customers. Such apps provide the opportunity for stores to leverage modern technology to communicate easily with potential customers and promote products.
Businesses can send “come in” messages via an app when users are near their stores. Shopping centres can use apps to provide interactive maps, highlight must-visit stores, and allow users to read about different stores. Furthermore, personal promotions, daily offers, and Christmas shopping list features can be implemented to boost sales throughout the shopping centre.
By incorporating smart technology, the shopping centre of the future becomes a remarkably different place that focuses on the overall experience of the customer. Using technology such as switchable glass technology, futuristic touch screen platforms, and interactive apps, smart shopping centres can compete with the convenience of online shopping by providing a certain experience that online retailers cannot match.