As retailers try to embed themselves into the lifestyles of their customer groups, some are using technology as an extra hook. It’s a smart move: tech represents a great opportunity for both retailers and tech entrepreneurs. Start-ups gain a partner to help them scale-up, while retailers can (re)capture their market’s attention (and share!).
Today, I’m going to look at some of the opportunities for start-ups and retailers to work together. By ‘slotting-in’ start-up tech, retailers can enhance their brand and the omnichannel experience.
Engagement from runway/launch to till
Of all the high street brands, Topshop has shown a particular drive to get into the palms and imaginations of their audience. Digital pervades end-to-end, from runway to till. Select looks from Topshop’s summer 2014 London Fashion Week show were premiered on social channels beforehand, while Instagram was used to both document the run up to the show (via five popular Instagrammers) and give customers the opportunity to see their own images and looks on giant digital screens in Topshop’s flagship store.
Looks from the Topshop show were then immediately available to buy in-store or online. And personal shoppers could include items from this line in their suggestions for customers, managed via Google Hangouts.
While the tech used might seem obvious – based on both corporate partnerships and popularity – it’s how the elements crossed over that caught my attention. We see various aspects of mobile tech used to create desire, then amplify, sustain and gratify it. All in a short space of time.
Start-ups can slot-in to provide value
Topshop demonstrates how retailers that design multiple experience touchpoints around their brand can strengthen their profile with consumers. Start-ups that are able to offer a clear solution that works in concert with a big brand’s other activities have a lot to gain.
So, how might other tech products ‘slot in’ to enhance brand experience?
Fitting services like Fits.me and Metail are great examples. The scalable online Fitting Room concept has an obvious benefit for online-only clothes stores. Yet Metail wisely courts traditional retailers too, detailing the broad benefits of knowing your customer’s measurements, and partnering with retailers from Tesco’s F&F to Warehouse to House of Holland.
More traditionally retail, Bespoky removes the guesswork from choosing a personal stylist in-store. A niche for big retailers and department stores, perhaps, but that start-up has a very clear slot-in proposition.
Start-ups can slot-in to provide pure retail services too. From HiperKinetic’s next-generation footfall and attention tracking to the ability to adjust prices rapidly and competitively with Market Hub.
Retailers still need omnichannel strategy
While start-ups can enable retailers to act quickly to engage and understand their consumers better, I believe that lasting value requires an omnichannel approach. Retailers must organise tactical use of technology around well-considered strategic principles. Although, this is not to say that tech cannot form the cornerstone of a business’s competitive advantage!
In summary, I am excited by the potential for more and deeper collaboration between established retailers and tech entrepreneurs. For consumers, physical and digital experiences can and do overlap, creating fuller and more personal connections with brands. And for retailers, any fuller understanding and visibility – whether that be of consumer preference or something altogether more logistical – can enhance strategic omnichannel decision-making.
But that is simply my opinion! What do you think? Talk to us @KPMGTechGrowth and share your thoughts.