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Monday, March 07, 2011

Retailers Integrate iPad Into Shopping Experience

In June 2010, David Polinchock and I visited several retail stores in SoHo to experience the shopping and observe how retailers were integrating technology into their customer interactions. Guess what we encountered? iPads!

One store we visited was All Saints Spitalfields, a very recent retail addition from the UK, open barely one month yet which included the then just-introduced iPad. The All Saints SoHo store representative graciously agreed to our taking  pictures of the store [unlike the experience that David had later with a group of students].

Fast Company Magazine in Marching In described All Saints Spitalfield as sitting "at the high end of affordable, with lower prices than major fashion houses but more exclusivity than Zara and H&M... in a narrow aesthetic - you'd better like black and gray."  Furthermore, the inside of the store "-- brick, iron, weathered wood -- complements the garments."

However, All Saints stands out by offering "an abundance of pleats, gatherings, and figure-forgiving loose fabrics that are somehow 'still sexy'."

What impressed us is that the sales associate who greeted us as we entered was wearing All Saints garments and readily talked about them and the new store.
Interestingly, the store included a computer kiosk which didn't work [often an issue in stores].

Just a few steps away was an iPad device displayed vertically which did work and created an engaging tool for browsing and purchasing product online - and one that looked less prone to technical malfunctions.

According to ChicagoTribune.com, we'll be seeing a great deal more integration of the iPad into the retail shopping experience. As stated in Retailers tap into iPad hoping device with help you buy, "merchants from Gucci to J.C. Penney are experimenting."

Furthermore, "this is not going to be a novelty. It's going to be a sea change in how retailers transact and interact with customers."

Strong words!

The article details possibilities such as mobile catalog, gathering customer data, a portable cash register, a tool to allow customers to update social networks while experiencing the store/product, a means for 'bending time' when customers are waiting and creating a connection between them and the brand, a way to improve the customer experience, a product comparison tool, the means to customizing product and experiencing the final iteration before purchase, and even viewing runway shows.

All Saints Spitalfields: chair by changing rooms
Chair by changing rooms

All Saints Spitalfields Shoe Display
Shoe display

All Saints Spitalfields Cash Wrap Desk
Cash wrap desk

As you hear more about the iPad - and other tablets - and start to see them in action, how might you envision them being integrated into your customer shopping experience?

I'd love to hear!

P.S.:  Be sure to check out AdAge Digital's How the iPad iIs Resharping E-commerce. Note that women represent the fastest growing segment of early iPad adopters! Makes the retail experience implications a lot more interesting, don't you think?

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