The Global Wave Conference

The Global Wave Conference

Our very own Matthew Morey will be speaking next week at the Global Wave Conference in Santa Cruz. Last month we launched the Endangered Waves mobile app, which was awarded Best Conservation App in HeroX’s Big Ocean Button Challenge, sponsored by XPRIZE. Matt will be talking about how organizations can use technology to affect change.
The app’s goal is to mobilize the 30 million plus surfers to monitor their own coastlines and surf spots globally, using a smart phone’s camera technology to document threats to surfing spots and coastlines.
Matt will be joined by an incredible lineup of speakers including Chris Malloy, Greg Long, Guy Kawasaki, Liz Clark, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Serge Dedina and many more – all tackling the world’s most challenging ocean issues. Check out the case study for the Endangered Waves App.


Make It Pop! How to Build a Great Pop-Up Shop

Make It Pop! How to Build a Great Pop-Up Shop


By: Jeremy Duimstra

We’re always on the lookout for new ideas that will benefit our retail clients without mimicking trends that everyone else is already doing. Pop-Up Shops seem to be showing up everywhere in the retail space. This particular trend is one that we feel can be differentiated and wildly successful for retailers who use them as a highly effective retail testing platform.

Pop-Up Shops are a great idea in today’s retail ecosystem. There is significant empty retail real-estate right now, and landlords are much more willing to take on short-term leases than in the past. Retailers are generally looking to increase overall store traffic and brand affinity. These shops do just that. Pop-Up shops drive brand affinity by creating experiences that strengthen the relationship with each customer. Lesser known brands can use Pop-Up shops to inexpensively break into new markets and establish brand awareness.

New digital technologies have the power to enhance the experience and value of your Pop-Up. From shopper data capture for re-marketing to mobile app powered geolocation commerce experiences – digital experiences are powering the modern Pop-Up. With new, modern retail technology platforms and omni-channel commerce systems like Shopify and Square, launching a digitally enabled pop-up is a must for any retailers looking to offer unique customer experiences.

Some key factors that go into creating an effective Pop-Up Shop:

  • Unique, on-brand digital experiences draw in people and capture their attention. Narratives brought to life with motion graphics, touchscreen displays, and VR/AR experiences are good examples.
  • An easy to launch and use POS. This doesn’t need to integrate into your legacy ecommerce or ERP systems – speed and ease of use are key.
  • Ecommerce “activation” within your Pop-Up.  Go beyond a transaction – make purchasing a fun and interactive experience. Engaging product demos and unexpectedly convenient shipping options make all the difference.
  • Mobile Loyalty experiences: Consider exclusive geolocation product drops or personalized experiences for customers that are part of your loyalty program. Extend special offers to loyalty members after the Pop-Up to amplify your reach and content.
  • Tie your customer data capture into your Salesforce or Hubspot CRM systems for easy follow up marketing.
  • Speed: Pop-Ups give you localized speed in getting products in customer’s hands that can’t easily be matched by competitors.

Let’s go a bit deeper into a few of these experiences:

Nike's “Rio Unlimited” engages visitors with an on-brand digital art installation exuding "the ecstasy of competitive glory."

Brand Promise

It is extremely important to include your brand promise in a Pop-Up Shop rather than just creating something cool and full of whiz-bang technology. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t go too in-depth here, but there is a tremendous opportunity to craft an experience in a Pop-Up that accentuates and furthers what you stand for as a brand. A Pop-Up that relies only on hot new technology will fail if it does not resonate with your customer. The experiences that are compelling for your customers may or may not include new technology such as AR/VR, Magic Mirrors, Instant Checkout – the list goes on. The technology you choose to use should help you tell your brand story, delight your customer, and create a frictionless purchasing path. These things are essential both within the shop itself and throughout the entire customer journey.

The Customer Journey

Before the Store

A great Pop-Up Shop will engage your guests at each step in their customer journey. Before the shop experience, they need to hear about it, be incentivized to visit, get excited about it, and hopefully share it with their friends and family. These things can happen via your website, your mobile app, social channels, on-and-offline marketing and ideally through some buzz-worthy guerrilla marketing. The Nike’s Maker’s of the Game Pop Up Store during the 2018 All-Star Weekend used their mobile app to tease the Air Jordan “Tinker” exclusive sneaker and dropped them at a specified time and location. Upon finding the shoes, customers used the app to complete the purchase, and share their score with legions of other Nike fans.

In-Store

While in the store we find that customers love two types of technology: Personalized digital experiences, and software/hardware that allows frictionless purchasing. We’re also finding that adding a human element to digital tools can greatly enhance the experience. When you give customers the ability to describe a challenge they are experiencing, and use that challenge to customize a product that will solve their problem before they arrive at the store – you create an unforgettable experience. The digital tools that we’ve built and are currently testing are proving that this method improves customer satisfaction and increases revenue.

The ability to purchase things quickly is also crucial while in the shop. Technology can help in this arena. Many clients that we work with have legacy POS or e-Commerce engines that don’t work effectively in a Pop-Up environment. A Pop-Up shop can be a place for retailers to experiment and play with new ideas. Generally, we recommend using off-the-shelf solutions like Square or Masterpass to enable transactions in a Pop-Up rather than shoe-horning enterprise systems into this environment.

After Store

After shopping it is vital to follow up with customers using loyalty programs, invite them to share the experience, and make it clear how they can return items. Having an established return policy is important. Customers worry that Pop-Up shops will disappear and they will be stuck with what they bought. This can lead them to not make a purchase at all. Giving customers the option to return items easily and free of charge will abate those fears.

Speed

Speed, in our opinion, is the primary driving force behind innovative disruption in retail. Amazon is faster than almost anyone else at getting things to your doorstep as soon as you buy. However, being physically there is even faster than that. This is a significant reason why two-thirds of millennials shop in stores every week. That said, it’s hard to “be physically there” everywhere, and a Pop-Up Shop can help with that. Interested in testing a new market? Pop-Up. Wondering what would happen if you sold a single product line right down the street from your existing store? Pop-Up. You get the picture. Pop-Ups give you tremendous speed in getting in front of your customers and getting them products. 

Indochino Pop-Ups epitomize Omni-channel by measuring customers in-store and letting them complete their purchase online.

Technology

From a technology standpoint, we recommend using software platforms that are API driven. Pop-Ups are prototype testing opportunities, and that includes the software. Luckily, almost all modern systems have APIs that make it easy for POS/e-Commerce/Inventory/Loyalty/etc. to talk to each other. If you’re thinking that what I just described sounds a lot like the golden goose that we’re all striving for – omnichannel – you’re right! A Pop-Up is a fantastic place to test omnichannel experiences outside of what is likely a more rigid corporate IT environment. We’ve had great success building omnichannel experiences for retailers in a test shopping environment that eventually get rolled out to the broader enterprise.

In Summary

As a digital innovation agency, we have always put a significant emphasis on designing, prototyping, and testing fast/early/often. Pop-Up Shops are the epitome of that philosophy in physical retail locations. When done well, wrapped in your brand promise, outfitted with applicable digital technology, and speedy, they can show you the path to success in all of your store locations. If you’re interested in creating a Pop-Up, drop us a line. We are currently working with multiple store design, architecture firms, and general contractors on building Pop-Ups around the country, and we’d love to help you do the same.


Technology and In-Store Associates Can Be a Match Made in Retail Heaven: Here's How to Get It Right

Technology and In-Store Associates Can Be a Match Made in Retail Heaven: Here’s How to Get It Right


By: Jeremy Duimstra

Digital media and connected devices may be all the rage, but even the snazziest of retail initiatives will fall flat if they’re not backed by human interactions and customer service.

That’s why one of the best things you can do for your business in 2019 and beyond is to invest in your workforce. Study after study has shown that today’s consumers — even the young and tech-savvy millennials — crave human interactions when dealing with brands.

According to PwC, customers will pay up to 16% more for a better customer experience and 75% want more human interaction. Not only that, but consumers won’t hesitate to turn their backs on a brand whose employees provide abysmal customer service.

“Globally, consumers would stop doing business with a company due to unfriendly service (60%), unknowledgeable employees (46%),” according to the study. What’s more, 32% “would walk away from a brand they love after a single bad experience.”

Millennials are even less forgiving. Research from Morning Consult found that “Poor customer service is the easiest way to lose brand loyalty” among Gen Y consumers. The study found  74% of millennials would be less likely to purchase from a brand they’re loyal to if customer service wasn’t up to snuff.

Make no mistake: the human beings in your stores will continue to play a critical role in driving traffic, loyalty, and sales. But you need to enable them with the right technologies, so can they wow your customers and provide amazing retail experiences.

Balance your digital initiatives with a human touch

While hi-tech commerce experiences will continue gaining steam, they won’t go far without the help of real people. See to it that you have friendly and capable human beings to facilitate your digital initiatives.

Consider the case of The Container Store.

The retailer teamed up with MJD to launch The Organization Studio, an interactive design tool and digital experience that helps customers organize their space.

Here’s how it works: Customers would upload a photo or video of their organizational challenge (e.g., a messy room or closet) into The Organization Studio. After that, they schedule an in-store appointment with a live Organization Expert, so they can see the products and consult with a real person. The Organization Expert’s role is to come up with a personalized organization solution for the shopper free of charge and with no purchase commitment.

What’s interesting about this initiative is that it originally didn’t involve live Organization Experts. We initially envisioned customers taking photos, videos and measurements of their organization challenge, then uploading them to an app or website. Then, a machine learning algorithm would create a digital solution board filled with products that would solve the problem.

It was a solid concept, but we felt that it had something missing: the human element.

So, we introduced the Organization Expert into the equation and got positive feedback in user testing. The warmth of the human interaction along with the relationship between the customer and expert were key to the digital experience.  

The takeaway: Physical retail environments perform far better when digital tools enhance — not replace – human interactions. Keep this in mind the next time you’re designing a new program or app. Having real people supporting your digital initiatives will not only enrich the experience, it will also drive better results.

Listen to your team’s tech concerns

If your technology efforts are plagued by poor adoption rates and inefficiencies, consider focusing less on tech and more on the people operating them: your employees.

Turns out, your staff — especially those on the front lines — can have valuable input about your tech. And if you listen to them, the results might astound you.

Just ask Best Buy. As part of its efforts to turn the business around, the company conducted “hundreds and hundreds” of one-on-one interviews with its staff about usability problems around technology and applications.

According to Retail Dive, those interviews helped identify employee pain points and influenced Best Buy’s move to redesign its systems and introduce new technologies in its stores.

One of the key results of the effort was Best Buy cutting its POS transaction time in half.

Speaking at a conference, Timothy Embretson, the director at user experience at Best Buy, explained that the move improved both store efficiency and the customer experience.

The move allowed “associates to spend less time typing on keyboards or holding tablets, and reinvest that time to connect with the customer experiences so that we don’t end up cutting labor or anything like that,” he said.

Use technology to enhance employee training

Have you thought about how valuable tech can be when it comes to educating your associates? New and emerging technologies are making their way into retail training programs, and forward-thinking retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Take Walmart, which is now using virtual reality headsets to train its employees. The company tested the technology in 2017 at Walmart Academies, then decided to roll out the initiative to all its locations in the US by sending its stores Oculus VR headsets.

And while the outcomes of the wider roll-out haven’t been released, the retailer says that its tests at Walmart Academies delivered promising results.

“When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation. We’ve also seen that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent – even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts,” said Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart U.S. Academies.

Now, does this mean you should start outfitting your team with VR headsets? Maybe, maybe not. The only way to figure it out is to evaluate your practices and identify outdated processes or steps. Then, test different technologies and see what yields the best results.

The bottom line

Technology and your employees can certainly be a match made in retail heaven, but it takes work to make it to that level. You need to need to gather the right data, take risks, and test various initiatives to determine how to best use tech in your retail stores.

And here’s the good news: you don’t have to do it alone. While retail giants such as Walmart or Best Buy can certainly take on large technology challenges, many retailers would benefit more by teaming up with a digital innovation agency.

The right partner can assist you in bringing your tech visions to life — whether it’s through ideation, testing, design, implementation or all of the above.

Looking for a team who can help with technology and digital innovation? Get in touch with MJD Interactive. We’d love to hear from you!