Thinking Beyond Smartphones: Building In-Store Experiences

Brands have a unique opportunity to deliver compelling in-venue experiences. However, they must look beyond their mobile apps in order to build experiences that compel visitors to look up, not down, and engage in-store.

We are finding that the in-venue, digital experience is a powerful tool to deliver demonstrably richer interactions. In assessing what is working well across venue categories, we see four powerful models for breaking out of the face-to-phone lockstep. These examples take advantage of the reality that venue operators may control their floors, walls, and employees more than they do their customers’ mobile phones.


The network: SportChek’s digital transformation

Sometimes it requires an ambitious redesign to deliver on a vision. Coming off a number two rating in the 2014 SapientNitro “In-Store Digital Retail Study,” Canadian retailer SportChek doubled-down on in-store digital, completely gutting and rehabbing their West Edmonton flagship store. In the end, they installed 470 digital screens and integrated touch, gesture, translucent displays, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology into the in-store experience.

In its first full year of operation (2014-2015 YTD), the store posted a 50 percent year-on-year sales growth, and SportChek is seeing a similar trend at its just-opened, similarly-configured Vancouver location.

SportChek’s West Eadmonton flagship store features 470 screens and has seen a50 percent year-over-year sales growth through 2015.


The West Edmonton store renovation added 21,000 square feet, and now allows customers to experience the products in-use with dedicated spaces for a video gait analysis tool, dynamic bicycle fitting, a climbing treadmill, and a golf simulator.

“Digitizing the store is about redefining the experience to create value for the customer,” SportChek’s VP of Digital Solutions, Frederic Lecoq, noted.

Lecoq’s five keys:

1. Content is key in the new media world.

2. Move from broadcast to unicast by replacing print flyers with digital flyers.

3. Every impression should be the result of a calculation.

4. ROI and spending effectiveness — not marketing spend — drive the business.

5. Remodel the POS into point of experience.


“The future of retail is all about content, data, and connectivity. Be nice to your tech people,” Lecoq concluded.


The connector: Target’s gift registry

Driving additional sales should be a top goal when it comes to next-generation in-store tools. Target’s latest generation of registry tools does just that, enabling guests to easily create and maintain baby, wedding, and college lists for themselves, family, and friends.

Target’s gift registry kiosk allows guests to manage their online baby and wedding registries, while also connecting them to sales associates.


Launched in 2014, the Target Registry app runs on iPad Minis and is installed in more than half of Target’s stores nationwide. Guests can set up their device in-store or at home, and then use their own device or scanners placed on dedicated carts to maintain their shopping lists. Sales associates offer personalized help to guests in the baby registry locations.

While specific ROI numbers are not publicly available, the registries have been successful enough to push the new platform from pilot to nationwide rollout.


The lure: Best Buy’s Samsung Gear VR Experience

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is,” Morpheus notes in the 1999 film The Matrix, “you have to see it for yourself.” Virtual reality (VR) is an experience that is difficult to describe unless you’ve put on the goggles. Available in select Best Buy stores nationwide, the Samsung Gear VR Experience allows customers to demo the Gear VR headset paired with a Samsung phone.

Target’s gift registry kiosk allows guests to manage their online baby and wedding registries, while also connecting them to sales associates.


Best Buy’s survival in the highly competitive home electronics space is dependent on convincing tech-savvy customers to visit its web and physical properties regularly, and to convert them while they are there. Demonstrating the latest in gaming and entertainment technology – from VR to the latest TVs – is a key element of Best Buy’s strategy.

In-store technology like VR is particularly important for getting visitors further into the store and for making the store more of a destination for its younger, connected customers.


The informant: Ionos platform

Navigating large stores and complex venues (such as airports, stadiums, and hotels) can be daunting experiences. And people are not always comfortable asking for help when faced with new or complex environments. Large-scale displays can provide interactive wayfinding and general information, as well as branded communications.

In-venue touchscreen technology like this display at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, not only provides context and location-aware recommendations,but also provides real-time data on traffic volume, age, and gender.


With beacons and Bluetooth technology, these screens now have an active dimension, directly reminding passersby of a range of options. Better yet, those message programs can be intelligently segmented by demographics, driving new behaviors in data-driven ways – all while delivering a much-needed customer service.

This is an exciting time for retailers and operators to get aggressive and embrace the opportunity. To read more about the limits of a mobile-only strategy, a series of new technologies, and what it takes to carpe venue, download the full article PDF.

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Related Keywords
  • Retail
  • Hospitality
  • Digital Experience
  • Innovation
  • Emerging Technologies
  • eBusiness & Channel Strategy
  • In-Venue Experience
  • Application Development