It was only a matter of time before brick & mortar retailers equipped their in-store shoppers with online buying capability — something I predicted would happen last January.
UK Retailer Marks & Spencer will soon be unveiling a new large touch-screen digital display technology that will let their in-store shoppers configure a room setting with images of furniture, appliances and other items the retailer sells. Then, with assistance from an in-store associate equipped with a tablet computer, the customer can completed the online purchase right then and there.
The initial roll-out will be at two of their UK stores, but if the test is successful, they’ll roll out the large digital displays (2 ft. x 3 ft.) to up to 85 of its stores that sell furniture.
Additionally, the displays will also allow the consumer to directly connect with a product expert via Live Chat.
If this all sounds familiar to you, it is. This is the exact idea I proposed last year in the article I wrote about Target trying to combat Showrooming:
Hey, I know!! What if Target put up some dedicated kiosks in their Undershirt (ok underwear too) department and offered direct online chat with a product expert – uh – like me! I’d know about every sku they offer in the category at that store, have samples of all them on hand, and be able to EFFECTIVELY help consumers make an informed in-store purchase.
How about we take that concept a step further. What if Target also formed additional partnerships with online-only retailers in select categories, and if the in-store consumer purchased from that online retail partner via that kiosk while in-store, then the online retailer would pay Target a commission for the sale. Think of it! No stock to carry, no logistics, no real overhead, no shelf-space competition. Just a pure revenue play for Target to increase it’s overall margin.
Or is that too crazy of an idea? Let’s see what happens.
Here’s the deal. If Marks & Spencer has been working on this type of technology, so are other retailers.
Although M&S has implemented this technology for furniture sales, it’s easily extensible to every other category of purchase, including Underwear and Undershirt sales.
Just you wait and see. Just tell them you read it here first.