ICXSummit15: Bringing 'social proof' to brick and mortar

| by Cherryh Cansler
ICXSummit15: Bringing 'social proof' to brick and mortar

The customer experience no longer starts at the front door, nor does it start in the parking lot or even at the register of a store or restaurant, Razorfish's Jason Goldberg said Monday morning during his opening keynote at the Interactive Customer Experience Summit in Chicago.

"We don't 'go' shopping anymore," he said. "We are always shopping."  

That's because consumers are digitally immersed at all times, Goldberg said, noting that a company's website is now its official "front door" and that online sites such as Wal-mart's are now the "front of the store" for thousands of brick-and-mortar locations. (To illustrate his point, Goldberg showed the audience a screengrab of the Wal-Mart homepage, which was at the time advertising steak – which Wal-Mart does not sell online, but only in-store.)

"The customer is always just one step away from any of our touchpoints," he said. "There's so little friction … We're shopping all the time."

So, Goldberg said, retailers and brands have to think about what works online and how to leverage that as "our new front door."

For instance, the rise of Internet retail has given rise to a shopping trend that is seriously undermining the efficacy of the best branding campaigns: "social proof." When sites such as Amazon offer customer reviews for products, or when other sites offer Q-and-A forums for shoppers to offer feedback on products — and Google links to those reviews — shoppers can now make decisions based on other people's experiences with a product, rather than on what brand has impressed them with its advertising.

"You can't win by having the best brand anymore," he said. "You have to win by having the best product … Because of Google, it's all about how good your product actually is."

Bringing "social proof" to brick-and-mortar locations

That's why brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants must find ways to bring "social proof" to their stores, and Goldberg believes technology is the way to do it.

"There's a huge opportunity to use technology to deliver it," he said.

A few retailers are nailing it already. Nordstrom Rack, for example, uses digital signage screens in stores to stream a live Instagram feed showing the photos consumers have posted of recent purchases. Other stores use shelf-level digital signage fact tags to display online ratings – and to quickly change prices to be more competitive.

Another store installed a screen that displayed its products featured on Wanelo, a site similar to Pinterest, that has easier shopping and purchase capabilities. Another store went more old-school and hung little tags over its products that "were most-pinned on Pinterest."

"The question to ask is, 'How do we bring the right technology to the front of the store?'" Goldberg said.

Avoid retailer ADD

Goldberg said it's easy to get caught up in technology for the sake of technology, which he referred to as "retailers with ADD" who often chase the latest or shiniest new toy. It happens when someone in the boardroom throws out a term like "beacon" or "app" and the rest of the staff scrambles to "check the box."

Retailers should start with a problem and look for a technology to solve it, not the other way around, said Goldberg, who said he saw that scenario when Best Buy implemented a new loyalty app that actually competed with its own initial loyalty app. The goal was to check the technology box, not solve a problem, he said. "That's never a good business decision."

Topics: Customer Experience, ICX Summit, Interactive / Touchscreen, Retail

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for FastCasual.com.

wwwView Cherryh Cansler's profile on LinkedIn

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