Mystery shoppers can ensure in-store technology works its magic

Retailers are differentiating themselves through in-store technology aimed at enhancing customers' experiences.

In the competitive world of retail, businesses are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves. With increasing frequency, they're doing this through in-store technology aimed at enhancing customers' experiences. Yet, how do retailers know that they're using innovative brick-and-mortar digital gadgets most effectively? Since the technology is interactive and is meant for customer use, it's imperative that it works. Otherwise, it becomes an expensive investment that may end up detracting from customer satisfaction rather than delighting shoppers.

Interactive mirror, mirror on the wall
A recent article for Retail Customer Experience indicated that the national retailer Neiman Marcus installed a digital mirror at one of its locations in California. Officially called the MemoryMirror, the technology captures images and videos of the articles of clothing that customers try on. The mirror is placed outside of fitting room areas so that shoppers can create a catalog of outfits that they can compare side by side.

"Superior customer service starts with a great overall experience," explained Wanda Gierhart, chief marketing officer for Neiman Marcus. "The Memory Mirror allows our customers to capture a variety of still and video images that can be shared with friends and allow the customer to see how an outfit looks front and back and while moving."

As Gierhart mentioned, shoppers can distribute pictures and videos of themselves with particular clothes on through social medial and email so they can get the opinions of their friends and family members. Another feature of the mirror that customers may look forward to is personalized suggestions from sales staff.

Striving to remain competitive
According to Forrester Research analyst Adam Silverman in an article on the Cisco blog, the most promising technologies are those that bring greater efficiency or convenience to in-store shopping. Touch screen terminals throughout stores that allow customers to scan products' UPC labels to show price and whether there are any related promotions will likely perform better in enhancing in-store experiences.

Meanwhile, interactive mirrors like the one installed in Neiman Marcus are expected to increase in popularity. As part of the Internet of Everything, these tools are expected to generate $1.6 trillion in revenue and savings over the next 10 years, Cisco wrote. Technology that breaks down the walls between physical and digital experiences are in especially strong positions to improve the retail industry.

Ensure everything works as expected
Although there's a lot of promise in integrating cutting edge technology in retail locations, businesses also have to guarantee that these tools function properly. As customer-facing staff focus on providing excellent service to shoppers, it's critical that a resource like an interactive mirror or touchscreen device works flawlessly.

A mystery shopping company can help stores find out whether the technology performs as the supplier indicated. If a customer uses the interactive screen and can't share images with his or her friends on a social network, the shopper may become less engaged and attribute the fault to the company, which damages the brand image. Additionally, it's important to find out if customers service workers are able to troubleshoot any issues with the devices, ensuring shoppers remain the priority.