A Tale of Two Retail Dynasties: The eCommerce and In-Store Realms Merge to Create the Digital Store of the Future

Paul Milner

Throughout history we’ve seen plenty of blockbuster rivalries in business that have changed the course of various industries. Over the past decade, the clash of the eCommerce and brick & mortar “dynasties” to gain consumer interest has certainly been one for the record books. However, while some rivalries may never be settled, we’re beginning to see eCommerce and physical stores come together for the sake of their common interest: customer engagement. While newly crowned “digital stores” are testing and implementing different types of technologies in the store, their overarching goal is the same: to revolutionize the in-store experience through digital means.

In recent months, several retailers have started testing unique store concepts that incorporate digital elements. Below are a few examples of the merging of these two retail realms:

Nordstrom’s New Merchandise-Free Local Shop

The retailer recently opened a 3,000 square-foot concept shop in Los Angeles, focused on services and personalization. Nordstrom’s Local Shop is merchandise-free store, offering free consultations with stylists, but with a digital twist. Employees have tablets that allow them to help shoppers build Pinterest-like inspiration boards with their favorite looks. Before the customer’s appointment, a virtual pin board can be sent to a mobile device allowing the stylist to request an array of options that fit that customer’s style profile – and have those items delivered to a nearby Nordstrom store.

Nike’s Immersive Experience Store in New York’s SoHo Neighborhood

In its 55,000 square-foot store spread across five floors, Nike has created a truly immersive experience store that is completely connected. For example, on the running floor, shoppers can try out any of the store’s shoes on a specialized treadmill with cameras that track running patterns and strides. Not only that, it can also recall the last time a customer got on the store's treadmill, and it will know which shoes a customer tried on last time they were in the store. The space also hosts a half-court basketball testing area, complete with a screen that projects the scenery of iconic New York City basketball courts, and cameras above to track performance.

Target Launches “myCheckout” for Online Transactions in the Store

Just recently, Target announced a new app called “myCheckout” for store associates that will allow them to process online transactions on the customer’s behalf, including taking payments from the store’s floor when merchandise is unavailable locally. If a Target shopper can’t find an item in the size or color (or if the item itself is sold out before the next expected shipment), myCheckout allows Target employees to place an online order for the customer. The store associate can then have the product shipped directly to the customer’s home.

Lowe’s Debuts Virtual Reality Displays

In several of its locations, Lowe’s allows shoppers to use virtual reality in its in-store kitchen display. The area, which is essentially a corner with basic wooden fixtures, allows shoppers to mix-and match countertops, cabinets and appliances with virtual reality glasses by using their fingertips to choose from a menu of options.

In the near future, we will continue to see the eCommerce world become more and more embedded with the brick and mortar world. It is no longer a matter of “if” it will happen, but “when” the joining of these two battle-tested retail dynasties will become the absolute norm. The sooner it happens the better, though. According to a recent survey conducted by Brightpearl, poor technology decisions (leading into the holidays) could cost retailers more than an estimated $300,000 in lost profit – and that is only during a 2-3 month period!

So far, the true tale of revolutionizing the store experience through innovative technology has been full of action and wonder. It will be exciting to see how the next chapters will unfold in the coming months.


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Our Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) bring the shelf-edge into the Internet of Things era, helping to create shopping experiences that are more engaging, rewarding and personalised – and profitable. We help retailers optimise sales and margin at the shelf-edge, where 90% of purchases are still made.

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