Future of Retail is Social

76% of People Interact with a Product or Service Before Stepping Foot Inside of a Store. 

Wow! That's an incredible number than needs to be unpacked. So, people are already familiar with the product they want, have done research, experienced the product and have decided to come into the store to perhaps buy it. At the same time, they are "Mob-aisling" (comparative in-aisle mobile shopping) to see if they can get more info, better pricing while in store. It's like a Tinder date, you think you know what you are in for, but you need to experience the real life version before you take any next steps, at the same time you are also looking for better options...

The physical and digital worlds are almost merged as one now and this will only get stronger. The next frontier for retailers and challenges for interaction designers is how to develop experiences that combine retail, collaborative play and community. Stores should work like centers of the community, bringing together people you want to see, meet and collaborate with and products that inspire you to purchase them. Some of the good ones like the Apple Store have already figured it out,  and others are just catching on, but the key to retail environments today is Social Interaction. Humans are social and we need to be around each other and play, buy stuff and also be connected to our digital world at the same time.

To change retail behaviors, first you have to identify the habits you want to change. Then you have to design a physical, digital and social experience that is exciting, insight driven, a relevant story connected to your brand and most important, changes what people do in your store and why they come there to begin with.  If any part of the experience is off, the experience is lit without purpose, branding is ambiguous,  digital interaction is complicated and the staff is not trained properly, you can bet that people will find a better place to spend their money.