Aldo is trialing new in-store technology in a bid to join up the online and offline world and to provide consumers “with more context and inspiration”.
The Canadian footwear and accessories brand is showcasing its ‘endless shelf’ technology at this year’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
The pilot programme, which leverages components of Salesforce, includes customer-facing iPads and mobile apps that are connected to in-store sales staff.
There are currently of the iPads in 26 stores, with the app set to roll out across 165 outlets by the end of this year ahead of a further roll-out through 2017. The UK currently does not have endless shelf iPad technology in any of its stores, but it does have the associate application in its stores.
Ian Richards, VP of CRM at Aldo Group, told Marketing Week one of the brand’s main challenges is that not enough customers know what to wear with its products. Using the iPad, they can now browse different “looks” and see associated products.
“We’re hoping to contextualise our products by showing what they could wear with them and provide inspiration,” he said.
Once a customer finds something they like, they can request to try it on via the application, which notifies in-store sales staff via a push notification. Staff can then help them, while another member – known as a runner – can find the product in the stockroom.
“It’s a much better customer experience. In the past, sales associates used to run out and come back with all the boxes. Now they don’t leave the customer’s side.”
Kamyar Arjomand, director of innovation and mobility, Aldo Group
The digital features are part of a wider ‘omni-channel’ programme, which will run for three to six months and are benchmarked against “strict” KPIs including engagement and sales conversion.
Battling falling in-store footfall
Through the new technology, Aldo hopes to merge its online and offline elements. Richards says that in-store traffic is generally declining, which is why the brand has to “better serve” customers when they do make it through their doors. For example, its associate application uses online browsing data to make further recommendations on other types of products consumers might like.
“The days of people walking around a shopping centre for six hours are steadily disappearing. People browse online and are more educated in terms of what they want, which is why it’s important you have a rich ecommerce experience and leverage that [digital] data to better serve the customers when they come in-store,” he explained.
“It’s very early days in terms of [Aldo] doing that. It’s challenging to bring that digital world into a retail environment in a seamless way, but it’s what we’re focused on doing.”
Kamyar Arjomand, director of innovation and mobility at Aldo Group, added:
“It’s a delicate balance. You don’t want to overwhelm consumers with technology in-store, but when they’re coming in more prepared, you want to help the associates better serve the customers.
“Through this technology we are giving our employees the power to better serve customers, and not simply giving customers more digital screens in store.”
Arjomand explained that the brand does not see technology as a replacement for in-store employees, and claimed that “putting screens next to products alone doesn’t drive sales”.
He concluded: “Previous trials have shown that actually customers won’t interact with the screens [if placed on their own in store]. Technology should never compete or replace the human aspect, but instead empower our sales associates and help them strengthen their relationship with customer – which is what we hope to accomplish with the connected store experience and associate app,” he said.