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    5 Brands With the Best Digital Experiences

    January 8, 2024
    11 minute read
    5 Brands With the Best Digital Experiences

    The once-mythical world of retail in which physical shopping is fueled by digital tech is already a reality. In fact, it’s the basis of omnichannel marketing, which calls for excellent in-store digital experiences that blend seamlessly into those online. 

    The brands that really get it have made it their business for years now. And the opportunity cost of not being omnichannel is a 10% loss in revenue, according to Invoca.

    As it turns out, customers clearly enjoy — and expect — digital access whenever they engage with your brand, no matter where they are in the buying journey.

    No matter where they shop, consumers want to see and understand products before they buy them. But they also want the convenience and engagement that digital experiences offer. Brands and retailers that can deliver both are poised to win their business.

    Is In-Store Shopping Still Worth It?

    Salsify’s “2024 Consumer Research,” a survey of 2,700 U.S. and U.K. respondents across generation groups, found that a staggering 66% of consumers use online search engines to research and find products. 

    If two-thirds of consumers prefer browsing online, why bother refining the in-store shopping experience at all? Because nearly half of consumers (49%) prefer a blend of digital and in-store shopping and 57% discover new brands by shopping in brick-and-mortar locations, according to the report.

    In-store shopping is still alive and kicking, but it’s steadily taking on a new shape as consumers increasingly demand more interactive, convenient, and personalized experiences.

    What Is a Digital Experience?

    A digital experience is a way a brand engages, interacts, or presents itself through technology as a means of connecting with current or potential customers. 

    Creating a strong digital experience for shoppers can mean enabling seamless online checkouts, mobile shopping capabilities, or interactive in-store tools that help consumers visualize products in their own spaces. 

    In an omnichannel environment, shoppers can engage with all of these digital solutions — and more — as they move from one shopping channel to the next.

    Ever seen a product that sparked joy as you scrolled on social media, for example? If the brand is doing omnichannel well, they likely followed up with an email promoting the product based on your engagement with the post. 

    Then, maybe you headed to the store to check out the product for yourself, only to use a virtual reality tool to envision the product in your personal space. Maybe you even used a quick tap-to-pay checkout to select a buy now, pay later option easily.

    That’s a truly omnichannel experience — a seamless blend of in-person and digital interactions that delivers convenience and engagement to lead a shopper to purchase.

    What Technology Is Used in Retail?

    Beyond interactive screens in the posh retailers already mentioned, other technology fueling digital experiences includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and even facial recognition.

    Many retailers also offer apps that help consumers make lists, enjoy discounts, check inventory, locate products in-store, and inspect enhanced content and reviews in real-time.

    5 Best-in-Class Digital Experiences

    An online retail experience is a way of engaging and informing customers with the use of technology through personalization and interactivity — all the while meeting their shopping needs.

    Here are five companies offering top in-store and online digital experiences. 

    1. Sephora Virtual Artist Gives You a Makeover

    The Sephora Virtual Artist is an excellent example of a digital experience that truly sets the bar.

    Shoppers can download the Sephora mobile app to gain access to an instant virtual makeover. Sephora’s makeup app utilizes facial recognition technology to provide personalized recommendations. 

    With the Sephora Virtual Artist, shoppers can:

    Try on products from their favorite brands;

    Compare products; and

    Watch tutorials; and 

    Color match makeup; and so much more. 

    2. Gucci's Main Attraction

    Gucci is a luxury retailer using digital experiences to draw customers — and has been doing so for more than a decade.

    In addition to imaginative social media campaigns and viral collaborations, Gucci offers a digital showroom where shoppers can experience personal styling, see the latest pieces, and have a virtual appointment with a Client Advisor. 

    3. Virtual Reality at Lowe's

    You may have heard about Lowe's foray into virtual reality-enhanced shopping. The retailer has continued to work on its range of in-store tech offerings.

    Lowe's leverages emerging technology to allow consumers to measure their homes and virtually envision how furniture will fit and look in those spaces.

    When it’s time to make a purchase, customers can head into stores with the Lowe’s app to identify where products are physically located and inspect customer reviews for those items.

    4. Nike Kicks It in Gear

    Nike has embraced digital commerce for years with top-rated apps and tech-driven experiences. These digital-based experiences have even complemented and replaced those that happen in-store, which were a huge part of Nike's brand evolution before the pandemic.

    Online retail experiences are perhaps no better illustrated than global sporting and lifestyle powerhouse, Nike. With health, comfort, and livable style at the top of more consumers’ minds, this brand continues to win the digital shelf.

    The Nike app provides a mix of content and personalized commerce that rivals service found in-store. Users can gain early access to product drops and chat with Nike specialists for style advice.

    When it comes to putting this selected gear to the test, Nike offers a Nike Training Club app for home workouts instead of in-store training sessions.

    Though waiting in long lines outside stores for sneaker releases used to be part of the thrill (and some brands still partake), the company's Nike SNKRS app provides a hub for "sneakerheads" to snag sought-after pairs from wherever.

    5. Personalization at Panera Bread

    What’s better than soup and salad? Quick, easy, and personalized access to that lunchtime staple combo.

    To set itself apart from other go-to casual restaurants, Panera Bread is investing in personalized experiences by launching palm-scanning technology

    Hungry patrons can scan their palms upon entering the store to receive individualized greetings from Panera staff, quick updates on their orders in progress, and personalized recommendations based on their order history and preferences.

    Customers can even scan their palms to pay for their food via their biometric data, which Panera stores securely and uses for enhancing future visits. This kind of in-store digital experience creates a double benefit of convenience and personalization — two things consumers increasingly demand out of their shopping experiences — that will keep customers coming back.

    Ready For an Experience?

    It's time to capitalize on shoppers' demands for tech-driven commerce, and that means seamlessly connecting online shopping with in-store digital experiences to allow customers to buy how they want when they want.


    Written by: Ben Sharaf

    Ben Sharaf is a Business Development Representative at Salsify where he focuses on Sporting Goods and Outdoor Apparel. Ben is a graduate of Bates College where he majored in Rhetoric.

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