The name "Gucci" has been synonymous with high quality and luxury since the 1920s, when the company began producing classically styled leather goods. By the 1950s, movie stars and other celebrities were regularly seen in Gucci fashions or sporting Gucci accessories. Gucci items quickly became status symbols. This allowed the company to charge top prices for its goods, but catering to such an exclusive clientele meant that the company had to offer outstanding customer service while remaining on the cutting edge of fashion.
Given Gucci's history, therefore, it is not surprising that the company has launched an immersive retail experience for its customers. Thanks to the latest technological innovations, Gucci's customers can experience an interactive, immersive type of engagement that has been previously seen only with limited use in theme parks and other entertainment venues.
Life-sized screens display a fashion show with which customers can interact. If the customer would like to browse through dresses, for example, an easy-to-use interface changes the show to dresses. If the customer wants to view beige handbags, that simply requires a touch or two on the screen. Fast-forward, rewind, freeze and full 360-degree views allow customers to examine a product from every angle and in great detail.
Few retailers have the budgets available to offer such a completely immersive, high-tech experience for their in-store shoppers. However, Gucci has applied the best practices that are currently available for in-store technology. Here are five things that every retailer can learn from Gucci.
1. Use Natural User Interfaces
There are several reasons to employ natural user interfaces (NUI). By mimicking gestures that people use every day -- pointing, pushing a button, swiping their hands -- for a variety of reasons, the interfaces eliminate the need to learn new skills to operate an interactive display. Customers can spend more time interacting with the display and less time typing instructions or searching for a clickable link.
2. Involve the Customer
Gucci's displays are highly interactive and put the customer in control. Customers choose the types of products that interest them, but they also choose how many times they view the same item, which angle to freeze and other details. Passive displays, in which the customer is nothing more than a spectator, do not provide the same level of engagement. However, an interactive display that makes proper use of images can tell a story quickly while still conveying the nuances.
3. Transport Customers to a Different World
As a rule, romantic restaurants do not feature bright, harsh fluorescent lights, paper tablecloths or loud music. They are more likely to feature soft lighting, cloth table linens and soft instrumentals playing in the background. The word is "ambience," which means the overall mood or feeling of a location -- sometimes called its aura. Gucci could not create a successful immersive experience if the store's carpet was worn or stained, sales personnel were improperly dressed, staff members treated customers rudely or merchandise was not displayed properly. Every detail of the store becomes part of the customer's experience, so Gucci pays special attention to even the smallest.
4. Pamper Customers
The world of retail is highly competitive. Today, customers realize the power they have over merchants, and they expect a certain amount of pampering from retailers who want them as lifetime customers. In the world of Gucci, merely telling a customer that a product is out of stock is not acceptable. Arranging to have the desired item delivered to the customer's home or finding a suitable alternative product is the more likely scenario. Customers can get Saturday delivery or free returns for their online purchases. In short, Gucci is willing to take the extra step when it is needed to enhance the customer's experience.
5. Embrace Technology
No one would mistake Gucci for a high-tech company, but it has been willing to embrace new technology and new methods. However, a willingness to adapt to the new does not mean that the tried-and-true standards, such as superior customer service or outstanding selection of merchandise, must be abandoned. It is a matter of keeping what works, discarding old methods that no longer return results and melding the old with the new.
Not all retailers can achieve the level of international fame that Gucci has acquired. However, emulating success seldom leads to failure. By examining and applying the methods that Gucci uses, even small retailers can provide customers with a more engaging experience.
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