Many Canadians remain in preference of in-store shopping experiences, data shows.
Innovators are tinkering with all manner of solution to a problem: the digital shopping experience has not realized its full potential. While e-commerce is popular and growing, the lacklustre process of much of online shopping remains a sizeable void.
One area that digital has struggled to compete with brick-and-mortar on is the seemingly simple touchpoint of personal interaction.
“The digital age demands that technology prioritize facilitating interaction to improve the customer experience,” Simong Long wrote for Fintech.ca last month. “Crafting memorable and meaningful shopping experiences that captivate customers and boost sales hinges on our ability to harness the power of interaction.”
Long, who serves as Head of Growth for e-commerce website builder Shoplazza, believes shopping “transcends mere transactions, encompassing emotional and social dimensions.”
“People shop for various reasons, including satisfying needs, fulfilling desires, rewarding themselves, impressing others, or simply having fun,” he wrote. “In essence, shopping is an interactive experience that engages multiple senses and cognitive processes.”
Such a sensorial experience has eluded digital-based retail.
But at the same time, physical retail has been slow to bring many of the positive aspects of digital shopping in-store. The mall is not what it once was—or what it could be, according to an Alberta-based startup.
Arii Guest Services is a company based in Edmonton offering innovative technology to improve the way shopping centres interact with their guests in the digital age.
The omnichannel digital platform allows guests to connect with their preferred channels, whether it be video, call, chat, audio, QR code, kiosk, messaging, or phone.
The Alberta firm’s suite of digital tools empowers businesses to anticipate guest needs, exceed expectations, and build lasting loyalty through analytics, interactions, and onboarding. Arii offers all-in-one software for various industries, such as retail, hospitality, residential, and office.
Corry van den Brink, who cofounded the company late last year, believes his startup offers a “groundbreaking digital communications platform.”
Picture a busy shopper at the mall searching for the perfect gift for her friend’s birthday, he says. With the clock ticking, she’s starting to feel overwhelmed. Here’s how Arii helps her through the centre, according to the CEO.
Arii’s platform supports in-person interactions across channels. In this case, the shopper can use live chat to get immediate assistance without losing time. On a smartphone, shoppers have a personal concierge at their fingertips. This includes instant access to store information and promotions, making the shopping experience more efficient.
Arii also creates personalized experiences; in the ever-evolving retail landscape, shopping centres need to adapt and innovate to meet the expectations of their customers.
“As a passionate advocate for the shopping centre industry, I’ve witnessed the challenges we’ve faced, from inflation and the pandemic to the rapid growth of e-commerce,” he stated recently. “Guest Experience departments have suffered, leaving customers wanting more. “That’s why I’m excited to share Arii—the future of [guest experience].”
According to van den Brink, “Arii has the power to revolutionize the shopping centre experience.”
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