10 Dec Convergence in retail
In our highly connected economy, where trust and relationships are central, convergence has become a driving force shaping our lives. Convergence is the coming together of multiple separate entities, technologies, functions, experiences or groups. In the tech world, convergence often relates to the fusion of functions into a single device. For example, a phone that can take photos, measure distance, map journeys and of course make phone calls etc. Or the TV that you can surf the internet on and watch TV.
You guessed it, convergence in technology is nothing new. What is new, is the way convergence is infiltrating other disciplines. In media, convergence is the coming together of the point of (media) consumption and the point of transaction. The moment a person is exposed to a message, they can immediately and easily transact. Woolworths supermarket did this when they installed a poster in a busy train station that replicated a shopping aisle. People could browse the “aisle” and purchase items right there on a mobile device. Most digital advertising allows this kind of convergence, but the fluidity of the user experience is not always conducive to fast, easy transaction. Amazon is the poster child for one-click seamless transactions. Amex has also implemented convergence within the Offers tab of the Mobile App.
Convergence is transforming the retail industry. Shopping centres, for example, are changing the make-up of their tenant profiles. Transactional retailers and lifestyle experiences are converging. Centres are incorporating more gyms, child care, cinema’s, restaurants etc. into the shopping experience. These experiences reduce the centres reliance on traditional retailer tenants and also draw more people, more often into the centre. Departments stores are looking to provide similarly convergent experiences by using their floor space to bring various experiences into one place. Harrod’s in the UK has their integrative beauty experience where beauty and wellness converge. It consists of 14 treatment rooms including personal training, 3D scanning photography, cryotherapy, vitamin infusions and of course beauty products to purchase.
When you think of owned media, the point of consumption and point of transaction are often one in the same, which is one reason why owned media is so powerful. Convergence is a way for any business to frame how they constantly improve their customer experience and how they stay current in a connection economy that demands a greater focus on customer experience and relevance. It requires imagination, a finger on the pulse of your customers and the courage to try things.