A brand is much more than a logo or series of colors. A brand, according to Seth Godin, author of 17 books and inductee into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, is, “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” A brand is imperative to a retailer’s success, and is a great example of the importance of balancing technology and human interaction.

Technology, specifically the Internet, has allowed consumers more access to more products than ever before. Previously bound to the geography of where they lived or catalogs they delivered specifically to potential buyers, retailers now had the opportunity to reach and be reached much more easily through the World Wide Web. This also created an opportunity for resellers who could survive only in a digital world. Technology also provided the business case for investments of online retailers with web sites and logistics processes necessary in a global marketplace.

What retailers have recognized now, though, is the inseparable connection between online and physical stores. Much like what happened in the manufacturing industry after learning the downside of offshoring operations, consumers have realized they are missing the act of shopping and buying. This is where retailers with a physical presence can and are capitalizing. By balancing technology and human interaction, retailers can have an active online and physical presence, both of which build on their brand recognition and loyalty. By using the robust websites and logistics processes retailers have built, they can improve the physical shopping experience, reduce unnecessary stock, and be better able to respond to the ever-present impermanency of retail.

Retail stores are also using technology in new ways to incorporate online convenience within the shopping experience in the “real world:

  • Supplement stock rooms and increase sales with access to online tools on the sales floor
  • Employees can place orders from mobile tablets and have products delivered directly to consumers’ doors
  • Use mobile devices to quickly cash out products and simplify the shopping experience, removing unattractive aspects like standing in line
  • Removes the need for large or multiple wrap desks within the store footprint, offering more floor space for product
  • Easily access buying trends and shopping behaviors to tailor discounts and promotions to targeted audiences – yielding increased sales

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