Digital Handshake: The Future Of Unified Commerce

OUTFORM Industry Trends

As consumers emerge from their dwellings and begin to shop in person once again, their perception of physical retail has evolved completely. A few years ago, the world of physical and online retail existed as two separate entities; but as time has progressed, and fueled more so by the current pandemic, the distinctions that previously marked online vs offline began to fade and the two worlds have become co-dependent.  

As of 2021, nearly 4.8 billion people around the world own a smartphone; of that data, 83% of them use their mobile phones to help them on their shopping journey in some way. Through the evolution of behavior, brands and retailers have adapted by providing shoppers with the Digital Handshake. This emerging concept ties together customers, retailers, and technology to create the next level in cohesive customer experience. 


The Digital Handshake 

Today’s highly digital world has created opportunities for shoppers to make purchases using their laptops or mobile devices without the need to go to the store. But there is still an eminence to brick and mortar that cannot be entirely replaced by a website since stores evoke experiences and sensations that a website can’t. Brands and retailers can leverage that knowledge to provide shoppers with more personalized experiences that seamlessly meet them at touchpoints both online and in-store. 

The Digital Handshake encourages customers to opt into digital communication from brands and retailers while in-store.

Around 8 in 10 shoppers use their mobile devices while physically present at a store to compare in-store products through search or scan QR codes to get additional product information. Through the exchange of personal data, brands can get an inside look at their shoppers’ in-store activities and how those activities translate online, to create tailored experiences for each shopper. 

Consumer/Brand Interaction 

During the Digital Handshake, there are 3 paths of user experience:  

Online: Physical to Digital 

Many luxury brands have tapped into this form of consumer interaction. The shopper begins their retail journey by doing online research, looking up product information, followed by a call to action to book an appointment to visit the store. Once the customer creates an appointment, they receive a follow-up email to announce when they’ve arrived. Once they are checked in, they’ll be guided towards the display by a guest associate.  

By using the “handshake” the store and staff are updated on the shoppers’ arrival, allowing them to offer the right service at the right time.  

Offline: Physical to Digital 

QR codes in-store allow shoppers to launch digital experiences for product education and exploration. QR codes also open the door to exclusive offers and coupons in exchange for the shoppers’ data. Once they leave the store, the retailer or brand can continue communicating with the shopper to stay top of mind. 

Offline: Non-Digital Route 

By merging digital components with a physical store environment, retailers can provide shoppers with interactive experiences to create a more engaging visit. For example, digital components such as voice activation or motion sensors can be incorporated into a retail display to trigger interactive elements between the customer and the products. Shoppers can activate smart-home speakers in-store with their voice to explore the product in more depth to better understand how it will function in their home. Or, a shopper can use hand gestures to explore product components, avoiding having to touch anything to ensure their safety.  

(Learn more about our interactive in-store solutions)  

 Technological Reasoning  

Shoppers have come to take advantage of the digitally saturated world, using it for their convenience. By tapping into online shopping behaviors through the Digital Handshake, physical retailers can appeal to consumers through familiar elements to create ongoing communication and a longer relationship. As long as customers see the value in what retailers are offering in exchange for their information, they will be more at ease when sharing their data. 

Stores must learn how to coexist within a digital ecosystem, by understanding the connection between physical and digital retail, an opportunity to create new and exciting experiences emerges. The Digital Handshake is the bridge needed to bridge the gap between online and physical retail.   

 Unlock our Insights Reporton the evolution of the digital handshake where we explore the importance of unified commerce, consumer behavior, and emerging trends.