The Renaissance of Retail

96% of Americans do at least part of their shopping online, and 2017 marked the first year that shoppers expected their online holiday spending to exceed their offline purchases.

With many traditional shopping malls standing vacant or glaringly under-occupied, it isn’t entirely crazy to wonder if offline retail is dead.

The fact is, offline retail is going the way of the dodo.

But the key word here is offline.

As Wikipedia defines it, “Online indicates a state of connectivity, and offline indicates a disconnected state, specifically an internet connection.”

The only retail that is dead is retail that is offline – retail that is digitally disconnected.

At Zen Media, we’re raising retail from the dead. With a powerful combination of digital innovation, marketing moxie, architectural know-how, and creative design, we revive offline retail through digitally connective optimization, bringing brands fully “online” in dynamic places that customers will seek out to kindle their imagination and inspire a sense of possibility.

A fascinating phenomenon is taking place. At the peak of digital domination, at the apparent apex of e-commerce, offline retail is making a comeback, only this time, on entirely different terms.

Call it a resurgence of physical place over digital space, a Renaissance of Retail where the best of digital merges and melds with the built environment for a full-bodied, richly sensorial, highly individualized customer experience.

Retail is having its revenge, and it looks like Brick-and-Data.

High-tech is increasingly being brought “online” into otherwise “traditional” retail environments. Stores and mall operators are utilizing IoT infrastructure to capitalize on the tech that is already literally in the hands of consumers. Through chat-based tools accessed via their mobile devices, shoppers can command on-demand product information, support service, and navigation assistance in pinpointing exactly where on the retail floor a particular item is located.    

The idea here is that assistance “anticipates” the shopper, generating real-time information, customized messaging and rewards, and making a hunt for a sales associate entirely optional depending on the shopper’s needs and personal preferences. By integrating digital shopping assistance technology into the built environment via interactive displays, voice-activated service, and IoT applications, shoppers receive high levels of support while enjoying unprecedented levels of independence.

Two big names leading the way in the retail revolution are Target and Coca-Cola. Target has updated its app with bluetooth and beacon technology to take the brick-and-data shopping experience to the next level. The app functions as GPS device to “home in” on shoppers’ most wanted products, directing them straight to these items.  

Coca-Cola is incorporating digital signage that captures data from nearby shoppers’ mobile devices to generate customized content messaging. This kind of targeted messaging runs the range of promotional campaigns from special offers to app-guided shopping lists, personalizing the shopping experience, building brand trust, and yielding win-win results for both brands and brand devotees.

Interested in joining the retail revolution? Interested in taking your business to the next level? Interesting in partnering with us to pioneer your brand into the Experience Age? We invite you to take a look at our work and get in touch. 


She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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