Gamestop has been investing in both its store and digital channels through the Gamestop Technology Institute (GTI), which it launched in March 2014.
The retailer has 6,000 stores around the world and has been testing various technologies in 36 stores in Texas in the US. The GTI stores have been used as a test bed for consumer facing technologies, including iBeacons, Wi-Fi and mobile applications.
Speaking at the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference in New York City this week, Gamestop president Tony Bartel said he still believes strongly in physical stores, but wants to use them to engage with its digital customers – a large proportion of which are millennials who are more open to using mobile devices while shopping.
“It all revolves around the epicentre of the store,” said Bartel. “Customers know they can come in and have a great experience. The store is where the magic happens and we believe service still matters.”
The 36 stores in Texas have been working with the likes of Microsoft, IBM and AT&T to experiment with various end-user technologies.
One technology innovation is the implementation of geofence and beacon technology using a supplier called Shelf Bucks. The geofence technology can serve personalised messages to customers’ smartphone through the Gamestop app as they walk near a store, while in-store beacon technology has been introduced to send information about games to customers’ smartphones after tapping a marker.
Smartphone draw for customers
Combining this with the retailer's strong customer relationship management (CRM) platform – the Power Up rewards scheme which has 1 in 5 penetration in the US – Gamestop can know exactly where their customers are and what offers and messages they would be interested in receiving on their smartphone.
Staff have been given Windows tablet devices which alert them when a customer walks through the door. Using the loyalty information, the sales clerk will be able to start conversations and offer relevant offers, depending on the customer’s purchase history.
“And we put this information in the hands of the highly engaged associates,” added Bartel. “Now you’ve armed them with pertinent information, individual highly personalised experience for every customer.”
The retailer has been experimenting with video engagement on smartphones and in the store, which is expected to arrive at GTI shops in the second quarter of 2015. When a customer is using the Gamestop app and comes across a video, they can choose to watch the video on a screen in the store, taking control using the app.
The videos and promotional content is stored on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and there is no need for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the application recognises where the customer is and sends the video to the nearest screen connected to a Windows PC. All the customer has to do is accept location services when they first download the app.
Accelerating retail technology change
Microsoft provides an in-store shopping cart that can be used by the customer for a faster check-out.
“The future is here, the future customer is here and they’ve raised the bar and encouraged us to come up to their standard,” said Bartel.
Speaking to Computer Weekly at the National Retail Federation (NRF) show, Charlie Larkin – senior director Gamestop Technology Institute – said the retailer views innovation as a way to drive deeper consumer relationships and growth.
“Our core goal in the organisation is to accelerate the pace of change in the retail experience,” he said. “The change of digital channels and customer expectations is very high. And the rate of internal change has to exceed the rate of external change to meet that high standard for the customer. When we do that - that’s the inspiration behind all of this.”
Larkin said the plan is to expand the concept stores into a hundred or so other stores in the US to test further with customers. The retailer plans to roll out to the whole of the US and then eventually globally.