CEO and Co-founder
Challenged by the growth of ecommerce, retailers are looking for ways to spice up their brick-and-mortar presence. James Yancey, CEO and co-founder of in-store marketing technology provider CloudTags, spoke to eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how the vendor is helping brands like Crate and Barrel and Timberland make in-store experiences more digitally connected and engaging.
eMarketer: How is CloudTags bringing the physical and digital experience together for brands and consumers?
James Yancey: The premise is delivering physical intent data to retailers. We know that out of millions of people that walk into stores, only 10% convert. But the remaining 90% of shoppers are still looking at specific products and having interactions with sales associates. Our goal is to create connected stores that use app-less technology to collect data on these interactions. Every engagement with our technology takes place on in-store devices, which eliminates the barriers of signing in and downloading something.
eMarketer: What does it mean to create a connected store?
Yancey: We have a proprietary hardware structure that we ship to retailers. The base piece is called a cloud block—it’s a modular, metal building material that doesn’t require tools, like a Lego brick. These pieces are put together in retail locations and used to display tablets that shoppers can use in stores. In a 1,000-square-foot physical space, a furniture brand can display 20 products effectively. Our cloud block digital wall structure could feature 20 to 30 additional products displayed on tablets that consumers can explore.
eMarketer: What role do consumers’ personal devices play?
Yancey: If consumers want to make a purchase, they can visit the domain we’ve created for the retailer using their own device. For example, when we worked with Timberland, it was timberland.link. Visiting the domain sends a signal to the tablets on the digital wall. At that point, the device has a closed loop of communication with the tablets. Now, it’s all about touch—consumers can touch something on the digital wall with their finger, then touch their phone and the product will show up on the phone. From there, the consumer can purchase the product, ship it home or provide an email address to save it for later.
eMarketer: In what ways does this cater to the pop-up trend in retail?
Yancey: Retailers are embracing flexible, modular experiences. They’re moving away from 15-year leases on 30,000-square-foot spaces. Brands such as Crate and Barrel or Timberland will still have their stores, but there are other opportunities for them as well. For example, Timberland is looking at building retail experiences at Brooklyn Brewery. We provide infrastructure to show their entire range of products in very small spaces.
eMarketer: What if a consumer doesn’t make a purchase? What other data is collected and how can it be beneficial to retailers?
Yancey: After consumers leave the store, everything they interacted with can be curated and sent to them. It works like retargeting on a website. In-store browsing data shows a high level of consideration, and that’s important to brands. And if consumers do choose to opt-in to receive emails throughout the browsing process, this is also valuable because many customers who come to physical stores are not the same customers that shop on the website. The role of the physical store is then to not only drive transactions, but suddenly there’s also a tremendous potential for new customer identification.