SapientNitro: Major Retailers Lack In-Store Digital Savvy

Bloomingdale's and Sephora are lone bright spots among retailers

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SapientNitro is releasing a 156-page report today that rates retail brands on whether or not they are using digital signage and other interactive features in their stores well. A number of marquee names fared poorly in the advertising and technology firm's study, "Insights 2013," for which researchers recently visited the flagship stores of 71 major brands in New York. The retailers were each graded on 500 data points.

According to SapientNitro, only Bloomingdale's and Sephora were using in-store digital integration reasonably well, scoring a "Good" rating. Macy's, Crate & Barrel, American Eagle Outfitters, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue all rated "Average"—and in that order. Scoring the worst were Gap, Victoria's Secret, Chico's and White House Black Market. (Not surprisingly, none of the aforementioned brands are clients of the ad agency.)

All in all, most stores struggled to grade favorably when it came to multiple aspects such as mobile, kiosk, tablet-based e-commerce and digital display. Bottom line, retailers need to do more than simply slap digital elements into their locations, according to the agency—they need to create seriously-planned interactive customer experiences.

"Some had digital screens when you walked in," Hilding Anderson, director of research and insights at SapientNitro, told Adweek. "But only 22 percent of those stores were interactive, where you had a value-add beyond just merchandising or a display. That's a huge [missed] opportunity….It's just a reality that retailers are leaving a lot of [money] on the table today."

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.