Brick-and-mortar shopping is set for a resurgence. But the experiences offered by tomorrows retail stores won’t feel like the ones that baby boomers or pre-covid crowds are used to.
“The new in-store customer experience requires an omni-channel approach that provides continuity of the experience throughout the customer’s journey,” says Michael Clegg, Senior Technology Consultant at Vega, a leading provider of integrated retail technology solutions.
This journey starts at home and goes across all platforms – TV, mobile, digital signage and smartphones. “Whether the in-store experience includes smart mirrors or furniture shopping using augmented reality, consumers nowadays expect it,” says Michael.
Digital signage that simply displays static imagery is rapidly becoming obsolete. “It needs to integrate with technologies that are capable of capturing consumer profiles to push personalised content, as well as report on and analyse selected consumer data to increase sales.”
Mike notes that the technology that underpins the guest experience now goes way beyond traditional audiovisual elements such as MATV and digital signage. There’s now a strong need for data management and API integration between systems. This not only creates a check-in to check-out guest experience – it also enables the development of strategies that will help hotels monetise the investment.
The introduction of 5G and the lower cost of technologies, analytics and artificial intelligence has created a more in-depth relationship between retailers and their customers. “Store owners can now gain an even better understanding of how shoppers engage in-store and interact with their product offerings,” Michael says.
The digital experience can make shopping more interesting, interactive and engaging. “Digital signage, used properly, can create a thrilling in-store experience,” says Michael. “It helps you cut through the clutter.”
Large LCD displays and video walls build a store’s brand and draws shoppers in, while smaller in-store displays can provide personalised messages that reflect the specific shopper’s likes and habits.
Mike points out that the key is to be relevant, enticing and memorable.
“You can have dynamic content that also has an interactive component. Let’s say you run a fashion store. A customer can touch the content on the display, overlay a photo of themselves and then see if a certain coloured top works well with a skirt, or trousers. It can even provide suggestions based on their previous purchases or deliver a personalised thank you for visiting the store as they leave with their purchase.”
Until fairly recently, retailers couldn’t calculate the ROI of digital signage.
Today they can.
Integrating digital signage with other technologies such as sensors, cameras, and Ai and Cloud connected services not only enhances the shopper experience – it can provide select customer data so retailers can analyse behaviour and become part of the holistic customer’s journey.
“They can have a continuous dialogue with their customers over what products and services to adopt,” says Michael.
Big data companies, as well as digital signage display companies such as Samsung, Exterity and NEC have been quick to provide integrated platforms for businesses to gather data and make intelligent decisions based on analytics.
Understanding the interoperability and API data farming opportunities between these technologies is an area that Vega excels at.
“We think strategically for clients and deliver environments that often exceed client expectations,” Michael says.
Engaging with customers through intelligent, automated and customised content leading to a sale based on data gathered is the ideal scenario.
Michael cites a scenario that clients often ask him about. “A customer takes a jacket off the rack. A sensor transmits information to the digital sign to deliver more information on the product and upsell other products such as a shirt or tie.”
This is all great, says Michael. But he points out that understanding a shopper’s journey in-store, time spent on premises, product selection, and return to shelf “switch out” behaviours, overlayed with store layout and merchandise placement based on analytics is “just the tip of the new iceberg”.
The signage, he says, is now joining the shopper on their entire journey, helping them to make a good decisions.
Vega works with market leaders in integrated digital technology to provide cutting edge solutions to retail stores throughout New Zealand and Australia. These include such leading brands as Samsung and Exterity.
“We identify exactly what a client needs and then design, deploy and manage a customised digital signage solutions that helps them achieve their objectives,” Michael says.