Hunting and fishing are as old as humanity, so it understandably might seem counter intuitive to think of a hunting and fishing store as a high-tech window into cutting-edge customer engagement technologies.
But while outdoor outfitter and retailer Cabela's may sell technology as ancient as the bow and arrow and the fishing pole, it uses highly modern technologies such as digital signage to do so.
Cabela's recently announced its plans to open four new stores — two in Georgia, one in Montana and one in Ontario, Canada — and these new locations will continue the chain's recent tradition of including digital signage to engage and educate its shoppers.
Digital signage display provider NEC Display Solutions of America and satellite broadband and network technologies provider Hughes both have posted case studies detailing their involvement in outfitting the outfitter with the latest in digital signage.
According to Hughes, Cabela's produces hundreds of hours of video content showcasing new gear, talking up the latest outdoor hot spots and providing tips on camping, hunting and fishing skills. The retailer has begun deploying to its locations Hughes digital signage video screen networks and video walls to display its video content, along with product information and interactive customer service applications.
The Hughes system includes a digital signage server in Cabela's main data center in Nebraska connected via an IP wide area network to media players placed throughout each store. The server pushes content to the players as file transfers, and the players display the content on screens throughout the stores, the Hughes case study said.
According to the NEC case study, those screens throughout the stores are NEC screens, after Cabela's conducted a pilot test in 2010 with a single NEC video wall in its Grand Junction, Colo., store. After that pilot, Cabela's has moved forward and standardized NEC digital signage displays across all its locations, the display provider said. NEC displays can be found in more than a dozen Cabela's stores to date, with additional deployments scheduled for every new store. The pace has been quick, as an NEC product is added to a store every three weeks, according to Gary Putman, IT senior manager of operations at Cabela's headquarters in Sidney, Neb.
In addition to that video wall, according to Hughes, the Cabela's Grand Junction store was the first to have the full range of screens deployed. Hughes also installed end-cap displays with NEC touchscreens in the Grand Junction store to showcase products in each aisle and to provide customers with on-demand information. Additional touchscreens around the store offer interactive content to help customers make purchase decisions by watching video clips and entering information into step-by-step tutorials. Even more screens in the store's break room keep employees up to date with company updates and general product information.
According to Hughes, Cabela's has digital signage in all its stores and plans to add video walls to every newly constructed store, as well as to retrofit older stores with the technology.
"We wanted to be able to show the Cabela's brand the right way, not just playing whatever people brought in on their thumb drives," Putman said in the Hughes case study. "For that we needed centralized control. Another big factor for us was a system that supported interactive content that helps our customers get the biggest bang for their buck."
For example, Cabela's has an interactive touchscreen program that takes customers shopping for safes through the steps of deciding on the right model for them. The display shows videos and provides details on various models and takes customers through a questionnaire that asks them for details that will help decide which kind of safe they need.
In the smaller Cabela's outpost stores (like the new one in Montana and one of the new Georgia stores), NEC's 65-inch V651 displays are used for wayfinding to help visitors navigate the facility as part of a total of 28 NEC displays at each Cabela's outpost store, according to the NEC case study.
"The biggest bang" for the outfitter's "digital signage buck" has come from the change digital signage has wrought to the in-store customer experience, Putnam said in the NEC study. "Customers acknowledge the 'wow factor' and are realizing vivid experiences with nature, be it through wildlife, camping, hunting, fishing or boating, to name a few," he said. "A combination of the Cabela's in-store experience plus what the digital screens can convey is an exciting proposition for visitors."
Learn more about retail digital signage.