Aneysha Wakelin, Head of Marketing, SignStix
It's no secret that technology is continually shaping the way customers transact across multiple channels — in fact, the demand for in-store technology has heightened dramatically over the past couple of years, primarily because technology provides consumers with a much more convenient, information-rich shopping experience.
Retailers must look at ways in which technology can help them to achieve smart retail spaces that not only provide customers with the information they need, but to also connect with their audience on a whole new level.
"Brands will have to find new ways to connect with customers, and sometimes this means accepting that they're not selling 'stuff,' but rather offering spaces that offer product-based services — what I call 'edu-tainment,'" said Katie Baron, head of retail at Stylus. "These could be when brands show you how to lengthen the life of their products rather than try to sell you more — such as Nike offering sneaker care-tips — or providing areas that help customers understand their products — such as O2 offering areas where people can test technology and help see what it does for them."
This article looks at the demand for in-store technology and the types of tech that will continue to disrupt the retail industry:
In-store technology allows customers to easily access the information they need
- When asked to identify primary areas for in-store retail improvements, nearly 40 percent of consumers identified the process of selecting and purchasing goods.
- Two in three shoppers who tried to find information within a store said they didn't find what they needed, and 43 perent of them left frustrated.
- Seventy-one percent of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.
- Fifty-three percent of shoppers prefer to research products in-store.
- Fifty-six percent of shoppers still think advertising is important to their purchase decision in-store.
The in-store shopping experience should be as smooth and seamless as possible. While maintaining good visual standards, exceptional customer service and well-stocked shelves is an obvious benefactor to the process of selecting and purchasing goods, retailers must not underestimate the role of in-store technology, and the multiple benefits it can provide.
According to a Global PwC Total Retail Survey (2015), 32 percent of consumers admitted that it's easier for them to compare and research products online than in-store, whilst a further 17 percent said they actively look for customer reviews to aid their purchase decisions. By having this information easily accessible from the store, retailers have a better chance of capturing more in-store transactions.
Interactive signage kiosks can be used in a very engaging way to significantly improve product selection, purchasing and accessing vital information in-store. In addition to offering an entire repository of products, kiosks can provide additional services and content features such as customer reviews, social media feeds and wishlists, click-and-collect options and home delivery. By fusing e-commerce and in-store retailing together in this way, customers can gain immediate access to the data they need in order to secure a transaction, all from the convenience of the store.
Interactive kiosks are maturing at a rapid pace and are being developed with enhanced features and functionality such as:
- Barcode readers/scanners: Designed to make the in-store shopping experience more engaging and convenient, interactive kiosks fitted with barcode readers can provide customers access to additional product information. When a customer picks up a specific item in-store and scans its barcode, this will trigger specific signage content such as size availability, related items, customer reviews and much more.
- Location technologies: iBeacon, NFC and RFID are all examples of third-party technologies that can be integrated with digital signage kiosks or standalone screens, helping to drive personalized content to customers in-store.
- Virtual mirror: Sixty percent of consumers admit to buying products in-store due to being able to physically interact with merchandise. Virtual mirror kiosks offer a content-driven display which can also be used as a mirror for when shoppers want to try on a specific item in-store.
In-store technology attracts and entertains retail customers
- Seventy-six percent of consumers have entered a site because a digital sign was interesting.
- An additional 75 percent of consumers have told friends about a store simply because they were impressed by the signage.
As long as content is contextually relevant and recurrently refreshed, in-store technologies like digital signage will continue to attract and entertain customers.
In order to make content campaigns "interesting," retailers should look at ways in which they can create conversations across multiple channels. Seasonal or promotional campaigns for in-store signage can be set up to coincide with online offers, in addition to social media feeds that pull through external data.
Digital engagement shouldn't stop there, though; in fact, a digital signage strategy should go far beyond the pixels on a screen. Large-format video walls, unique signage orientations, curved pelmet displays, kiosks, totems and mosaic-style fixtures are all ways in which visual technology displays can be used to elevate the in-store experience, boost impressions and ultimately heighten brand perception.
Mobile is already disrupting the way customers shop in-store
- Seventy-five percent of store shoppers use their mobile devices while shopping in stores.
- Fifty-three percent of consumers say they are "happy" to receive offers or coupons from their mobile phones
- Twenty-five percent of store shoppers who use their mobile devices in stores make a purchase on their mobile devices while in-store.
Three quarters of in-store shoppers are already connected to a device — their mobile phones. Whilst we have already identified the benefits provided by self-service kiosks and interactive signage for retrieving additional information such as customer reviews and offers, retailers can go one-step further to ensure customers are getting the most of their in-store experience.
Sending personalized offers to shoppers' smartphones, either through existing store apps or triggered messaging (based on their proximity to the store), can add value to the shopper journey whilst helping to build customer loyalty.
Incentivized digital signage campaigns such as "Check-in to Facebook to WIN" can work to boost brand awareness too.
Wakelin is Head of Marketing for U.K.-based digital signage provider SignStix,a cloud-based digital engagement platform designed to enable organizations to create, edit, manage and deploy digital content with ease.