It's 2016: Technology is fast evolving, and it surrounds us every day — so much so that consumers now expect to not only see digital solutions everywhere, but to interact with them. Retailers need to embrace this digital evolution, by providing consumers an immersive experience in-store. Technology is a key part of creating an immersive experience, plus it can help in calculating the ROI of your digital strategy.
What are "immersive experiences"?
An immersive experience is one that positively engages your audience emotionally, captivating their attention with your brand. Imagine a retail store no longer only being the purchase point. Instead, it is an arena where emotions are engaged and consumers are entertained, educated and inspired. It is a space where your brand can truly connect with your audience. Retailers really need to start thinking about (or better yet, acting on) how they can create an immersive experience in-store. After all, the integration of digital solutions in retail has already begun, and continual evolution is inevitable. In fact, according to New Market Research Report the digital signage market is expected to reach $23.76 billion by 2020. That's a 40 percent increase from 2015! Immersive experiences really are what today's consumer is demanding and, as ICX Association Executive Director Scott Slucher put it, immersive experiences become the glue that binds shopper to brand.
Immersive experiences can be successfully executed with the help of a variety of technologies, such as digital signage solutions. Take Indooroopilly Shopping Centre in Queensland, for example, which holds an Interactive Christmas Experience each year over the end-of-year school holidays. With the help of interactive digital signage displays, the mall creates something truly unique that entertains shoppers during the hectic Christmas period.
Creating immersive experiences is not limited to technology
Though digital solutions can truly enhance the shopper's in-store journey, creating immersive experiences is not limited to technology. Take for example, Choices Flooring, which in 2013 initiated a "Store Evolution" across its 145 stores Australia-wide. Though digital signage technology was a key aspect of the Store Evolution, it was not the only focus. The Store Evolution re-evaluated all aspects of the consumer in-store experience, from the layout, displays and POS through to the store fragrance, lighting and music, to staff uniform and product education. Choices Flooring's Store Evolution doesn't just create a welcoming and inspiring in-store environment for consumers, it transforms the Australian flooring retail experience as we know it. And as a result, market-research has reported 9/10 consumers will return to Choices Flooring.
An immersive experience should aim to entertain, engage, educate and inspire your consumers through all five senses: sight, hearing, taste (where appropriate), touch and smell.
How to calculate the ROI of my immersive experience?
Easy — technology can help here as well.
Using video analytics, deployers can receive advanced information on consumer demographics and movement. With specialized cameras and software, they can obtain valuable information to better target consumers, improve product placement and display, forecast merchandising and control inventory. This can be taken from a simple camera placed in-store, or from the digital signage solutions themselves. For example, if a retailer has an interactive endless-aisle in-store, they can receive data on how many interactions per day, highest product search rates, etc.
We're seeing an increasing number of retailers rethinking their in-store strategies to offer consumers an immersive experience. Exciting times are ahead!
/ Emily Carroll is the Marketing Manager of Prendi Pty Ltd. Prendi is a full-service digital solutions provider, specialising in the integration of a wide range of technologies, content and interactivity into physical environments.