OPINION: Digital Media in Retail – A Forseeable Change

David Anderson, director of CADA Design Group, discusses digital media in retail.

Smart phone?  Good.  You’re in the club, and interactvity is the key word.

Increasingly, many of the issues that we face when designing new store concepts and overhauling existing ones, can be described as interactive digital media; for example social networking, cashless retail, programmable audio visual messaging (Interactive P.O.S.), interactive emotional management and in-store TV.

However, the wider context of digital media in retail comprises audio, video and technology presenting a message by a retailer to a customer, and not just necessarily in-store.  Benefit? Competitive advantage through an increase of functionality of both mobile technology and interactivity; it’s no longer about forgetting your wallet, it’s forgetting to charge your phone.

If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest on the planet; its rise, exponential. Harnessing the power of social networking is not just the domain of mid market brands. Premium brands are making online shopping  a socially connected event. The retail industry describes this connecting of sales and marketing platform as ‘cross channel’.  In 2010, luxury retailers on average saw a 200 per cent increase in mobile visits and a contribution of five per cent of sales. That is a 7-12 times increase over 2009.

Another issue – cashless retail means no more till drawers and a liberation of the transaction process.  It can literally occur at the point the customer makes the buying decision.  Scan the bar code on the label, punch in your pin and you have bought a sweatshirt.  The Oyster Card for London Transport demonstrates our appetite for cashless retail.  10 million in circulation and only three per cent of travel in London is now paid with cash.

Tell M is a good example of interactive P.O.S.  It can carry three messages of which the first can be activated by a sensor. Visual Planet s ViP interactive foil can deliver large transparent holographic screens with full interactivity which can operate through a traditional shop window. Customers can browse your entire catalogue at any time, night or day, the upside of which is incremental sales, unlimited depth of data, instant content change and competitive advantage, all of which can be measured emperically.

Interactive Emotional Management is a brand new migrative technology invented for the gaming industry.  A real time audio tool that adjusts audio sources to respond to the action in the game.  The sound track parameters, fear, tension, enjoyment, excitement all adjust to support the action.  Pertaining to sports retail for example, think about trial areas where the audio, video, and lighting is adjusted in real time to the customer trial.  The experience becomes all the more compelling. Imagine a sports store where no two people ever interact with it in the same way ever again.

The objective for in-store TV is to sell more to more people, placement and content are the critical issues. Retail TV networks began in the 1970s, yet bringing it bang up to date are PRN in the States who sub-categorise the media by location and action, TV Wall, Checkout TV, Product TV etc. Retailers need to think about both placement of the delivery vehicle but also the nature of the delivered message.

Social networking, cashless retail, programmable audio and video, interactive emotional management and in-store TV. All tech based, all integrated, yet at the heart of this is connectivity, interactivity and mobility.  Social networking at its most basic is word of mouth marketing; it creates advocacy. A key learning however is that multi-channel shopping options create less loyalty.  The winning retailers will be the ones that provide an immersive, customer centric and superior shopping experience through all channels.  Inspire, inform and be ingenious. Technology with ingenuity gives your brand a competitive advantage.





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