The Technology Transforming Traditional Retail Spaces

More consumers than ever before are abandoning the high street to shop online. This has escalated the battle for shoppers’ attention in retail spaces, forcing retailers to become inventive with their sales and marketing tactics. An emerging technology in this arena is digital signage. Today, displays are more powerful than ever before and increasingly common, deployed with a number of benefits.


An Interactive Customer Experience


The internet has empowered the consumer with the ability to research before they buy and to shop around to ensure they are getting the best deal. This new freedom has meant many shoppers have abandoned the shopping centre or high street altogether, keen to avoid pushy salespeople and save themselves time.


Retail digital signage marks a significant effort to revolutionise the customer experience. Through interactive touch-screen kiosks, retailers are beginning to empower shoppers and see their gratitude reflected in increased sales. The principle of giving agency to consumers was first seen in the UK with the retailer Argos letting customers search through catalogues in store. The modern day equivalent of this practice is letting shoppers search store catalogues on touch-screen devices. Rather than pester customers as soon as they walk through the door, this approach empowers the consumer, making their experience more relaxed. The outcome is they stay in store longer and, in doing so, have an increased likelihood of making a purchase.


Directing The Customer Journey


Digital signage for retail not only transforms customer experience, it is a way for retailers to influence shoppers. Retail displays can direct footfall around a store. Digital screens with a wayfinding capacity can provide maps of the store’s layout and guide shoppers to what they are looking for. Alternatively, default messages offered on screen can be used to manipulate footfall with, to give a simple example, arrows pointing to a particular aisle or department.


This can mean showcasing particular products, perhaps new stock, over others to manipulate sales. The principle is of course the same as having banners in your shop window or stand-alone displays up in aisles. The key difference, however, is the space-saving benefit of digital signage. The cost of shop floor space is ever increasing, leaving smaller retailers in particular struggling to compete with larger household names. While only taking up a small amount of space on a wall, retail digital signage can rotate the messaging it displays, effectively making your shop window larger when it comes to advertisement.


Identifying The Target Customer


One of the reasons digital signage is becoming so popular as an advertising platform is the technology’s innovations to audience tracking. Online there are countless tools for companies to find out data concerning visitors to their website, but physical retailers have lacked a comparable means to collect data. At least until recently.


Developments in digital signage now mean that screens are able to track with a greater understanding who’s walking past and who’s stopping to engage with content. Almost every mobile phone nowadays has bluetooth. Using this, advanced signage screens are able to collect data on passersby. Some screens even have eye-tracking and facial-recognition capacity. At the forefront of the technology, retail digital signage is able to identify the gender and age of its real-time audience and adapt its content accordingly. This kind of targeted marketing is sure to increase customer engagement and positively influence sales.


Encouraging Customer Behaviour


Speaking of sales, traditional retail spaces are being transformed by interactive retail screens. Developments in the technology allow customers to enter the product identity (SKU) code of an item and receive its information and availability on screen. Alternatively with QR codes, retailers can invite consumers to scan their screens to unlock special offers. A far more engaging tactic than citing a discount code over the till.


As retailers get more creative with technology, they might want to think about strategies where customers are rewarded for scanning each display in their store. This links back to shaping the customer journey. For instance, a large department store could offer a unique discount to customers engaging with a screen on every floor of the store. This gamification approach would be a hugely effective way of spreading and increasing footfall, especially for customers with children.

While the high street is increasingly under-threat from the digital marketplace, the rise of retail digital signage is a sign that it is only evolving to cater for a new generation of shoppers. The retailers that are embracing this change are seeing huge returns on investment and it is only a matter of time before others catch up.
Guest post by TrouDigital, experts in retail digital signage.

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