In order to attract today’s mobile-first, digitally native customers, traditional stores need to embrace the technology and infrastructure that has made online shopping so successful.
Compared to physical stores, e-commerce can offer a wider range of products, lower prices, and greater convenience. Online shoppers can browse and make purchases any time, any place, using their phones, smart speakers, or tablets. Smart in-store digital signage is one of the easiest and most cost-effective way to deliver a unified experience that combines both physical and digital aspects. Let’s look at the huge range of benefits modern digital signage can offer retailers and their customers.
Modern digital signs can offer far more than a simple screen displaying a loop of information. Unlike old-school screens, today’s in-store tech is fully interactive, encouraging customers to use them for a wide variety of purposes.
- Attracting customers: well designed interactive signs in the entrance to the store or in the window engage the attention of passers-by and encourage them to enter the store.
- Browsing: digital signage is ideal for presenting product information. Customers can search or browse in the same way as they do on the Web or via an app, or the sign can recommend them items based on current promotions and, where appropriate, the customer’s individual purchasing and search history. A full range of content can be displayed, including video.
- Wayfinding: direct customers straight to the specific items they want using an interactive map. It offers much more detail than a standard map, and can also include inventory information, warning customers if an item is currently out of stock.
- Purchasing: digital signage can become a part of the payment process. Instead of waiting in line at a checkout, customers can pay at a sign using their mobile device.
- Fun! One of the most important parts of digital signage is being able to create entertaining experiences that customers enjoy playing with. If all they want is to complete a purchase, they can buy what they want online faster and cheaper: if they’re making the effort to come to your store, they probably want shopping to be a leisure activity.
Shoppers enjoy interacting with smart digital signs in ways that are innovative, fun, and intuitive. Stores can offer their customers a huge range of more exciting and engaging options, instead of using a keyboard and mouse.
- Touch: the majority of smart signs use touch screens as the primary interface. Customers are already familiar with touch screens and find these easy to use. They are also easy to design for, as they are similar to designing for mobile devices.
- Barcode: incorporating a barcode scanner allows the sign to identify products and either display additional information or allow a purchase to be made through the sign.
- Voice: with smart speakers becoming more mainstream, customers aren’t as self-conscious as they used to be when it comes to having a conversation with a device, even in a public place. They like asking questions and having the device talk back to them.
- Camera: building a camera into the UI allows the sign to incorporate all sorts of interesting capabilities. Used as a motion detector, it enables the device to wake up when it detects a customer passing by or looking at it, and engage them in conversation. It can also use images of the customer to create personalized visual content, such as product recommendations or entertaining pictures.
- Mobile devices: using a QR code, customers or staff can take control of a digital sign, and use simply commands or gestures to interact with it. They can also download content to their device, such as product information, digital coupons, or even place items into an online shopping cart.
Where interactive digital signage really comes into its own is the ability to blend e-commerce and physical elements. Customer journeys are becoming increasingly complex, involving multiple touchpoints on numerous platforms. A visit to a store can end in an online purchase at a later date.
- Endless aisle: digital signage can display information about items that aren’t on the shelves. Customers can see whether an item is in-stock but not displayed, or whether it’s available in another store. They can then purchase the item immediately and either collect it or have it delivered.
- Window shopping that works: placing a digital sign in a store window allows customers to browse and even make purchases without even entering the store. This enables customers who are short on time to buy something quickly. Most importantly, it operates 24/7, even when the store is closed.
- Integration with mobile devices in-store: many customers already use their phones in-store for comparison shopping and product research, so this plays into their natural inclinations. QR codes enable customers to download product information or coupons to their phones. This encourages them to make a purchase later even if they don’t purchase in-store.
- Integration with existing marketing content: digital signage can be updated instantaneously to display latest offers and prices or promoted items. Content already created for Web, mobile, TV or other media can be reused or easily repurposed in order to ensure consistency and reduce the cost of deploying and maintaining content.
- Integration with e-commerce infrastructure: making a purchase using an interactive digital sign should be as simple as making a purchase via any other online methodology. The sign should have access to the same e-commerce infrastructure as the existing Web site or app, ensuring that it’s a familiar process to customers and is fulfilled in the same way.
Benefits to store staff
One of the most unappreciated benefits of deploying in-store technology is that it helps the store staff as well as the customers. Smart signage can take on a lot of the mundane tasks, as well as providing sales staff with new tools. This has a noticeable effect on the entire in-store experience. The primary difference between physical and online retail is the ability to talk to an actual person, face to face, so direct customer contact is essential to building the relationship between the customer and the brand. Perhaps ironically, using digital signs in a physical context actually improves the human contact between shoppers and staff.
- Better customer service: shoppers use digital signage to address common questions, everything from prices to availability. This frees up store staff and allows them to pay more attention to those customers who have more complex needs.
- Better sales options: large interactive screens can be powerful sales aids, presenting rich media content more effectively than a tablet or laptop. Since the screens are larger, they work better in group settings.
- Reduced staff needs & cost: the deployment of digital signage can reduce the overall workload by eliminating simple or repetitive tasks. This can generate significant savings.
What that all adds up to
I’m not claiming that interactive digital signage is a panacea for the so-called retail apocalypse. It won’t solve all your problems, but it can, when employed effectively, make a huge difference to almost every part of your business.
- Happy customers: a better in-store experience that surprises and delights your customers offers them something that online stores can’t offer.
- More productive staff: reducing the load on your staff and giving them new tools enables them to do a better job of customer service and enjoy their job more.
- Brand awareness:__text in bold__ innovative use of technology and integration with online services builds brand loyalty and encourages customers to talk about their experiences.
- More sales: better information and more payment options increases sales. Even if those sales don’t occur in-store, the store has played an important part in the overall customer journey.
Smart digital signage can be deployed rapidly with minimal cost. It’s proven to work all over the world, from Europe and the USA, the Middle East, Australia, and China. It’s a simple, effective way to transform the in-store experience.