Digital Media: In Store Merchandising and Customer Engagement Strategies
The advent of digital signage and other media that enable customers to engage and interact with product in a physical store in a manner similar to online shopping has fundamentally blurred the distinctions between shopping channels. Now customers can realize the immediate benefits of being present in a physical store – touching and seeing the product and taking it home for immediate use, while being able to research the product, see reviews and get additional information as they do while shopping online.
QR codes are an immediate and inexpensive entry into digital retailing. With this square, two-dimensional bar code, customers who have a smart phone with a QR reader can access a treasure trove of information about a physical product right in the store. Lavi Industries can help with in-queue QR codes. From the belts on retractable belt stanchions to post-top signage, we have a solution for custom imprinting – our QR code-ready process takes in-store merchandising to a whole new level.
Taking advantage of existing media sources in a retail operation is another great opportunity to begin creating an in-store digital experience. For example, if you already have an electronic queuing solution, explore the possibility of using the media components of the system to educate and entertain your customers while they are waiting in line. The QtracCF® and QtracVR® electronic queuing systems from Lavi Industries come complete with standard media capabilities.
Digital signage displays allow customers to access videos, interact for way finding and conduct product research and analysis. It can also be used to communicate promotions and upcoming sales and can be a key enabler for brand enhancement. Recruiting and training qualified staff to provide adequate product knowledge is a constant challenge for retail managers, and keeping them informed about every promotion is also challenging. Well planned and implemented digital signage can eliminate a significant portion of that burden, and can provide a consistent message that is accurate and crafted to help transition customers from researchers to purchasers. Digital media management systems, such as the Qtrac® Media Manager from Lavi Industries, give users centralized control of digital signage and messaging and instant chain-wide deployment of merchandising and brand messaging.
Far beyond the branding and promotions aspect of digital signage, when public information such as news, weather and local information is incorporated, the viewing public experiences an even greater enhancement in customer experience. A key principle in queuing is that occupied waits feel shorter than unoccupied waits. Digital signage is an obvious choice for filling the time that customers spend waiting in line.
Investing in digital signage often requires more initial investment than traditional print signage, but when content is frequently updated, the cost of printing pays back that investment. Digital signage also has the ability to be interactive with imbedded touch screens, movement detection and image capture devices. Because of the initial investment, many retailers are placing digital merchandising and media in high impact and high traffic areas of the store because they allow flexibility to display more than one message in the same real estate footprint. This is important in areas where there is the greatest potential to impact profits, such as a queue with a captive audience. In fact, some industry experts refer to digital signage solutions as “captive audience networks.” One way to doubly capitalize on the investment made in digital signage is to integrate it with other technologies such as an electronic queuing system.
Another key advantage of digital signage, sometimes called pace-based media, is the potential it creates to target messages and product mix promoted based on geographic location and time of day and day of week. For example, promotions can be targeted to the demographic that shops at a given time period.
Finally, digital signage offers brick and mortar retailers the same flexibility to rapidly incorporate feedback and changes that the web has offered online retailers. With traditional print signage, the work flow requires time for printing and delivery of promotions. With digital signage, many systems can be controlled remotely and updates are real-time. This flexibility also means that it is far less risky to test new ad concepts and marketing promotions since, if they don’t get the desired results, they are easily changed. Items with great potential, promoting new arrivals, and pushing slow movers are all great opportunities opened up by digital media networks that were too difficult to promote previously.
While digital signage may never completely substitute for a friendly, well-trained service agent, it can allow agents to focus their efforts on customers who have requirements that don’t match well with digital signage. The rest of us will appreciate access to more, and reliable, product information without having to find a (sometimes elusive) sales assistant.