The Perspective 
Friday, 30 May 2014

Matt Schmitt
President & Founder
Reflect Systems


Today’s brands are more focused than ever on adapting to consumer lifestyles and delivering a branded experience that resonates with their audience. The importance of well-executed brand media increasingly puts all brands, including retailers, in the content game.

Reflect In-Store Digital SignageMarketing’s role in retail is shifting from advertising to brand storytelling. In the past, the driving force of many marketing strategies was to use print and broadcast to get customers out of the home and into the store. Customer segments were focused on demographics using age, gender and location. In this traditional “push” model, the idea was to reach a captive audience and deliver them a message, with the goal of influencing a transaction.

Today, marketing is about creating a brand media network that spans a variety of engagement channels. We’re not simply trying to get customers to a location. We want them to create a lasting connection with the brand and adopt it as part of their lifestyle. Moving beyond demographics, psychographics focuses on behaviors, interests and lifestyle. And rather than a push model, brands are pursuing an engagement model that creates a two-way dialogue between them and the customer.

Everywhere, All The Time

Reflect In-Store Digital Media

Brands are becoming more omni-focused, with content executed across a variety of channels, from the digital world to physical locations. The brand media should be consistent and adapted to suit the channel type.  

1. Broadcast is still a major platform for all brand media. Broadcast is still primarily about traditional television, but the landscape is shifting rapidly. YouTube is becoming a big player for brand media, with strong appeal for the brand. The ability to better target audiences and track engagement is key. And brands are able to tell more of their story with longer form content and media that moves beyond the 30-second spot. 

2. Social Media is a fast-moving target. It’s easier to think less in terms of the individual applications, and more in terms of a communications network with a shifting landscape of providers. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and others provide new ways of engagement and require new methods of branding. 

3. Mobile is increasingly becoming synonymous with online, and commerce transactions are shifting away from the desktop pc and retail website to an untethered, app-centric world. Mobile apps are about personal empowerment and enabling relevance in time and place.

4. In-Store is where all of the engagement channels can be brought together to create an impactful brand experience that can create deep engagement with the customer. The physical location presents a powerful platform for telling the brand story in a contextually relevant way.

The Art Of The Happening

Going to a physical store to shop is an event. To use an analogy, it’s like going to a movie theater instead of watching at home. Sure, there’s the instant gratification that comes from going to the location to “get it now”. But there’s more to the theater than exclusivity. The venues, at least the better ones, provide an experience. It’s an event and a happening.

Shoppers who “check in” to a physical store via social media aren’t simply looking for a coupon or offer. Often they are saying “Hey, look…I’m doing something. I’m out there in the world, taking action.” But are they being treated to a feeling of excitement by the brand experience and given reinforcement that what they’re doing is interesting? In other words, did they arrive at a location, or at an event?

The Audience As Participants

In the age of the connected customer, the audience for brand media is not passive. Because of their affinity for empowerment and communications, they are able to be active participants in the new media.

For a compelling example of brand media engagement, take a look at the recent campaign by the fast fashion retailer Uniqlo. To promote their new line of t-shirts, a multi-channel experience was created to engage the customers as brand media participants.

uniqlo store 

A purpose-built mobile app was created for the campaign. The app allows customers to create two-second video clips showing them with their new Uniqlo t-shirt and “showing off their moves”. The app is promoted in the store, with a small stage area set up with lights and a backdrop. Customers can shoot their video (either in-store or elsewhere) and can post it to social media and to a special microsite set up by the brand at The user-generated content is also showcased in the store as montages on digital signage video-walls.

In the post-advertising age, the most effective brand media content can go beyond storytelling, and into customer participation. Brands are now finding ways to move audiences to participate in the storytelling process.

The Store Is Still The Star

For most retailers, the store is the ultimate manifestation of the brand. It’s the place where customers are fully engaged with the brand. And while it’s still the moment of truth for creating transactions, it’s also the time and place for creating a deeper connection with the customer.

Many retail brands have great mobile apps, websites, YouTube channels and social media. But there is often a lack of awareness of these touchpoints. This awareness gap can be bridged by more effectively leveraging the store to tell the brand story, and to let the customer know all the ways they can engage the brand further after leaving the store.

Posted by: Admin AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

By Tracy Robertson - ADFLOW Networks

It’s no surprise that interactive kiosks are popping up all over the retail landscape. Digital interactive kiosks offer innovative ways to interact with your customers, reach target audiences efficiently and thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.

Here are 5 ways interactive kiosks can work for your business:

#1 Help your customers find the right product

Interactive kiosks can help your customers zero in on the right product quickly and easily. Whether its selecting the right pillow, choosing a kids car seat, picking the right GPS system, kiosks can help customers to self-educate and select the right product for their needs without sales assistance. Many customers actually prefer to shop in this fashion without the need to interact with sales people.

#2 Facilitate customer sales efficiently

Interactive kiosks make an excellent sales assistant tool for your customer service representatives. For example, if a customer has a question about a specific product, such as a cell phone, a sales person can lead them over to the interactive kiosk and direct them to the product they are specifically interested in. Simply by touching the screen or scanning a product, the customer can learn about pricing, view different colour options, find buying guides and compare products on the spot. Interactive kiosks supplement the service from your sales person and provide customers with the information they need even when a sales assistant is not immediately available to help.

#3 Reduce "walk-outs"

By keeping your customers engaged, they are less likely to leave the store while waiting for a sales representative to become available. Traffic volumes vary greatly in retail. When customers flood the store, interactive kiosks can begin the education and sales process until sales personnel are free.

#4 Interact with customers in unique ways

As a two-way interaction, interactive kiosks offer a more engaging way to connect with your customers through edutainment or infotainment, such as interactive contests and quizzes. If a customer is looking for a particular product, such as the right pillow for sleeping, a quiz can be useful to help them narrow down the best choice according to their responses. When it comes to answering personal questions, some customers may also prefer the anonymity of the interactive kiosk to answering personal questions posed by a sale person.

#5 Learn about your customers

The data gathered through our interactive kiosks provides our clients with market intelligence on the success of their promotions. It’s possible to see what pages customers engage with and how long they spend on each screen, helping you measure the success of the user experience. You can also track the impact of content changes on the success of the kiosk. Even small changes to content can have a profound impact on user activity.

Simple customer surveys can provide powerful insights into what brought the customer into the store, demographics and product preferences. With customer information and kiosk interaction tracking, the opportunities for continuous learning and improvements are endless.

Provided by ADFLOW Networks

Posted by: Admin AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Joe Holley
VP New Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates

I know most readers are concerned about what’s happening tomorrow and next month and before the end of this year, but there’s a hopeful trend in retail that will bear fruit in the years to come. Companies that began as pure-play online retailers are discovering the power of having physical stores to build their brand.

In some cases plans begin with flagship stores, but for others they signal a more deliberate move into bricks and mortar. Take Warby Parker, a trendy eyewear retailer, for example. They realized a physical presence would be integral to their growth.

The business which began online four years ago now has eight locations either completed or in the works. Their website says, “Our retail spaces combine the snappy ease of online ordering with the fun and serendipity of real-life shopping (with a photo booth or two).”

Warby Parker’s statement is acknowledgement that businesses can develop a base with online shoppers, but growth in select categories requires the kind of awareness, product credibility and experience that a physical presence can achieve. The two channels work together in that customers who make their first purchase in the store may then be comfortable making future purchases online.

What can be achieved when you build a retail presence from the ground up? You can create imaginative spaces. You can have seamless experience between channels from the start. You can create an extraordinary brand experience. You can seize new opportunities.

Unique settings

In repurposing existing spaces, Warby Parker is creating unique store environments that blend the old with the new. In April 2013, Warby Parker opened its flagship store in NYC’s SOHO district. This maiden store features high display shelves, a rolling ladder, and old brass library lamps. The cool, old library vibe is juxtaposed with the most up-to-date technology.

Multi-channel without multiple barriers

Warby Parker intertwined vintage atmosphere and new technology without being bound to a multiplicity of existing systems. The installation of Wi-Fi sensors throughout the store tracks the flow of traffic, customer browsing trends, and product preferences. The customer data collected helps improve the shopping experience both in-store and online.  POS on tablets allows sales associates to move freely about to serve customers where they are.

Built-in experience

In its first foray into bricks and mortar, four-year old online cosmetics retailer Birchbox is devoting the second floor of a new Manhattan store to building community and offering things that can’t be obtained online. They will hold classes on makeup application and skin care and offer styling services. Technology will facilitate the in-store experience. Self-service touchscreens throughout the store will enable customers to input information and pull up relevant, personal product recommendations and reviews.

Space to collaborate

Long-time e-commerce stalwart 1-800 flowers, which realizes 73 percent of its business online and on the phone is adding franchise stores in more markets so it can pursue collaborative business that isn’t easy to achieve with just  an online presence. Among other things, they found they were missing out on business opportunities like weddings and events.

These kinds of retail developments make sense for those young shoppers – the kind who would use Warby Parker’s photo booth. While Millennials are more likely than their parents or grandparents to shop online, 81 percent of their dollars are still spent in stores, according to NPD Group. They still value the experience of shopping and seek entertaining and fun venues. They will use all the channels and switch among them according to their needs and desires.

This pursuit of total retail offerings is a helpful trend.

Posted by: Admin AT 02:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Joe Holley
VP New Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates

Mizuno Golf DisplayShoppers are bringing a set of expectations and a cache of knowledge gleaned from online research through the doors of stores like never before.  New consumer behaviors have impacted especially categories like electronics, books, clothing, household goods and sporting equipment. Numerous studies of multi-channel shoppers make it clear that online research doesn‘t lead just to online purchases. There are plenty of occasions when the store has the final influence on purchase decision.

Increasingly the in-store experience will incorporate tools like touchscreens, digital signage and mobility, but ask any retailer or brand and they will say that merchandising and point-of-purchase displays where the product is the hero are integral to conveying information and making an impression. Products that are prominently and expertly displayed can be a call to action, whether that action is immediate or takes some alternate path.

So what should retailers and brands focus on to create the maximum amount of impact from a display? Here are some of the tips from the pros that are encapsulated in our latest POP guide, Traditional Merchandising in the Age of Self-Service.

Linda Hofflander, director of vertical marketing with the enterprise business division of Samsung:

People get bombarded with signage, and sometimes it’s what is unique or a little bit of a surprise that can be most effective

David Anzia, vice president of sales at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.:

With customers already armed with so much pre-purchase information, retailers have the ability to utilize less copy on their displays. The marketer is able to simplify their message, content copy and photos to distract the customer.

Kevin Lyons, senior vice president of e-commerce with h.h.gregg:

A customer wants to know the most important ways the product will help them, not just everything it does or can do. For example a ‘super radiant heating element’ on a stovetop means nothing to the average consumer, but ‘boils water in 60 seconds’ does! Traditional signage takes on a new role in today’s retail environment as it relates to supporting the mobile customer, those that are researching as well as comparing/reinforcing their purchases.

Dean Cole, brand support manager Mizuno, USA:

If the display can help communicate the benefits of the product and help the consumer visualize how those benefits will improve their experience, the odds of that product being chosen are improved greatly.

Ryan Lepianka, creative director at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.:

Having the ability to touch a product and make a connection with it can beat nearly any other way of selling, and some of the most effective displays the company has designed are those that encourage physical contact.

Posted by: Admin AT 04:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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