|| The Perspective
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA) will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 29-30, 2015.
Louisville, KY (PRWEB) - Networld Media Group today announces the launch of the Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA), which will promote and accelerate the convergence of customer experience technologies and disciplines across all consumer channels.
“The need for ICXA reflects a rising emphasis among brands to create superior customer experiences through multiple technologies,” said Networld Media Group’s CEO, Tom Harper. “Our membership unites professionals from such disciplines as customer experience and service, loyalty, merchandising, marketing, sales, and retail operations.”
Technologies employed by these innovators encompass CRM, POS, digital display, self-service, e- and m-commerce, mobile payment, and much more. ICXA represents a broadening of scope to understand how various technologies can be combined to create unique and unprecedented consumer experiences.
ICXA will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 28-30, 2015. Keynote speakers include Blaine Hurst, EVP of Panera Bread and Paul Price, CEO of Creative Realities.
The soon-to-be-launched ICXA.org website will feature a members-only education archive, including videos, webinars and podcasts covering the association’s educational activities. The site will also offer an industry blog and supplier directory.
To jumpstart its launch, ICXA is merging with and absorbing the full membership of the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA), which had focused previously on the self-service, kiosk, and digital signage technology segments.
“The DSA board is excited about this new direction,” said Bill Lynch, DSA president and new ICXA board member. “The emerging customer experience market encompasses all of our member industries and much more. Our research into market trends and member needs finds most DSA members either expanding into broader customer experience solutions or aligning with partner companies. It became clear that our association must evolve to better serve the expanding needs of our members.”
Existing DSA members will receive full membership in ICXA and enjoy increased benefits with additional learning, networking and peer groups. Technology innovators and suppliers will be invited to participate as instructors in a new online learning series.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Scott Slucher, the new ICXA will continue to expand and develop membership across such industry verticals as banking and payments, retail and restaurant, healthcare, hotel and entertainment, education and government. Slucher brings to his new role many years of professional experience in sales and marketing, digital media, and market research disciplines. His specialty is helping organizations make deeper connections within their industries.
About Networld Media Group
Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the mobile, self-service, digital signage, retail, food service and financial services industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, KioskMarketplace.com, MobilePaymentsToday.com, VirtualCurrencyToday.com, QSRweb.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com and ChurchCentral.com. The company produces executive summits in the fast casual, retail, ATM and mobile payments industries. Its custom media division develops Web sites, premium content and marketing services for associations such as the ATM Industry Association and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.
Saturday, 28 September 2013
By Richard Ventura
Director of Sales – Vertical Solutions for NEC Display Solutions
While digital screens have been deployed in a variety of retail applications such as menu boards in restaurants, digital end caps in electronics stores, directory boards in malls and digital mannequins in clothing stores, the true power of digital has yet to be fully tapped. You may ask, what is that true power? It is the power of full engagement via interactive digital signage.
Traditionally, retailers have used digital signage as a way to run advertising of products and goods with very little integration into store systems. Those that have integrated focus mainly on inventory databases and their point of sales (POS) systems to capture customer data that can be mined to better align with customer preferences. Further, many retailers utilize traditional kiosk systems to allow for online ordering, guest registry access and even for hiring future employees.
What many are missing, though, is how to utilize their systems and capture customer interactions in order to create a full engagement between the brand and the consumer. When looking at interaction and engagement, there are three types: passive, active, and mobile.
In the restaurant space, many brands have deployed customer-facing kiosks where people can place their orders and learn about specials without any human interaction. This is an active way for the brand to interact with the consumer, and increase sales and efficiencies. Following more of a passive way to interact with the consumers, others have deployed “order-ready boards,” where patrons are informed when their meals are complete. While guests wait for their food, they have become a captive audience, a fact not lost on these businesses, which are cross-marketing and up selling various services and goods to them.
Interactive wayfinding kiosks in malls, hotels, airports and other retail businesses let consumers print maps and coupons, make dinner reservations, and purchase goods and services. This creates an engaging experience, even if for only a few seconds, that allows the consumer to fully experience the brand(s).
Forward-thinking businesses also are letting consumers use their smart phones and tablets to interact with digital screens, kiosks, store end caps and video walls. Many top restaurant brands have created iPhone and iPad apps for ordering food selections and counting calories – and through Near Field Communication (NFC), enabling interaction with digital screens themselves for scanning QR codes, downloading coupons and making purchases. Also, many retailers are utilizing these applications to create a virtual store-within-a-store concept. A consumer can pull up reviews, check inventories, place orders, and in some cases, test-drive a product all via their smart phones and tablets.
Research firm DisplaySearch says the market for public displays across industries is showing strong growth, set to push near 12 million units sold in 2018, an increase from just under 3 million in 2011. DisplaySearch’s Jennifer Colegrove asserts, “Touchscreen penetration is rapidly increasing. Over the next several years, touchscreens will undergo strong growth in large-size applications.”
Through these devices and technologies, retailers gain opportunities to engage customers and build relationships. But as the phenomenon of interactivity grows, the question about customer service looms large. Is customer interaction with machines better for brands than dealing with company employees?
From my perspective, the answer has more to do with customers and supplying them more options than to say that human interaction is always better. Interactive digital screens can empower customers to bond with a brand in ways that they choose and in ways that enhance their retail experiences.
As we’ve seen more and more, some people would rather shop online than walk into a brick-and-mortar store. When these types of people do step into stores, they prefer to shop on their own, peruse in-store kiosks for more information, make their purchases and leave as soon as possible. Salespeople won’t impact what they want to buy or have the opportunity to upsell additional items.
But there are others who want that personal attention. The upshot is that the retailer can match the demands of a variety of consumers where and how they want to interact with the brand. These options give retailers a better chance to capture more of an audience. Interactive technologies introduce a new dynamic to selling.
Some stores are availing themselves of this new dynamic.
Best Buy, for example, has introduced interactive kiosks in airports to sell iPods, headphones, game cubes and other technologies. It’s the “big box” retailer’s way of meeting the needs of the marketplace by giving people options on how and where to buy. At the same time, it continues to offer its bricks-and- mortar department stores and the Best Buy Mobile stores.
Apple has done a phenomenal job of making sure that before a buyer can close out a sale online, in a store, or through its IOS application, that options for cables and extended warranties appear and are part of the sales equation. That breeds additional sales.
While these are some of the best practices, the retail industry still has to make progress, according to a recent study. SapientNitro’s Insight 2013 Report indicates that most retailers are failing when it comes to deploying digital signage and interactive technologies. Just 22% were rated as truly interactive with a value-add beyond just merchandizing or a display.
Here’s how to make the interactive experience relevant:
- Deliver the right content and messaging
- Design a technologically sound kiosk that people will be drawn to
- Deliver a meaningful experience.
If the interaction with a kiosk or digital screen is “bumpy,” or if consumers have to scroll through too many products to place an order, they will walk away. There needs to be a way to guide them through the process with a series of questions and interactions, and their time must be respected
An interactive system built on good design, tied to other sales channels and offering a solid customer experience will increase sales.
Here are the questions retailers need to ask themselves before deploying interactive digital signage:
- What are our goals and strategies?
- How will we execute the plan?
- How will we measure results?
- Who will support our interactive system?
- How will we expand the deployment?
- What types of technologies will be used?
- Who will manage the content?
- How do we keep the content fresh and impactful?
The question is not whether to deploy interactive technologies, but when, and to have the plan in place to do so.
Watching young children interact with technology is a particularly noteworthy barometer. Whenever they encounter a computer screen, their expectations are that it is interactive. A touch mentality is so ingrained in this generation that it should give retailers pause. These little patrons are the formation of a digital interactive society.
This article was originally published in Retail Merchandiser magazine.
Tuesday, 09 July 2013
By David Anzia, Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.
Two big motivators are pushing retailers to transcend walled-off commerce and implement omni-channel strategies. The first is connected consumers who have expectations of both individualized and seamless interactions with retailers. The second is the pressure certain retailers are feeling from shoppers engaged in showrooming and the unrelenting competition from online retailers like Amazon, who are the beneficiaries of that behavior.
You need only to attend a retail conference or engage a few retail executives in conversation to understand the need for speed in overcoming infrastructure hurdles to erase the barriers between consumer touchpoints. More than half of respondents to RSR’s 2013 Cross Channel Benchmark survey feel consumer expectations outpace their ability to deliver on a consistent retail experience.
On the consumer-facing side of this retail upheaval, continuity of experience – enabled by engaging interactive merchandising, a choice of self-service options and informed assisted selling – will be the driver for garnering the loyalty of digitally savvy Millennial shoppers. Those are the shoppers that will account for nearly a third of retail sales by the end of the decade.
As an in-store merchandising company whose projects often involve bridging retail channels, it is clear to us that omni-channel retailing offers benefits that transcend the challenges of implementation. Beyond the infrastructure changes and organizational realignments required is a vision for attracting and retaining high value customers and driving greater sales.
Improved Customer Perception
Customers expect integration and will become impatient waiting for it to become a reality. The blurring of channels isn’t just a retail phenomenon. It is advancing into other aspects of consumers’ lives like entertainment, where two-screen viewing is becoming a behavioral norm. Retailers are in a transitional time where speed of implementation can be differentiating and brand-building or slow response can be frustrating and damaging.
Retailers who have inventory visibility and availability in the customer’s channel of choice have a better opportunity to complete the sale. The proof of this tenant is in the success of department store shopping kiosks and category tablet kiosks that give shoppers access to a wider selection and provide multiple points of access to complete the purchase. Consumers who shop across channels are actually spending more with their favorite retailers.
Better Data Collection
Visibility across channels means a more customized experience. Retailers that can track customers across channels and understand preferences can better serve their customers. They also gain insights into crafting offers that motivate customers to get out from behind their screens and engaged in store, where the likelihood of impulse purchase is greater.
An omni-channel strategy can arm store associates with tools that increase access to information and promote efficiency. Tablets have become the front line of defense against customers armed with more information than store employees and a great offense for turning customer data into loyalty-building service.
There are benefits and best practices involved in the use of technologies – tablets, smartphones and touchscreens – that are the face of omni-channel retailing for consumers. The Convergence of the Connected Consumer and Omni-channel Retailing is a new resource we’re offering. It examines how retailers can take advantage of these tools to carry out their omni-channel strategies.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
By Bill Lynch
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and began working in my family's grocery store at the age of 12. I learned a lot during that time and still retain the title as the world's best grocery bagger! It drives me bonkers to watch other people bag my groceries with no regard to forming a proper base and making sure the fragile items are not crushed!!
Sorry, I got a little sidetracked. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, lessons from the old days.
At that time, access to information on product sales, the competitive environment, etc. was limited to the trade magazines and the direct sales people. Sales people were a strategic source of information for my father and his employees. They brought with them a plethora of product brochures, planograms and selling or promotional tips.
Upon graduating college, my father urged me to look outside the grocery industry for a job. To this day, I'm not sure whether he was more concerned with me expanding my horizons, or simply trying to protect the food industry. I found myself in an entry-level sales position calling on banks and credit unions. Frankly, not much had changed over the years and one learned how to cold call, build relationships, close the sale and so on. The sales person was the primary representative of the company and the marketing department's role was to generate interest and create selling tools for the sales force. In many companies, it was common for the marketing and sales departments to be at odds and continually complaining about the other.
Obviously, it all began to change in the mid-90s with the Internet and in the past 10 years, social media and mobile have greatly accelerated that change. A customer's relative isolation to information has been eliminated and the buying process has changed dramatically. Customers are smarter about trends, competition and pricing. The need to talk to a sales person about these topics or 'features and benefits' no longer exists.
They are educating themselves long before you, the supplier, are even aware they may have a need. They're reviewing sites, searching Twitter and listening to webinars. They're gathering the information and identifying those companies who demonstrate an understanding of the issues long before they speak with a sales person. Marketing is playing a much bigger role in providing that information than ever before.
Subsequently, the role of the sales person is also changing. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson have addressed in their book, The Challenger Sale, the aspects of what makes a good sales person in the new world. They note that sales people have to move from order-taking closers to becoming a trusted consultant who can provide insight and direction. The best sales people are those who've educated themselves on multiple topics to provide added value to the customer. Sometimes, as the book title indicates, the salesperson must challenge a customer's strategy and suggest alternatives.
As you observe kiosk, digital signage and mobile companies, one would assume a technology company would be attuned to these changes and adjusting their sales/marketing approach accordingly. But one would assume incorrectly. Too many companies in our industry are still entrenched in the old beliefs that marketing generates leads and simply hands them off to a sales person. The sales person then takes them through a 'process' to close the sale. They still believe that marketing's only role is to support sales. In fact, many companies have yet to combine sales and marketing under one leader.
The smarter companies are more closely aligning the two departments. They're working together to monitor the marketplace and looking beyond their own product focus to identify new opportunities and threats. Smart companies understand that Marketing's role has expanded and they need to play a larger role in the sales process. They need to help educate both the customer and the sales person.
But what do you do if your company hasn't made the shift in strategy?
First and foremost, you don't wait for them. You take the initiative to begin educating yourself so that you can become a better resource for your co-workers and your customers. You take the time each day to improve your knowledge of the markets by reviewing websites, attending webinars and reading whitepapers.
Make the time and effort to network throughout the omnichannel industry. You need to educate yourself on the adjacent industries to truly understand the challenges and opportunities. An expert in kiosks isn't of much value if they don't understand the impact of digital signage and mobile. By talking and not just sending a LinkedIn requests, with others in our industry, you'll gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight.
Engage and help your industry! Attending tradeshows and getting involved with your relevant associations is critical. (Disclaimer: I'm active member of the Digital Screenmedia Association and believe all of you reading this article also should be members. Really.) I'm a strong believer that engagement is a smart investment and the professional and personal rewards are tremendous.
Broaden your education. Read more. The book I mentioned previously is a great place to start. But don't forget to revisit the classics from Paco Underhill, Tom Peters and Dale Carnegie. Read more fiction! You can learn a lot from Jason Bourne and Dr. Seuss. Attend online classes. Many of them are free and taught by world-renowned professors
Just as the lines separating mobile, kiosks and digital signage have blurred and overlapped, our organizations must modify to meet the demands of the new customer. Changing belief systems as to how sales and marketing will work in the future is not easy. It takes patience, education and persistence to form a cohesive team. If you wish to stay relevant and profitable, you'll start that change today.