Blog: Lyle Bunn 
Lyle Bunn (bio)
Strategy Architect
Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The answer to confusion is always “no”. As product selection at the retail shelf is, by definition, a source of confusion for consumers, brands have a significant opportunity for point-of-purchase conversion through shelf level or service counter promotion.

When connecting the dots that represent the information and touch points on the ever-changing path to purchase, they ultimately converge at the shelf level. Even online ordering, the ever-increasing torture of physical space retailing with its “show-rooming”, is supported by shelf level media. The culture of shopping is moving forward as consumers seek information, inspiration, ever-changing stories that put the product in the context of their needs, wants, life and events.

In a session titled “The Future of Engagement” at the recent symposium hosted by the Digital Screenmedia Association, Jim Crawford, CEO of Chute Gerdeman and Ethan Whitehill, CEO of TwoWest provided insights about the retail experience. “Every store has a story,” Whitehill said. “How do you tell that story with technology? How do we enhance that story for the shopper?”

“Retail is mostly through brick-and-mortar stores, in large part because the in-store experience still provides utility, a sense of community and meaning” the panelists agreed. “Shopping happens because of the task, and the treat,” Whitehill said. “Brick and mortar delivers that better than any other experience.”

The two paramount marketing media questions that serve as the basis for action by the brand are a) Will consumers see the promotional message? And b) Will the message activate their action?

A resounding “yes” is the response to shelf level digital media. Dynamic media at the retail shelf reduces the “friction” at this most important of all points on the sometimes eclectic, always evolving path to purchase. Messaging that amplifies the brand identity and its promise at the point where the consumers hand moves products from a shelf to their cart, or places an order at a service counter deliver the prize that brands seek, including selection for trial or next use.

Many marketers, and consumers, believe that the consumer is at the center of the universe with buying power being a gravitational force that influences all brand and supply chain behavior. Emboldened by social media, consumers are happy to make brands feel the laurels or darts of their behavior.

Brand perception on the part of a consumer plays out at the store shelf. Appeal, distain or indifference motivate product selection, as the marriage of convenience between brand and retailer works to device and execute sufficiently capable branding and promotional communications.

The arsenal of point-of-purchase instruments is fairly limited, typically including package design, shelf positioning, attractive pricing or some nearby static signs that aim to earn attention.

The retail shelf has been coined as the First Moment of Truth by Dina Howell, which proposed that all elements of marketing and promotion should be defined from shelf level interaction and then including merchandising, promotion, advertising and branding campaigns.

In a September 21, 2005 article on page 1 of the Wall Street Journal titled, “In a Shift, Marketers Beef Up Spending Inside Stores”, Procter and Gamble Co. reflected its belief that “shoppers make up their mind about a product selection in about the time it takes to read this [sentence].” Dina Howell, as Director, First Moment of Truth (FMOT, pronounced EFF-mot), at Procter & Gamble, said “P&G wants to connect with consumers when and where they are most receptive to information about P&G Brands. We want to delight the consumer as well as simplify the shopping experience.” She said, “Working with retailers is pivotal to P&G success”, Ms. Howell added, “The store must be an extension of the brand and we must work in collaboration with retailers at that critical first moment of truth when a consumer makes the purchase decision”.

FMOT defines the point of product selection as the starting point for consumer goods marketing. In short, by appealing to consumer’s senses, values and emotions at the specific point of purchase, marketers can convert browsers to buyers and give their product the best chance of selection.

This “first moment of truth” as coined by P&G Acknowledges the decline in effectiveness of broadcast ad spending, the growing importance of retail media in the marketing mix, improved measurement capability and most importantly, the effectiveness of point-of-purchase and out-of-home ad display.

By inverting this marketing communications funnel, P&G has turned the questions to focus on achieving highest Return on Objectives. They ask, “In starting at the point of selection, how should we invest to achieve planned sales volumes and margins?” The basis of the planning and decision framework shifts to the achievement of effectiveness of “customer engagement” and relationship.

Retail marketing in this century harkens the important shift in 1694, when Galileo very successfully, and against established powers, that the sun was the center with planets and moons revolving around it, rather than the Earth being at the center.

In marketing, the brand has been central, but successful marketers accept that it is the consumer that is at the center, with brand options and the communications of each revolving around that buying power.

“The importance to growth of any brand is driven primarily by in-store visibility, consumer shop-ability and information that drives purchase decision,” says Jean-Pierre Lacroix, President, Shikatani Lacroix.

Russell Young, SVP, Interactive and Mobile Experiences at retail and dynamic media provider Stratacache says “Whether you call it the Point of Influence, or the Final Moment of Truth, there is no denying the importance of creating inspiration at the retail shelf level. Savvy brands and retailers realize this important point in the customer journey and continue to seek out innovative methods for driving conversion during these precious few seconds. The key to success in optimizing this shelf level engagement is to convey value in a subtle manner that feels natural in that specific environment.”

“Creating digital at-purchase moments is one of the most effective ways to influence purchase decision in-store, “notes Marcos Terenzio, Director, Digital Experience, Shikatani Lacroix.

The value of shelf-level dynamic signage, says Laura Davis-Taylor SVP, Director of Omnichannel Experience of The Integer Group, a member of the Publicis Omnicom Group of agencies, is “In being able to capture, connect and close in one fell swoop. The uniqueness of it can effectively capture attention unlike no other POP. It’s truly can’t miss. The attraction and content and call to action (CTA) can close them by answering their questions and lighting up their impulse propensity—sometimes in mere seconds”.

She adds, “It has worked well when ensuring that the way that the shopper encounters it is contextual to what they are trying to solve at the moment—in that particular store, in that category with that specific product”. By enabling consumer browsing, comparison, researching and selecting items in retail, it fits between Pre-Tail® when consumers research and choose a store or website, and Post-Tail® beyond the purchase moment and product use”.

Andy McRae, General Manager of Eot2Dot Communications, Inc. that provides the popular Scala content management platform and its additional capacities for third party advertising management, is a strong proponent for digital at and near-shelf media.

McRae says “We have long felt that shelf level media is possibly the most important step in the path to purchase. Being able to influence the purchase decision at the shelf allows retailers to maximize value. Using a combination of omnichannel capability, real time networked appliances and displays, and advanced analytics capable of changing content to fit the situation gives retailer ultimate control over the shopper’s experience”.

“Devices such as Electronic Shelf labels (ESLs) provide retailers with an easy way to change messaging, including pricing, based on any number of data inputs. Understanding the influences on a purchase decision is only half the equation. Having a system that allows changes to be made based on those influences, especially if it is automatic, completes the process” he notes.

“Dynamic pricing has long been the ultimate goal for most industries, but retail in particular” declares McRae, adding “The advent of inexpensive, low power Electronic Shelf Labels combined with the robust content management system, and advanced purchase analytics offered by Scala have finally brought this from a manual process based on guesses to a highly automated process guided by facts”.

Says McRae, “More and more often retailers are asking for intelligent data driven communications networks for their store environments. These systems must offer purchase analytics, real time content update capability, integration with point of sale systems, and comprehensive result measurement. The displays themselves now range from large spectacular outdoor and outside –store viewable video walls designed to attract people into the store, to the very small Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) aimed at influencing the actual purchase decision”.  McRae speculates that “It is estimated that in the next 5 years, as much as 50% of purchases will be made on-line, or through mobile and social commerce so it is critical that any shelf level media have a mobile tie-in as a way of extending the shopping experience across multiple channels”.

“Shoppers are looking for retailers to connect with them, make it easier to search, plan and purchase. We have been working with brands to capture data from on-shelf interactive displays, using it to measure business results and improve marketing strategies” he said, adding “it’s all about strategy, scalability and relevancy. Our goal is always to make it easier for retailers to communicate and interact with today’s shoppers using the most advanced technology platforms.”

The Laurentien Bank has installed small screens horizontally under glass at the teller station. “This allows the client being served and signing paper such as deposits in front of the teller to see the digital screen messages with bank-related content, “ said Benoit Johnson, CEO of Montreal-based provider Viftele, which provides digital signage for the bank. “This screen allows the bank to have less small static signs at this specific space and the customers are presented with a hard to avoid message.”

“Empowering the consumer to have control and access to product information easily and conveniently is the key to their decision regarding what they buy. The value of shelf level digital media is that it is convenient and dynamic, and is a useful alternative to the mobile device though it can be used in conjunction with mobile to increase the brand reach” says Suzana Spratley, CEO of the digital engagement agency TechTAP.

Spratley adds, “It is all about the connected consumer having control over their choices in an easy and convenient way. By placing the choice for the consumer in a digital medium at shelf height, the brand will offer more than one key decision point; for example price as well as product features, benefits, ingredients, alternate uses, etc. Better choices bond consumers to brands and build advocates.” She emphasizes, “Brands must engage, inform and enhance the experience in a convenient and useful way”.

Displays are being used that maximize shelf space and do not displace any product frontage while being installed and operated.

A popular shelf dynamic display device is provided by Regency Digital. Vice president Abraham d’Ancona says, “The merchant is offered the opportunity to connect with the consumer. It reinforces the brand while maximizing shelf space and point-of-purchase consumer messaging that adds a sense of excitement, immediacy and urgency. In doing so,” adds d’Ancona, “it engages the patron to fulfill their needs and wants while also motivating product trial or an impulse buy. It is all about shopper conversion and product selection.”

The shelf video strip from Regency Digital includes multiple 2 x 4 inch video panels in a 1-inch deep housing that attaches easily to any retail shelf horizontally or vertically. Individual screens are able to play independently or in conjunction with each other and can be subdivided allowing for full color, high resolution video, animation, stills, QR codes or other engagement media. The device includes the display strip, a 2-inch cube media player that accommodates Wi-Fi or USB media loading, a mounting bracket and connection cables.

European retailers have already embraced shelf level dynamic media for more than two years, enabled by retail support agencies with retailer and brand relationships as well as experience with in-store merchandising /advertising or POP. “The most successful applications” says d’Ancona “has been where the shelf level video strip is the at-shelf element of a campaign that involved other promotion media. Products that have done especially well using shelf level video include new and aspirational products as well as market leading brands in consumables such as diapers, baby formula, chocolate, cosmetics, beverages, in particular when used in larger retail chains. Marketers who care about success in the retail store now have the tool that they need to generate more stock turns and gain market share over competitors at the retail shelf.”

“Getting the buyers attention has never been tougher, with so much messaging that it can just be noise to the buyer, that is why the video bar is so effective, it’s unique eye catching format at the point of decision engages the customer literally at his/her point of decision and delivers the motivation to buy” notes Mike White, CEO of Multi-media Solutions, which has provided digital signage for award winning retail applications such as duty free shops at the Shoppes at Ocean Drive at Miami International Airport.

D’Ancona notes that the Regency Digital video strip is being used on a constant basis in two of the leading retailer supermarkets and drug stores, and that brands tend to use the shelf level video strip on an ongoing basis after an initial trial.

Jose Avalos, Director, Visual Retail, Retail Solutions Division for Intel Corporation in the Embedded & Communications Group concludes “Digital Signage as an ingredient can be transformational to numerous product categories like Interactive Whiteboards for education, Digital jukeboxes for hospitality and transparent displays for supermarkets, among others. In the retail sector it is understood that 68% of all purchases are unplanned and 70% of brand choices are made at the shelf. The advent of Intelligent Shelving  with integrated advertising and information content can fulfill a much more active role where it understands shopper needs, understands the product or products it is showcasing, and uses enhanced capabilities to participate more fully in the selling process. And it can do this in a way that is highly personalized, including the use of personalized pricing and promotions”. He adds “For manufacturers, an intelligent shelf can create data-led sales and marketing opportunities and help them better understand who is buying their products, and who is not. It can also maximize profit for the retailer by optimizing pricing dynamically, and enable manufacturers and retailers to reward shopper loyalty, all at the shelf edge”.

The consumer is at the center of the universe and that most essential of marketing success points, the moment of truth, is the retail shelf. Brand campaigns, retailer policy and the supply of shelf level display must align. As they do, the shopper will deliver benefits to all.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon) is an analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s digital out-of-home industry. He has been recognized with six industry awards, helped hundreds of organizations to take advantage of dynamic signage, has published almost 300 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks, and has helped to train more than 10,000 media and supply professionals.

Posted by: Admin AT 03:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Digital out of home messaging brings tremendous economies and agility to branding and promotional marketing. Messages can be created quickly often using graphic, animation and text elements that are used elsewhere in campaigns. And unique messages can be created to suit the target audience, display location, time of day and reflecting the context in which the message would be viewed, such as major holidays, events, weather conditions and world events.

But this ease of message creation places a burden of clarity on the marketer or communicator.

The simple question is “are we clear?”.

The message must achieve intended results, and the minimal amount of information required to achieve this always makes for the best digital out of home use.

The medium can, and should be used to achieve multiple goals simultaneously.

As a minimum, the message should include the identity of the product or service being offered, its core value proposition (i.e. benefit) and a call to action, which might include a telephone number, web address or invitation to engage with product/service/event information through TXT, download or mobile commerce.

When the intention is to increase brand awareness and recall, the primary message elements would include brand identity, tagline, value proposition and other information that allows a viewer to align with and aspire to the brand.

A promotional or merchandising message would seek to achieve viewer response with the promise of value that matters to the viewer. Examples include attractive pricing, selection, ease in getting the value, the benefits of improved life and fun.

Message benefits are maximized when the message is visually appealing and easy to read.

Our brains are hardwired to notice motion, and so the visual appeal should include animation that will attract the eye even unconsciously. Viewers will pay attention and “ingest” messages that they believe are relevant to their wants or needs, and they will unconsciously ignore messages that are not.

Content creation traps that must be avoided include:

  •     A lack of visual that easily represents the product or service
  •     Too much information, beyond what is required to achieve the outcome
  •     Text that is to small to read from the intended viewing distance
  •     Use of background and text coloration that make the content challenging to ingest.
  •     An unsuitable length of message relative to the viewing experience. Two short causes viewer frustration (and de-brands), while messages that are too long minimize the opportunity to make best use of display capability.

Generating engagement on the path to purchase can be achieved with simple messaging when the answer to the question “are we clear?” is “yes!”

Lyle Bunn is an analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s digital place-based media sector who has assisted hundreds of organizations to gain advantage from the medium, and who has helped to train thousands of professionals.

Posted by: Admin AT 09:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 01 February 2012
This summary of the National Retail Federation's (NRF) BIG Show in January is through the lens of the value and directions of digital in-store and dynamic place-based media to improving the success of brands and retailers. While the marquis theme of the event was "Engage and Evolve," the three retail industry priorities of technology, engagement and talent were reflected by many exhibitors, retail sector briefing reports and in conference sessions. Sections in this article include:

•    NRF event perspectives
•    Retail and technology
•    Engagement - Bricks, Clicks and Picks
•    Digital in-store
•    Analytics & in-store media
•    Storytelling
•    Talent
•    Outlook
The National Retail Federation (NRF) indicates that retail contributes $1.2 trillion in direct GDP in 2009 including food services and drinking places. Direct employment is 28.1 million. There are 3.6 million establishments, 95% or 3.42 million of which are one location businesses. There are 917,000 locations of multi-location retailers. The NRF projects a 3.4% increase in 2012. Directly and indirectly, retail accounts for 11.9% of all business establishments in the USA, supporting 1 in 4 (42 million) American jobs and contributing $2.42 trillion to annual GDP. 

Online retail is currently $176 billion, 3% of annual retail revenues, having grown by 11% over the previous year according to Forrester Research, however this is projected to grow to 11% in the next five years.

Digital media exhibitors at NRF included 30 providers of digital in-store media including industry-leading suppliers such as NEC, Stratacache, Hughes, Harris, AOpen and YCD and Scala at the HP booth. Dynamic media exhibitors were busy throughout the show. Many other suppliers attended to connect and learn.

Kevin Lawrence VP, enterprise sales of Broadcast International, which serves organizations such as Bank of America, Microsoft and Hollister, commented that "the NRF event was great because it validated what we are hearing from so many of our customers. They want to leverage digital media to better inform, influence, and educate both customers and employees. They expect solutions that provide a more interactive and engaging customer experience by embracing touch, sound, mobility, and more. They demand analytics that allow them to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns and they want to work with a single partner to accomplish it all."

The Intel product showcase was elbow to elbow throughout as they demonstrated a dozen advanced applications currently in use by brands and retailers such as HSN, Kraft Foods, Macy’s, adidas, the LEGO Group, Petrobras and others. A 3D aerial imaging kiosk profiling Coca Cola reflected the Intel partnership with Provision, the leader in commercial application holographic display.

Intel also included a new prototypes through its partnership with Inwindow Outdoor, an interactive digital out-of-home advertising company that has developed street-level storefront interactive advertising campaigns for American Express, HBO, Ford, HP, Microsoft and NBC. The Intel/Inwindow Outdoor prototype, being called the "Experience Stations" engages consumers through information presentation and interaction (multi-touch and gestural). The slick prototype incorporates a large-format 70-inch touchscreen display and near field communication (NFC) capability for two-way transactions with mobile devices. The Experience Station can also enable users to take and send pictures, download coupons to their phone using NFC, connect to social media sites, check the weather, and look up information. When users approach the screen, the system's cameras use Intel's real-time analytics software (Intel uite), which detects gender and age and then plays targeted advertising based on the audience demographic. Analytics are at the heart of The Experience Stations, which provides metrics on audience count, impressions, level of engagement and dwell time.

Several exhibitors demonstrated closed-loop systems of message presentation, mobile opt-in, coupon offer and redemption with analytics at each step in the commercial process. The Intel AIM Suite of Anonymous Viewer Analytics is typically integrated with all major digital signage content management software systems.

Scott Hines, president of CopiaMobile succinctly outlined the benefits of such closed systems, including the Wave2Save experience:
  • The multi-media, multi-channel approach incorporates message presentation, mobile detection and offer, opt-in and sales activation in a turnkey solution with a strong foundation of analytics at each stage of consumer engagement.
  • It leverages available digital media infrastructures to deliver higher ROI to retailers and brands.
  • No character entry or scanning a QR code is needed to activate engagement – although these can be added.
  • The experience is multi-sensory including visual and auditory with the cell phone making a whooshing sound during wave and cheering when offers are redeemed.
  • A tactile experience is offered with the phone vibrating when offers "land" in the phone and waving your hand provides a physical experience.
  • The system bridges the physical and the virtual world creates a much more compelling interaction for consumers.
  • It's easy to get consumers to adopt an experience that they enjoy.
  • Tying the wave experience into creating user-generated content, where the consumer actually participates in the campaign gives the consumer benefit beyond just offering them a discount.
  • Gives retailers a way to incent consumers without giving away gross margin.
Similar systems are available from iSign, MobileGreeter, ComQi, YCD and others and it is clear that mobile marketing platforms such as Foursquare, Bee Marketing and others can and will integrate message presentation display into the mobile ecosystem. Digital Signage Expo (March 5-9, Las Vegas) and Customer Engagement Technology World (March 28-29 San Francisco) are expected to feature these display/mobile/analytics multi-channel systems prominently.

Retail and technology: Retail is focused on providing people with what they need and want including products, goods-related services and experiences. It is a highly competitive industry given the effects of the economic climate, consumer preferences, supply chains and technology upon it. Customer satisfaction and retention are the top strategic initiatives for retail notes a Retail Horizons Benchmark study which reflects that loyalty programs, group buying, localized coupon offers and transparent price comparison are increasing competition among retailers.

The retail sector is similar to manufacturing, distribution, health care and financial services in having used digital technologies to gain operational efficiencies. But the retail sector is poised as no other industry to exploit digital technologies for sustainable revenue growth through its use of digital technologies for customer relationship management and business analytics. Technology investments are the second largest expenditure by retailers behind inventory according to 2011 report Retail Horizons: Benchmark 2010. Retail and technology are natural partners – not just because of the symbiotic win-win relationship, but because each industry is continuously reinvesting and refining itself to better serve its clientele.

Charles Darwin said, "The fittest win out at the expense of their rivals." On that theme, the retailers and brands that exploit the enabling value of technology will have the competitive edge.

A large audience was held spellbound during airing of the 5-minute video by Corning called "A Day Made of Glass" aired by Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation.

"Retailers are living in hell because of the uncertainty, constant focus on cost, benefits and testing, and because of the options available to them," declared Joel. He added, "Retailers that are daunted by options will fail due to death by analysis paralysis."   

Joel continued, "At this point, successful retailers have already moved forward with digital strategies and have embraced multi-channel. They are looking to new ways where digital can increase insights, engagements, loyalty and brand-building."

Engagement - bricks, clicks and picks. Seventy percent of Americans shop multi-channel including in-store, online and mobile. Retailers and brands are responding with a shift from transactional to experiential marketing, while assuring maximum "fidelity" – consistent brand messaging. The paradigm shift is occurring from multi-channel to omni-channel engagement, which reflects the melding of the engagement experience between the retailer/brand and the consumer.

Digital in-store media bridges bricks (the physical environment), clicks (online information and commerce), and picks (consumer selection and its influencers). It also turns presence into engagement.

Seventy-one percent of retail executives say that shoppers want a meaningful experience with the sales associate as brand ambassador with strong product knowledge and the ability to upsell and cross-sell for greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, according to a Deloitte industry survey.

Many presenters spoke of the need to improve their advertising plans to shift media buying investment away from "renting eyeballs" and into owning audiences. Many retail executives, including Lauren and Bonnie Brooks reinforced the priority of shifting to "brand demand" messaging from brand awareness involving more experiential and social media.

Experience has shown that when retailers use displays technologies for both customer and staff-facing messaging, revenues are maximized. In retail categories such as technology, cellular and sporting goods in which associated-assisted sales are significant, digital in-store media provides and reinforces value while queuing associate assistance.

This direction encompasses linking bricks, clicks and picks to assure that customers receive a seamless shopping experience between physical locations, online and mobile. 

By showcasing product range and attributes using more advanced in-store digital presentation and interactive media, retailers look to exciting brand perception and the selection and purchase location.

Digital in-store: "It is not about advertising," noted Mitch Joel. "It is about publishing messages, information and stories to the world – or those in it that you most want to engage with and with you." 

Digital in-store media is a transition from passive marketing to more successful active marketing he indicated, adding that digital and analytics are a bolt-on utility. It can typically be added to existing infrastructure and available space, and can deliver immediate results and insights. It is a high-payback medium.

Joel characterized the broadcast medium of TV and print as passive, detached and physical in comparison to the active, connected, virtual and high-engagement characteristics of interactive media.

Analytics & in-store media: Several presenters asked in show of hands survey how many had seen the movie Moneyball. The 2011 movie recounts the transition of professional baseball to an analytics-driven industry. A quote by Mickey Mantle starts the film: "It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life."  

Analytics serve to validate investment and optimize campaigns and digital media content related to target audiences toward better communications spending and improving the productivity of retail floor space.

Metrics help to define and refine business objectives, move beyond "the technology" into its application and allows initiatives to be made into "chewable bites."

Workforce analytics and predictive modeling are of growing priority.

A massive transition to analytics and the integration of analytics into operations is expected. Consumer engagement is a "moneyball" world in which analytics drive investment decisions.

This transition to operationalizing analytics recognizes that information is powerful and uses the levels of abstraction of analytics to gain insights as these grow from data to statistics, information and knowledge toward wisdom.

Storytelling: "Digital innovations is unleashing business, technology and systems," said David Lauren, executive vice president of advertising, marketing, and corporate communications of Ralph Lauren Corp. "Our success is anchored in 'merchant-tainment' – the seamless blending of merchandising and storytelling." Lauren outlined how storytelling with images and visuals is manifested in Ralph Lauren branding and merchandising by creating lifestyle aspiration and presenting how this could be fulfilled by Ralph Lauren offerings. Storytelling leads audiences to question "what happened?" and "what if?" which beg engagement with the brand.

Storytelling has been a staple of TV that was transposed onto still imagery and therefore into print (think fashion magazine ads) and more recently onto websites. "The retail community priority of storytelling is to reinforce the brand in the store," noted Lauren. This is well served by digital media that can present images beautifully and trigger mobile, audience-of-one engagement. "A flat screen," said Lauren, "should not scare someone away or discount the excitement or value of a product, but engage and excite the consumer through the message. Excitement happens by reaching an audience of demographic and psychographic profile with images, messages and stories that resonate with and inspire them."

In-store display content can include a wide range of messages that inform and influence. Increasingly, dynamic signage content presents Accuweather or uses links to databases, point-of-sale or other internal systems to make content interesting and relevant.

Talent: "The successful retail model focuses on technology, engagement and talent," said Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO of The Bay (Hudson’s Bay Company). The 3,000 NRF delegates who attended her keynote address took notice that The Bay is the oldest retailer in the world, and applauded The Bay’s accomplishment of the best sales increase in December of any retailer in North America. She echoed other speakers on the importance of technology, engagement and talent.

Digital media networks have been used for staff communications and development for many years. Digital media providers such as Hughes, Microspace, Broadcast International and others deliver a strong value proposition to retailers looking to cost-effectively train and motivate staff.

The increased use of digital media for customer messaging has often incorporated the use of the infrastructure for staff communications and development.

The retailer focus on its talent naturally looks to leveraging marketing communications capability. This multi-use of in-store media for consumer, management and staff communications points to a higher value proposition and ROI from digital media investment.

Outlook: Retailers are taking a big-picture view to the five Ws (who, what, where, when, why) for technology enabled branding and revenue achievement. They are focusing in particular on the why while simultaneously defining and refining their corporate directions, positioning and goals.

Digital in-store media indeed does work in achieving business, communications and engagement goals. But because of the time and investment required, it must be scalable, providing return on investment ultimately at the enterprise level for brand and loyalty building, not just benefits at the transaction level.
Anu Gulta, VP process and profit improvement for Michaels summed up the sentiments of NRF delegates well with the following four priorities of all retail activities and investments:
•    Enhance the brand
•    Increase consumer reach and loyalty
•    Gather and act on insights
•    Drive multi-channel engagement
NRF was very exciting when viewed through the lens of digital media. Strong vendors are engaging with innovative retailers and the analytics that underpin digital media are helping to validate digital media investment. 2012 could be expected to be a year of retail sector advancement with and through digital in-store media.
Posted by: Lyle Bunn AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Thursday, 23 October 2008
We’ve all seen them when entering a retail store: the small displays placed at ceiling level at the store entrance that show security footage, letting all who enter know that they are being watched. But while screens designed for loss prevention can deter theft, unfortunately, they can also be insulting or set an inhospitable tone for patrons.

Through the use of digital signage, displays used for loss prevention can also be used to run content that creates brand loyalty and encourages sales lift through, promotions, digital merchandising and cross-selling.

In essence, one screen is used for multiple purposes. First, running dynamic and relevant content will serve traditional digital signage roles such as welcoming patrons and serving as advertising space. Interspersed with that content is live security footage designed to curb theft.

The technology could be a welcomed one for the retail industry. Total retail losses are approximately $37.4 billion annually, with shoplifting conservatively estimated to account for 30 to 40 percent of total retail shrink/losses, according to University of Florida and Hayes International surveys.

Often times, shoplifting and theft directly by or enabled by staff can be a bigger problem for retailers than shopper theft. Surveyed companies apprehended one in every 27.9 employees for theft, based on 1.85 million employees. On a per-case average, dishonest employees steal approximately 6.6 times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($851.44 vs. $128.71).

Fight crime with content

No good examples of multi-purpose displays for loss prevention yet exist, although several large retailers are investigating possible approaches. The potential that exists to use one system to support the goals of the other, as well as optimize staffing, store layout and merchandising, is yet to be realized.

But even before integration of the technology infrastructure, the content alone can provide an improvement.

Even a one-second message integrated into the loss prevention display could gain attention, (probably more than the security view alone), to welcome customers and enable the transition into shopping and buying mode. The message could be the store logo, brand tag line or short promotional ad. In addition to welcoming the customer and potentially delivering ad revenues, such messages could serve to complicate thieves' attempts to determine camera angles and unviewed areas of the store.

Content on digital signage displays can help achieve loss prevention goals, in particular with the inherent ability to daypart and schedule message presentation. 

Before store opening, staff can be targeted with messages aimed at reducing internal theft. Content could aim to reinforce their awareness that security cameras and recording devices are used at check-out, in aisles and stockroom areas to reduce theft and to remind staff of actions that could follow detection.

Patrons could be reminded to be cautious with their purses or other valuables to prevent theft by other patrons. Or customers could be encouraged to report suspicious behavior or reminded that shoplifting increases the cost of goods. Digital signage displays in store areas of high shrinkage could remind patrons of what loss prevention staff are looking for, such as merchandise being hidden or not presented at checkout, prices being changed, packaging being damaged, etc.

Lyle Bunn is principal and strategy architect with Bunn Co. and is a regular contributor to Digital Signage Today.

Posted by: Lyle Bunn AT 01:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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