Blog: Ron Bowers 

Ron Bowers (bio)
SVP, Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates

Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Despite superstorm Sandy’s best efforts to make it a wash-out, attendees of Customer Engagement Technology World carried on with a show-must-go-on attitude appropriate for New York on November 7th and 8th. CETW is a bi-annual industry event focused on leveraging the integration of emerging media technology across multiple channels to activate customer engagement.

I was privileged to be asked by the Digital Screenmedia Association to chair a discussion titled "Social Media, Kiosks and Mobile: Omni-channel Convergence to Maximize Customer Engagement." Our panel consisted of Greg Clore, Vice President of Information Technology at restaurant and entertainment company Dave and Buster’s, Inc.; Cory Keen, Retail Programs, Kiosk & Mobility Technology Manager, at retailer Cabela’s Inc.; and Ray Rotolo, Chief Operating Officer at out-of-home advertising company Posterscope.

The overriding theme of our discussion was that businesses skillfully embracing mobile, kiosks, and social media are the ones focused not on stand-alone engagement but cohesive customer experience. To the extent that we can deliver as a point of purchase industry not only to brand and retailer objectives but to the positive experience of the consumer we can be partners in building loyalty.

The omni-channel strategy tracks customers across all channels. All shopping channels work from the same retailer database of products, pricing, promotions, and engagements. As Wikipedia says best, “Instead of perceiving a variety of touch-points as part of the same brand, omni-channel retailers let consumers experience the brand, not a channel within a brand. Merchandise and promotions are not channel specific, but rather consistent across all retail channels.”

Greg Clore’s presentation illustrated how Dave and Buster’s uses guest-facing technologies that not only communicate their product and services but deliver on the excitement of the Dave and Buster’s brand. Their multiple channels include a website, kiosks, digital signage, self-service POS, an online digital guide, and numerous ways to engage via mobile and social media.

The central theme that Greg has integrated into Dave & Buster’s guest experience is the use of technology-enhanced engagement - not just multi-channel touch points.  D&B has focused on the omni-channel engagement of the guest’s personal experience integrated through D&B’s Loyalty Program, Power Cards, and Experience Redemptions in the restaurant and entertainment venue. The experience is enabled by the customer when they want it, where they want it, and the way they want it! Launching this week will be the New Mobile Wallet: Register Powercards, Register Credit Cards, D&B Location Services, and Guest-selected Promotions.

Cory Keen addressed Cabela’s strategy of becoming “channel-less.” Cabela’s brand experience has one face - because customers expect one look and feel - but access across multiple channels. The retailer has empowered customers to do channel-less shopping with mobile apps that include bar code scanning and enable pricing transparency, online ordering through in-store kiosks and an order online/pick-up in store service.

Cabela’s is a leader in instituting corporate commitment to the omni-channel message of consistency across all channels and finding ways to remove the “silos mentality” through inter- department communication and collaboration! This orientation begins at the core engagement point; the in-store outfitters are empowered to match prices and create an omni-channel consistency to meet the demands of the Cabela’s customer. Their strategy encompasses empowered outfitters, price transparency between channels, and corporate training for omni-channel development.

Keen acknowledged that customer expectations are “growing extremely fast.” It is essential to keep taking a pulse through their Voice of the Customer survey. Cabela’s has implemented mobility feedback and studies for multiple mobile platforms that will allow their loyal customers a readily available forum.

Ray Rotolo of Posterscope noted that people are connected to their devices, but they are also members of “dynamic connected cultures” through their social interactions. Thus, the drivers of the out-of-home business are both supply side innovation through mobile and digital technologies and demand side adoption by consumers.

This industry dynamic is creating new demands and opportunities for brands and media owners in four key dimensions:
  • Content - Understanding what people want and how they want it.
  • Space - Understanding how best to create experiences that capitalize on the increasing “location neutral fluidity” of people’s lives.
  • Community – Understanding how to leverage social media to help people connect and share.
  • Commerce – Understanding how to move consumers closer to purchase especially using search.
Consumers are forming relationships with those retailers who not only understand the technology but are using it to meet their rapidly evolving consumer expectations in a consistent and satisfying way.  There is room for a finite number of close relationships with brands and retailers in our fluid lives and those who embrace convergence have a better chance of being on the winning end. Kudos to CETW and DSA for facilitating this movement!
Posted by: Ron Bowers AT 04:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Given the increased importance of mobile as a shopping tool, and as our “concierge” for other essential tasks, it is natural to ask what this trend means for the future of traditional kiosks. Some have posed the question in headline-grabbing fashion.
It is a very human tendency to evaluate new technologies in a win/lose, either/or fashion given the pace of change. When the Digital Screenmedia Association issued its report Self-Service Future Trends 2011 almost a year ago, some industry watchers speculated on the demise of the kiosk with the ascendancy of mobile capabilities. At the time, I pegged the use of kiosks and mobile in combination as an adroit maneuver that could pay off for deployers and provide a better experience for consumers. Over the last year, I’ve seen plenty of evidence to back that up.
In the same way industries are aiming toward having all channels working together seamlessly, all forms of media need to work together to support marketing objectives. Kiosks can still stand alone, but mobile can point the consumer toward a kiosk, enhance the kiosk experience, and add portability to the concept.
Using Mobile to Point to the Kiosk
Mobile tactics can be used to attract users to a kiosk. In-store rewards program Shopkick allows shoppers to accumulate points via an application running on their phones. Shoppers can get points just for visiting different sites within a store and scanning items. With mobile check-in applications like Shopkick, a bar code can be used to increase awareness and trial of a kiosk.
Though in its infancy, the technology exists in various forms to send location-based messages to draw shoppers to a specific point in the store. That location doesn’t have to be a product; it can be an interactive solution.
Enhancing the Kiosk Experience
The proliferation of mobile usage makes the channel impossible to ignore. The development of customer-facing kiosk applications should increasingly call for consideration of a mobile strategy. Two industries where we see mobile and kiosks complementing each other are grocery and hospitality. Some grocery chains, for example, are integrating loyalty information and coupons that can be accessed on kiosks or mobile phones by allowing customers to use their mobile phone number as their loyalty number. The hospitality industry is exploring the use of kiosks for check-in and allowing guests to begin a process on their phones that culminates at the kiosk.
Making the Kiosk Portable
The consumer’s view of what constitutes self-service has expanded and is driving the solutions that get developed. It now seems intuitive that a wayfinding kiosk emails directions to a user’s smartphone. A health information kiosk enables users to access saved information on their personal account via smartphone. 
Frankly, we need to acknowledge that the definition of kiosk has expanded with the popularity of tablets for retail use. They can be incorporated into countertop units, affixed to walls and shelves, and mounted on tablet PC display stands that add portability. 
Customer-facing technology, whether available on a kiosk or a mobile device ultimately serves the same purpose – to provide information and drive decision-making. We’re much more likely to operate in a world where devices converge than in a single-device ecosystem. The real question is not whether one channel displaces another but how they can come together to meet the expectations of consumers.
Posted by: Ron Bowers AT 10:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  
Add to favorites

Our members are among the most prominent and respected suppliers of digital signage, kiosk, self-service and mobile technology solutions.

Request project help from DSA members

Kari Blankenship, Cabela's
"Being a member of the DSA allows us to stay at the forefront of the retail self-service industry offerings. We are able to work alongside other deployers and share ideas and experiences."

Kari Blankenship
Retail Programs Manager
Cabela's Inc.

Tweets by @iDigScreenmedia

Digital Screenmedia Association | 13100 Eastpoint Park Blvd. Louisville, KY 40223 | Phone: 502-489-3915 | Fax: 502-241-2795



Website managed by Networld Media Group