Blog: Ron Bowers 

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

Monday, 16 June 2014

An interesting thing is happening in stores. Retailers who were fast out of the box to test tablets on the floor have assimilated their learning and are proceeding to integrate them into the in-store experience.

Admittedly these retailers who are refreshing their stores with tablets may have fast customers nudging them along the path of incorporating more technology.

Consumers can walk down the corridor of a shopping center and see tablet programs presented in vastly different ways. Some retailers are simply using hand-held tablets without any consumer-facing configuration. Kiosks and counter units offer the flexibility of both self-service and assisted selling experiences. Their functionality can include:

  •     Extended inventory
  •     Complete looks
  •     Videos and product demonstrations
  •     Product comparison
  •     Loyalty interfaces
  •     Payment card readers

For most shoppers, the process of using a touch screen kiosk for exploration or purchase has become intuitive. In-store merchandising companies have created a variety of metal or injection molded floorstands that accommodate different brands of tablets and turn them into self-service solutions.   

Sephora uses tablet kiosks in partnership with nail salon XpresSpa to showcase services that can be offered in-store and provide access to tutorials for do-it-yourself customers to try at home.

Counter Units
Counter units allow for collaboration in settings like jewelry or cosmetic departments. They can offer many of the same functions that self-service kiosks provide.

Clinique is placing iPad counter units in a reported 1,300 department stores. Customers can use the brand’s skin diagnostic application to assess their personal requirements among 180,000 product combinations. Location at the cosmetics counter allows for collaboration with sales associates.

Wall-Mounted Displays
The compact nature of tablets makes them ideal for constricted areas or portable hand-held uses, but they can also be a hardware component of a large, impactful display wall that incorporates branded graphics or even digital signage.

The Lowe’s Canada light bulb education center integrated a tablet into a larger category display so customers could access an application explaining the many options in the category. The display included static signage, digital signage, and a recycling center.

Assisted Selling
Retailers who are using tablets for checkout appreciate their multi-functionality.  They can accommodate inventory checking, ordering, product information and sales associate training.

Belk stores are working to better integrate customer data with online and in-store sales. A new storewide POS system will include wireless tablets for sales staff that give access to customers’ purchase history.

If you’re a retailer, you should be thinking about how tablets or some other type of small-foot print interactive element can improve the path or decrease some of the friction points involved in purchase for the connected consumer. If you’re a brand, you should be thinking about how you can partner with a retailer to build an interactive experience that elevates your product in the mind of shoppers. We have a lot to say on this topic in our upcoming whitepaper Using Tablets to Transform Retail Experience.

This post originally appeared on Frank Mayer's blog.

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