|| The Perspective
Wednesday, 01 April 2015
By David McCracken - Livewire Digital
Turn on any high school or college sports movie and you’ll see a natural rivalry between the jocks and the tech nerds(…who I refer to fondly, being one of them!). Something in their DNA just can’t make these two groups get along. But in the case of sports Halls of Fame, life doesn’t seem to imitate art — jocks and tech geeks get along perfectly.
The hottest trends in sports Halls of Fame are digital signs, kiosks, and interactive software to organize and display the overwhelming amount of sports information available.
Baseball Hall of Fame
From the exhibits to the devices employees use to run operations, the Baseball Hall of Fame is taking tech to a new level. The Cooperstown landmark uses digital signs and interactive kiosks to give visitors a customized experience, no matter what they’re interested in.
The Baseball Hall of Fame has also started digitizing three-dimensional objects like documents and historic items to give visitors a hands-on experience, even if the physical item itself isn’t in the museum.
College Football Hall of Fame
Hot on the heels of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s tech success is the hall of fame for America’s #2 pastime: college football. You won’t see any plaques or busts in the College Football Hall of Fame — you’ll see movable touch screens instead. This Atlanta hot spot also incorporates RFID technology. Each visitor who enters selects their favorite team, and interactive video walls and other elements throughout the Hall are customized to reflect their preferences.
University of Massachusetts
At the UMass Football Hall of Fame, visitors use an interactive exhibit to explore the university’s 130-year-old football program. Kiosks and digital signs show visitors detailed historical information, current data and statistics, and engaging information on players, coaches, bands, mascots, and more. The digital directories allow every visitor using the kiosk to easily find something of personal interest through use of the touch screen software.
The Stevenson University Mustangs were inspired by the All-Sports Museum at my alma mater, Penn State University, and wanted to use the same interactive kiosks as well as video wall technology to celebrate their own program. Visitors of the Stevenson Hall of Fame use the touch screen kiosk and ultra-high definition video walls to learn all about the students and staff of the Athletics Program. Livewire’s eConcierge Content Management System makes it easy for school personnel to update and change the information on a dime — and since sports are always changing and evolving, this ensures the most up-to-date information available.
Ultimately, this technology provides so much more than could ever be inscribed on a plaque in traditional Halls of Fame. Why share a small amount of information with plaques, busts, and photos, when you can share a limitless amount with kiosks, video walls, digital directories, and a content management system?
Wednesday, 04 March 2015
A year later, retailers are reporting positive results from iBeacon campaigns. There are, however, still challenges from the caveats associated with iBeacons.
Specifically, customers must be iPhone users. They must download the retailers’ app. They must enable Wifi on their phone and opt-in to receive notifications. Many consumers are not willing to opt-in because they have privacy concerns about retailers collecting their data. Physical Cookie gives retailers and their customers the benefits of iBeacons without having to meet all of these requirements.
What is Physical Cookie?
Physical Cookie is a RFID-tag within a piece of plastic, usually on a key-fob, which retailers can give to their customers as they shop. The customer puts Physical Cookie in their pocket and then has to take no additional steps. Electric readers are then placed around the retail store. The Physical Cookie key-fob collects data in real-time in the same way cookies on websites do (hence the name). Digital screens within the store, show customers advertisements based on their behavior. Customers do not sign up or register, so there are no privacy concerns involved. Physical Cookie has operated in the Citycenter shopping mall in Helsinki, as part of a trial since Fall 2014.
Physical Cookie is easier for the consumer to use than iBeacons. Unlike the Bluetooth technology used for iBeacons, Physical Cookie is always on. Instead of pinging a user’s phone, the actual retail environment reacts to the consumers behavior, which feels much less spammy.
The Physical Cookie Customer Loyalty Program
In the Citycenter trial, a customer loyalty program called VIP-key was launched. The VIP-keys were given to 14,000 randomly selected customers who were then automatically part of a loyalty program, without ever having to opt-in, register, or sign up for anything. The trial was in a shopping center but Physical Cookie has said this can work for both retail chains and for brands working within big-box retailers.
While this trial was conducted using Physical Cookies in a key-fob format, the company said in the future this does not necessarily have to be the case. The key-fob format was selected with the thought process that customers enter the shopping center with their wallet, mobile phone, and keys with them. The average customers wallet is already full of loyalty cards, and mobile phones would require opt-in. The key chain was chosen instead because it does not already have any smart device on it.
- The VIP-key cost the equivalent of about two cents in US Dollars.
- 15% of the VIP-keys were active.
- They showed a 14.5% increase in activity between floors.
- There a was a 21.7% increase in time spent in the shopping center.
For more information on enhancing your customers’ retail experience, please visit our About page.
Photo Credit: Physical Cookie
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.
Friday, 13 February 2015
Vice President New Business Development - Displays/Merchandisers
Frank Mayer and Associates
With more than 20 years of experience at trade shows, I have attended more than 100 shows. While each show is different, I seem to always take a similar approach to each one.
I’d like to share my 7-part game plan for playing the trade show field with you. Hopefully, this rulebook helps you accomplish your goals in an efficient manner.
1. Know the Playbook: Almost all trade shows have a Pre-Show Planner on their web site. These planners can assist your company in tailoring your game plan for the show.
The amount of companies exhibiting at a show is overwhelming. You want to know which of your targets will be there before the show kicks off so that you avoid leaving a prospect without coverage. At the same time, you don’t want to rush the passers so make sure to work with your teammates. If you and multiple colleagues are going to the same show, be sure to know who will be tackling which exhibitor or event. You don’t want to double up – wasting your time and making your company seem unprepared/non-communicative.
You may be able to set up certain plays before the show by finding information on prospects via LinkedIn, the company’s website or even the trade show’s publication. Finding this information can enable you to leverage the meeting systems within the trade show organization. Consider establishing a quick meeting ahead of time to page through visual examples and capabilities.
2. Get your Jersey Ready: You want to present yourself so that your prospect welcomes you to their booth, is happy to have you on their sideline and introduces you to their teammates.
Dress professionally. If you belong to a world class company, present yourself as a world class individual. This includes comfortable shoes. You’ll need proper support to endure the entire game. My pedometer shows between 7 -10 miles/day at a show.
Practice good hygiene. You are talking to people and shaking hands throughout the day; so never leave the locker room unprepared – carry some mints and wash up after meals.
3. Train for the Big Game: Get the sleep and exercise you will need to keep you at your best. Trade shows are long days – you will want to be in top physical and mental condition.
Practice what you plan to say to each company. You want to be concise and direct; have a list of questions prepared that are focused on that company’s product offerings and be able to convey what it is you’re searching for. Be able to explain your company’s value proposition within 60 seconds. You will want to focus on the prospect but be able to convey your company’s value so that they remember you and what you are about!
Make sure to take care of yourself. Eat right and get plenty of sleep. Avoid staying out late watching the big game on Monday Night Football.
4. Stay on Your Toes: Be ready for anything from Warm-Up to Cool-Down
Always be prepared to show your value. Talk to everyone on the plane, on the shuttles, at the bar, at the restaurant, in the elevator. Trade shows typically have 1,000’s of people attending them. You never know when the big score is right around the corner.
Be creative. The last thing brands and retailers want to deal with is the “pesky” sales representative who is there to get business from them. You’ll need to present your company in an interesting way. Bring something of value that is relevant and captures the extensive knowledge base in their specified vertical market.
GlobalShop trade show5. Scope the Field: Know the show floor and detail your route so that you use your time most effectively and ensure you don’t miss a prospective company.
If you walk into a trade show without a path of execution, you will wear out long before the second half. Print a floor plan and highlight the people you want to see – making a route for the day.
Walk the floor several times. Try to come in and address their sales growth needs through the use of your company’s goods and services.
6. Watch the Play Clock: manage your time wisely, and remember – it is a marathon and not a sprint.
Manage your time from one company to another. Exhibitors are there to sell and they will keep detailing their products and benefits for hours if you let them. If they do not meet your requirements or help to advance your goals, swap business cards and move along.
Budget time to allow for follow-ups and re-visits you may need to get that contact or business card. Show respect for their needs and they will show respect for yours in return.
7. Review the Tape: Review and follow up with every contact you make.
When you sort through the business cards remind yourself of every detail that is important to fostering a lasting relationship with them. Each night at the show, write a review of the prospect’s needs and follow-up specifics.
Follow up with the individual. Don’t leave it up to the companies you met with to reach out to you.
Overall, remember – the prospect doesn’t owe you the time they are taking away from their important business at the show. Greet them with a smile, and leave them having a smile for meeting with you!
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Is it just me, or is virtual reality (VR) popping up everywhere? Whether you’re chowing down on pizza or waiting at a bus terminal, interactive VR technology is growing every day. Now, we’re seeing the first smart retail store using this technology.
You might think the Rebecca Minkoff flagship retail store would want the incredible technology it created with partner eBay to be the focal point of the retail space. But it’s precisely the opposite — they made it as subtle as possible.
Reflecting the Future
High-tech touch screen mirrors bring the online world into the physical retail space. At first glance, they look like regular mirrors, until shoppers tap to transform them into touch screen, virtual reality havens.
Shoppers select the pieces and sizes they want to try on and a sales associate will bring the items directly to a changing room. Shoppers receive a text message when their room is ready — hello, omni-channel networks!
One Step Further
The smart changing room takes it even further to enhance the interactive shopping experience. RFID technology allows the self-service software to recognize each item within the room. With one tap on the touch screen mirrors, shoppers can request different sizes, place items into virtual shopping carts, and purchase.
The software also attaches each item tried on and purchased to a shopper’s account. This allows it to make intelligent retail recommendations based on the customer’s taste in the future, further customizing the experience.
The smart store understands that VR can’t replace the need to physically experience something. We’re seeing this with larger items too, like Audi’s virtual reality car showroom. For as amazing as this interactive technology is, Audi also incorporates samples of interior and exterior finishes for customers to touch.
Having physical samples is important for both large-item retailers and stores with mass customization options. A shoe store, for example, could have one sample pair of shoes with virtual images and physical swatches of all the different materials the style comes in.
Previously, we’ve always looked at an online store as an extension of the physical store, but the smart store flips this idea on its head. eBay views the physical items in the smart store as a manifestation of the online experience. Pretty crazy, right?
What do you think — would you want this technology in your retail experience? Or is this too much, too soon?
Wednesday, 04 February 2015
By Reflect Systems
The world of retailing just keeps getting more exciting as the landscape continues to radically shift and morph with new business models and approaches in the age of the Connected Customer. Traditional retailers have been honing their digital chops with omnichannel strategies. But we’re also seeing other brands that are not traditional retailers now expanding with efforts to get closer to the consumer with a “physical” retail presence.
A new form of retailers are emerging and exploring the benefits of physical stores and showrooms. While many brands have leveraged pop-ups and store-in-store implementations, dedicated stand-alone locations are increasingly part of the strategy for many brands. Examples include Nike, Levis, Polo Ralph-Lauren and many others.
Some brands have had long-standing programs using their own branded store locations. Some of these brands rely on the bulk of their sales through wholesale channels and now, increasingly, through online purchases. But they have also leveraged their own physical stores for branding and customer insights.
Newcomers continue to move into the physical store landscape. Samsung, seeking to increase brand awareness and better customer education, made a big effort with a store-in-store partnership with Best Buy and will soon be seeking to test their own dedicated stores to further solidify their brand presence and compete with the likes of Apple.
Now, even more interestingly, e-tailers are getting aggressive with new forays into dedicated shops and “showrooms". While some of these efforts are still experimental, toe-in-the-water programs, many examples are proving to be quite successful to brands seeking to move beyond the confines of the digital world to establish valuable face-to-face connections with customers. Some of these brands may keep their physical footprints relatively small to grow awareness in strategic markets and leverage customer insights to further strengthen their online business. Others may prove to be more expansive and farther reaching.
There are many cases of brands moving into the physical store game, including Bonobos, Warby Parker, Birchbox, J. Hilburn, Trunk Club, Alton, Justfab, SwimSpot, Nasty Gal, BaubleBar, and others.
Many of the newcomer brands like to the physical retailing world are starting the move to the physical world by experimenting with pop-ups and store-in-store formats before taking the plunge into dedicated stores.
Birchbox, Athleta, and Amazon
Birchbox, a New York-based apparel e-tailer, has been one of the oft-cited examples of this transitional, phased approach to entering physical stores. They partnered to make selections of merchandise available in Nordstrom and Belk stores. Birchbox expanded their own presence with dedicated “Guideshops” in multiple major markets.
Athleta, previously a web retailer for women’s sportswear, was acquired by Gap, Inc. and is making the move into dedicated brand stores. While other e-tailers will face learning curves on the science of merchandising in the real world, Athleta will likely benefit from the operations and traditional retailing expertise of Gap.
And then there’s the proverbial elephant in the room… Amazon. It’s unclear what their overarching long-term strategy is for physical retail presence, but they are likely to make waves.
Insights and Lessons Learned from Brands Moving to Dedicated Physical Stores
- Boosting brand awareness and creating a connection with new customers is a big driver for many businesses. However, there are lessons being learned related to timing and brand awareness. While going physical may be a good move for some online-only businesses, it helps to have recognized brand and buzz before opening physical stores.
- Personalized services like beauty consultations and other one-on-one appointments are playing a big part in this new world of connected retailing. Stylists in Trunk Club locations consult with customers and fill a “digital trunk” with selected products to be shipped to the customer. This approach is proving to be effective at helping men who may not like the hassle of shopping, but need help and consultation to quickly find the right fit, brands and accessories that are right for them.
- E-tailers and consumer product brands are recognizing the customers’ desire to touch and feel products in the real world. Many products are challenging to effectively sell online. Apparel, glasses, and makeup and beauty products in particular can benefit from physical shopping. This can be a challenge for e-tailers as they move from online to physical. They must learn or acquire the knowledge to merchandise products using best practices ingrained in traditional retail models.
- The art/science of product curation has a big impact in showrooms for engaging the customer and educating them on offerings. Brands are experimenting with the breadth and depth of the products to show in the store, and they are finding the best ways to merchandise in person. Birchbox, for example, has showcased products by category, rather than by brand.
- In-store events like celebrity appearances, classes, and other events like make-up and beauty parties provide brands with more opportunities to leverage the in-person benefits of a physical location. Using the storefront or showroom to leverage the “art of the happening” may prove to further enhance the brand to consumer connection.
- Digital is still playing a part in the physical store. Even as traditional retailers are embracing in-store digital technologies, e-tailers and brand stores have an even stronger reliance on having a seamless connection with the web. Birchbox uses video content and product reviews with their interactive in-store displays. Alton Lane, another men’s apparel retailer, uses a 3D body scanner to take measurements, providing an in-person edge over the challenge of finding the right fit online.
- Some of these new in-store purchases have shown higher average transaction sizes versus online. They are also seeing customers acquire a higher comfort level with brands in-store, then transitioning with ease to making follow-up purchases online.
- One of the big findings of e-tailers has been that there are still many people who just like the act of browsing products in person. While traditional retailers are getting better at their web presence, e-tailers are learning how to best bring their website into the physical world.
- Shopping, for many, is still an activity and event providing an outlet for moving around and exploring. As Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal has acknowledged, shopping is a form of entertainment.
While the online and physical worlds collide and alter the retail landscape, the recognition of the value of physical presence is gaining more visibility. Online is big, but brands are also getting physical.
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
Fitting rooms can be one of the most dreaded parts of a shopping trip for the customer. For the retailer it is one of the most important. So how can brands enhance the experience for shoppers? One solution we see popping up is digital mirrors.
According to “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill, shoppers are twice as likely to buy if they use a dressing room. Dressing room enhancements should be a top priority for retail stores as they make enhancements coming out of the recession. Digital mirrors are just one of the ways retailers can do this. Digital mirrors create an interactive experience for customers. Luxury brands are already testing digital mirrors in their stores.
The MemoMi Memory Mirror is a digital mirror currently being tested in Neiman Marcus department stores. MemoMi allows customers to instantly change the color or the pattern of the outfit they have tried on. They can also try on additional items to complete their outfit virtually using the mirror. The mirror takes 360-degree video, allowing customers to see themselves from every angle. Customers who are shopping alone but would like a second opinion from a friend are able to share a full body still via email or social media. The mirror is controlled by the user either through gestures or through a mobile app.
Neiman Marcus employees have access to the sales associate interface which lets them send recommendations directly to customers from the mirror. Neiman Marcus is the first retailer to use this product, but MemoMi is working with other large retail brands.
Last month Nordstrom added connected mirrors to their Seattle and San Jose locations. The mirrors are located in the fitting rooms and appear to be regular mirrors. However, customers can use the bar code scanner to can the tags of the clothing they bring into the dressing room. The mirror then displays item reviews, and shows what other colors and sizes of the item are in stock. It also shows additional related product recommendations, such as complimentary accessories or shoes.
The customer can use the mirror to request the suggested items be delivered to the dressing room by an associate. The sales associates are alerted via tablets. They can respond to the customers to let them know they are on their way. This message appears right on the mirror.
Rebecca Minkoff’s Magic Mirrors in her interactive store, are worth a mention. The touch screens allow customers to change their lighting settings, select different colors or sizes, and to add the items into their online shopping basket.
The digital mirrors in these stores aren’t just a cool technology add-on. They all serve a purpose or solve a retail problem. In Neiman Marcus, the sharing feature helps customers who need advice from a friend before they are comfortable making a purchase. In Nordstrom they are used as a communications tool so that sales associates don’t have to stick by the dressing room, but remain accessible to the customer. In Rebecca Minkoff, the lighting settings helps customers who need to know how the outfit will look in real life. The digital mirror in each store offers it’s own unique experience tailored to the brand.
Tuesday, 06 January 2015
Ron Bowers (bio)
SVP, Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates
Millennials controlling 70% of the spending power in the U.S. creates vast uncertainty amongst retailers; but with the strongest economy in years, optimism prevails as we begin 2015.
For many retailers, the Millennial consumer is an enigma: they are more suspicious of who to trust and yet, more likely to be influenced by apps and social media than any other generation. Only 19% of Millennials (versus 40% of Baby Boomers) say that, “generally speaking, most people can be trusted” (PewResearch). However, in order to make buying decisions, consumers look to a retailer’s online presence and social influence before considering a purchase.
This generation’s spending habits are moved by its self-paradox. Millennials are self-focused and at the center of their own global communications. It is vital for them to have a positive self-image while finding a sense of belonging when purchasing consumer goods. They desire self-preservation and a personal connection to a product or service.
So, what does this mean for retailers?
The heightened competition amongst store fronts and e-commerce will increase. Currently, roughly ¾ of consumers claim to showroom (Retail Future Trends 2015) or rather compare brands in order to receive the lowest price, best quality and/or widest selection of merchandise when shopping—many times without ever stepping foot in a store. This creates less in-store traffic and increased wavering among dominant brands. So, retailers must draw their target markets in through a strong online presence while providing feelings of exclusivity and individuality for a reasonable price.
To draw consumers into their store fronts, many retailers have begun incorporating various electronic capabilities; this includes the use of tablets, interactive kiosks and beacon technology. Tablets and interactive kiosks extend inventory past what can be offered in stores. The use of tablets has expanded into the retail environment to replace paper signage with digital advertising while providing sales associates quick and easy access to inventory, online ordering, product information and faster checkouts. Interactive Kiosks act in a similar way – allowing for added promotions through electronic ads specified to a department and the time of day. They also enable retailers to connect with consumers by blending in-store merchandising and virtual product displays. Beacon technology, on the other hand, provides the retailer with direct communication to the consumer and has the potential to completely change the in-store shopping experience by creating personalized and targeted marketing in real time. A beacon uses a Bluetooth signal to send special offers to nearby smartphones equipped with the store’s app. App users will receive targeted messages and deals while moving throughout the store.
Let’s say you’re shopping at a retailer equipped with these devices and have previously downloaded the store’s app. As you walk through the doors, your phone buzzes with an exclusive storewide discount. You wander into the home goods department and begin looking for a new blender when your phone alerts you of a sale on KitchenAid products. You can’t pass up the sale price and find the specified blender but are not happy with the color selections available in store. Scanning the product’s barcode at a nearby kiosk, you find additional product specifications, customer reviews and available colors. The color you’d like is available only online. No need to worry. Once your shopping is complete, you bring all of your selections to the nearby associate. They ring you up on their iPad and include the desired blender and ship it directly to your home.
As many stores have already begun implementing this technology, this experience won’t be a thing of the future for long. In fact, Macy’s has added 4,000 iBeacon devices nation-wide and provides coupons via this technology to customers who have downloaded ShopKick. They have also begun testing smart dressing rooms and an image search app. The smart dressing rooms have a wall-mounted tablet that allows customers to view various sizes and colors of a product while the image search app allows customers to snap a photo of an outfit or clothing item to find similar items on sale.
With these exciting advancements in technology, 2015 will be a year to watch how the in-store experience changes to accommodate the self-regarding Millennial. While it is clear that tech-enhanced stores offer an enriched shopper experience with benefits like improved productivity, inventory counts and use of store square footage, we have yet to determine exactly how to incorporate this technology so that it is most useful to each individual without overwhelming them.
Monday, 17 November 2014
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
Once again this holiday season has only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, last year had 25 days. Shoppers and retailers are preparing for the biggest shopping season of the year. This less than 4 week window has retailers scrambling to grab and retain the consumer’s attention (and pocketbook). They are doing this in a variety of ways.
Macy’s was the first retailer to announce that they would again be open on Thanksgiving Day. The doors at Macy’s will open at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than last year’s opening time. The department store chain stated this move was “in response to the significant, sustained customer interest in last year’s opening day on Thanksgiving, both at Macy’s and other retailers.” The Walnut Room, the famous restaurant on the 7th floor of Macy’s State Street store in Chicago, will be open for the first time serving Thanksgiving dinner, also at 6 PM. Maybe this is a start of a new tradition, Thanksgiving dinner followed by shopping? Target, Kohl’s, Sears, and J.C. Penney, along with other retailers have since posted they will also be open on Thanksgiving.
Some consumers state that greed has taken over this holiday; however, others have pointed out that the crowds these stores are receiving justify them being open. Jerry O'Brien, director of the Kohl's Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence, stated that for some people shopping on Thanksgiving Day is no different than others playing football or going to a movie. Conversely, some retailers have opted to remain closed and allow their employees to celebrate the holiday with their families. Costco, Barnes and Noble, and Nordstrom’s are among those retailers remaining closed on the holiday.
Despite the gain in popularity of shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday still remains the king. According to the National Retail Federation, 2013 store traffic on Black Friday was 92 million people compared to 45 million shoppers on Thanksgiving Day. The high presence of loyalty programs, and the data collected when enrolled in these programs, allow for retailers to pinpoint certain Black Friday offers to a shopper. With offers made via direct mail, social media and email marketing, these campaigns allow the consumer to be well prepared when they arrive at the store.
Toy retailer Toys ‘R Us recently announced a revamped loyalty program for the 2014 holiday season. They have good reason to focus on their 18 million loyalty cardholders, they account for 70% of their US sales. Recently announced, in-store and online layaway programs are now available. As an added incentive to shop even earlier, Toys ‘R Us has offered cardholders 10% off their entire purchase every Saturday during the month of November. This is in addition to loyalty members earning $5 in “R” Us Rewards for every $125 spent. When the “R” Us credit card is used for these purchases, the earnings double to $10. For holiday shoppers with children on their lists these rewards will add up quickly.
Macy’s and Toys ‘R Us have also upgraded their omni-channel features prior to the upcoming holidays. Both retailers now offer Apple Pay. In select markets, Macy’s has implemented Smart Fitting Rooms, fitting rooms with wall-mounted tablets which allow associates and customers to scan merchandise items and see other sizes or colors available. Also, in select markets, Macy’s is offering same day delivery. Consumers can purchase merchandise on the company’s website to be delivered to the store the same day. Toys ‘R Us is offering a similar service. Toys and games ordered online can be picked up in store in less than an hour.open sign
Whether you are working off your second piece of pumpkin pie by racing to the stores Thanksgiving evening, or waking up at the crack of dawn the following morning, rest assured that the stores are ready for you and a few thousand of your friends.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
By David McCracken
I don’t know about you, but it seems every time I’ve been in a Starbucks over the last few weeks, it seems like everyone is scanning their smartphone instead of paying with cash. The retail world is moving so quickly towards convenient technology solutions like these, and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Craig W. Smith, founder of the New Channels Department at London retail giant Marks & Spencer, gave his predictions for the five pretty incredible in-store retail technology trends we will see in the next year. (Original source: http://retail-innovation.com/)
1. First payment by smart watch
Smart watch payment…because reaching into your pocket or purse is too much effort (not!) Smith predicts we will move beyond paying with cash, credit cards, or even smartphones, to paying with your wrist wear. The smart watch will establish itself as a credible payment instrument.
2. First Google Glass in-store retail applications
Google Glass applications are popping up in the medical and hospitality industries, and retail will soon join them. Retailers will offer applications like customer recognition, personalized concierge services and pick, pack & dispatch.
3. Personalized targeting with beacon technology
Smith says retailers will start to engage customers with location-based personalized targeting. When customers enter a certain geographic range, retailers can send targeted promotions straight to their mobile phones.
4. Pay and go using your mobile
Have you been in a grocery store that allows you to scan your items as you put them into your cart? Picture the same thing…but with your smartphone. In the next 12 months, retail stores will trial software that allows customers to scan items as they shop and pay on their phones before exiting the store.
5. Payment on shop floor will move from trial to full-scale rollout
Some retailers are currently taking payments on devices like iPads, but mobile payment is definitely not without its challenges. Over the next 12 months, Smith predicts that hardware and solution providers will fix these problems, which will lead to more and more retailers adopting them. Mobile payments will move from proof-of-concept ideas into fully-fledged rollouts.
In which of these trends do you see the most potential? What other tech predictions do you have for the next 12 months?
Monday, 21 July 2014
Senior Vice President - Sales
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
Tablets have been touted as “reinventing” and “revolutionizing” retail. Retailers and consumer-facing businesses have been testing the use of tablets to gain operational and marketing advantages, and they like the results. Here are some ways retailers are getting big impact out of small screens.
In some cases brands have joined forces with key retailers to test tablet kiosks.
Target is reported to have tested iPads loaded with product content from Johnson and Johnson’s BabyCenter parenting website in baby departments of 10 Illinois stores. The test initiated in 2013 also included trained staff members with the aim of providing a more specialty store type of experience for new parents.
Tablets can also improve the process of trying on clothes either by providing convenient access to inventory for additional size, style and color options or virtual mannequin software that lets shoppers try a look digitally. They can also be tools for social feedback.
The flagship store of London retailer Karl Lagerfeld has installed iPads in dressing rooms to allow shoppers to take selfie photos with their clothing finds to send to friends.
Product Creation Stations
Tablet touchscreens provide a functionality that allows shoppers to try out design options and get creative. A number of athletic shoe brands like Puma and Nike have incorporated tablet customization into their retail strategies. To add impact to the experience a digital signage connection allows customers to show their creations to a wider in-store audience.
Tablets can replace paper signage. In fast changing categories this means up-to-the-minute product information. They give retailers the ability to cater to sophisticated shoppers who want detailed product specifications for high-end purchases like electronics, creative content for categories like fashion or pairings and source of origin for food.
Kate Spade has replaced paper signs with iPads placed strategically throughout the store to display product information and relevant content. Part of that content will be user-generated images designed to increase dwell time.
Using tablet at restaurantRetailers who are using tablets for checkout appreciate their multi-functionality. They can accommodate inventory checking, ordering, product information and sales associate training.
The IHL Group reports (Mobile POS: Hype to Reality, May 2013) that tablets have been most popular as POS devices with independent retailers and mall-based specialty chains. Falling into neither of those categories, Whole Foods Market plans to expand checkout locations in several of its stores by testing tablet checkout stands at fresh sandwich and coffee stations.
There’s so much more to launching a tablet program than just choosing a tablet and an enclosure. Our latest whitepaper Using Tablets to Transform Retail Experience can walk you through all of the considerations that go into planning a successful program.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Hi, my name is David, and I’m a Disney-holic.
My family and I have been going to Disney World almost every year since my kids were young. Now that my grown kids aren’t “kids” anymore, we experience the parks in different ways but still love it just as much. On our family Disney trip last month, we couldn’t stop talking about the newest technology advancement that was included in our experience.
Disney’s MagicBands are light, colorful bracelets that make the whole guest experience seamless and simple. They were developed as part of Disney’s billion-dollar MyMagic+ interactive technology system and take customer engagement to a new level.
Let me tell you, if anyone knows omni-channel engagement, it’s Disney.
Inside each MagicBand is a microchip that acts as your interactive key to the parks. Your bracelet grants admission when you wave it over a ticketing reader at the park gate. It saves your place in line for attractions — that’s Fast Pass to you Disney veterans — and your reservations at restaurants. It can let you into your Disney hotel room, keep track of your pictures taken by park photographers, and be used as a charge card to make purchases. It even activates the Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom, an interactive game played at the park.
As someone who can’t even count the number of times my kids lost a hotel room key or FastPass ticket, I see how valuable MagicBands are in easing the stresses and hassles of a family vacation!
The magic behind MagicBands is Radio Frequency, or RF, technology. This is the same tech used with keyless car entries, credit cards, and wireless video game controllers. MagicBands also connect with Disney’s existing interactive software (website, mobile apps, etc.), creating a true omni-channel network.
I couldn’t help but think of ways this technology could be used to bring the customer experience together in many different industries:
track preferred customer programs
offer special discounts
make restaurant reservations
monitor pre-purchase or early-bird access
store patient identities/histories
grant approval for services/privileges
track process through the system
grant access to rooms
book reservations at local attractions
track loyalty programs
interact with kiosk software to bring up previous search histories
The sky’s truly the limit with this technology. And would you expect anything less from Disney? What other uses can you see for RF technology like this?
Tuesday, 08 July 2014
Submitted by Ashley Ropar
For that matter, nobody's reading those occasional emails, either.
Or the quickly-scribbled reminders on the whiteboard in the lounge. Yet those haphazard attempts at corporate communication aren't uncommon. In a fast-paced work environment, companies find it difficult to maintain strong communication amongst employees. There's always something new to report and there's no way to get that information out instantaneously. At least without digital signage.
It seems pretty obvious, right?
A digital platform allows you to constantly distribute accurate, useful information to each and every member of your team. More exciting and advanced than traditional fliers and emails - let's not even touch on the whiteboard - digital signage demands attention, meaning your message will be received, not ignored.
On Average, an employee receives 304 business emails per week. Lost within that overstuffed inbox important internal emails simply cannot get the attention they need. Trying to sift through emails is exhausting and a waste of employee time: In Fact, 10 IQ points are lost while constantly fielding emails, which is the same effect as losing and entire night of sleep. That guy's going to have some trouble focusing today.
Constantly struggling to convey the latest meeting and event times, as well as their dates and locations?
Relay that information on you digital screens, alerting employees and allowing them to organize their schedules accordingly. No longer will employees be uninformed about where to be and when, juggling layers of information jumbled up within dozens of emails.
Digital signage also serves as a motivational tool for employees to stay on-task.
Display the latest sales numbers and approaching deadlines to remind everyone of their responsibilities as well as the company's overarching goals. Recognize employees who have gone above and beyond by reporting their achievements, announce upcoming events and milestones, and share media coverage.
Internal digital signage is targeted specifically for your employees.
Broadcast it in lounges or breakrooms, hallways, conference areas, cafeterias - any place that employees typically visit at least once a day. External signage, such as media displayed in office lobbies can act as a PR tool. Visitors can view content customized for public consumption, such as image-enhancing company news, employee and company achievements and messages from business executives.
Incorporating digital signage into your office space carries across-the-board benefits. Improve company-wide communication, increase employee morale and motivation and share relevant, engaging information with visitors to promote positive company PR.
Allow digital signage to revolutionize how your company communicates.
The results will speak for themselves.
3Northern Sky Resources, 2010 Global Market for Digital Signage 2nd Edition
Industry Weapon, Inc.© 2014 | [email protected] | 1-877-344-8450 | Industryweapon.com
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Provided by Reflect Systems
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, one of the largest amusement-resort operators in the world, is using digital engagement to thrill park goers and improve overall guest experiences. Operating 11 amusement parks, three outdoor water parks, one indoor water park, and five hotels, Cedar Fair continuously strives to provide guests with an unmatched experience. In fact, Cedar Fair’s Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio is consistently voted “Best Amusement Park in the World” in Amusement Today polls.
Cedar Fair amusement-resorts provide an ideal environment for experiential digital brand media. Spanning across all 11 amusement parks, the digital experience starts immediately when guests arrive. Entry gate digital signage is being utilized to help direct the flow of traffic, indicating which lanes are open or closed. To add a touch of personalization, entry gate screens also designate lanes reserved for attending companies and groups.
Digital media engagement continues throughout the parks with screens strategically placed in ride lines and restaurants to entertain guests while they wait. Multiple screens throughout the parks also provide guests with real-time weather information. A custom weather app tells guests when to expect the hottest or coldest hours of the day, or inclement weather, allowing them to plan their day accordingly.
Additional screens located in the parks provide Cedar Fair with the opportunity to educate their thrill seeking guests on other attractions and rides, announce upcoming promotions, and provide entertainment with music, games, and videos.
Cedar’s Fair’s constant pursuit to boost the overall guest experience has led to its world renowned success and solidifies their reputation of delivering world-class fun and entertainment.
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
By Bill Bishop
Stuart Armstrong was pushing the boundaries of using POS data at IRI to understand shopping behavior when I first met him. Today he’s pushing the boundaries of using digital screens to communicate with shoppers inside stores at ComQi.* In between, he developed multi-channel marketing strategies for the consumer goods and retail industries.
I think he has important things to say about where we’re going with the technology-enhanced shopping experience, which changes in the retail environment are most transformative, and how retailers and brands are using interactive screens to build customer relationships.
You’ve spent a long time at the intersection of retail and communications media. How would you describe where we are today?
A lot of the things we’re doing today with omni-channel, big data, technology, millions of dollars, and many hours are taking us back to the future – back to something retailers used to know how to do very well. It’s taking us back to the intimacy of customer service that retailers used to offer.
Back in the day, Sam the grocer might stand on the sidewalk beside his nice-looking produce. When Mrs. Smith walked by with little Patty, he knew what she’d bought, what she liked and disliked, and even that what flavor of penny candy her daughter preferred. It was a great customer relationship. It was personal. He knew her needs and he met her needs. And she talked with her friends about Sam the grocer, the original social media.
Then we moved to the other end of the spectrum with individual consumers. Broadcast media came on the scene, and we went through a bubble. Brands and advertisers developed a theory of reach and frequency, and they built a whole economic structure around mass media: Bombard enough people with messages and the small percentage of individuals that responds will be enough.
Today, we’re trying to get back to the level of intimacy we used to have with individual customers. We may be using technology to get there, but in the end, retail is a high-touch story, not a high-tech story. We’re using purchase histories and data analysis to re-establish relevance and recency. The more we can relate to consumers at a specific time with relevant information, the greater share of mind we gain and the greater the opportunity to influence purchases.
Which recent developments in retail strike you as most important?
There’s been a tsunami of change in the past 5 years. I think these three are important to recognize.
1. BYOD (bring your own device). Smartphones have spread far and wide in the last 5 years, and 40% of shoppers want to use their device while they are in the store – to compare prices, to scan QR codes, to look up alternatives. It’s changed the in-store experience, and now that people can shop anytime, anyplace, retailers and brands need to be present in the digital space as well.
2. The endless aisle concept. Retailers are trying to do more with less – offer more variety, greater selection, better experiences, but with less square footage. This means smaller on-site inventory and fewer back shelves. The endless aisle enables retailers to say “Sure, we can get that for you” and deliver fast.
3. The potential for technology and data to underpin greater levels of customer service. Frequent shopper programs have mostly delivered a sea of discounts. It degrades the brand and takes away the intimacy. There’s huge potential to use technology to improve customer service.
Powerful synergies arise from these developments. Check-in, for example, is a huge opportunity that touches on at least two of them. Say you go to the big electronics store to buy a smartphone and check in by swiping your device. And say check-in triggers the ability of the sales associate to call up your purchase history. The associate will understand your needs better, and you’re going to get much better service. Using technology and data to deliver customer service like this can bring retailers closer to the kind of relationship Sam the grocer had with his customers. Using it just to push promotions doesn’t create the same kind of intimacy or trust, and the more our customers trust us, the more information they will be willing to share.
What do these changes mean for product brands?
Brands are building stronger presence in stores using the “store within a store” concept. Fashion brands have done this for years in department stores, and CPG and cosmetics brands do it in grocery and drug stores mainly with displays, but brands are branching out into other venues now.
Remember that smartphone purchase? The last time I bought a smartphone, my sales associate walked me over to the manufacturer’s display and introduced me to Sally. “Sally will show you how to use your phone,” he said, and for the next 20 minutes Sally did exactly that. Sally works for the manufacturer, and she was servicing, not selling – but because she was servicing, she was selling. (Sometimes brands are delivering this kind of service via kiosk or screen.)
Brands used to print and send out mass mailings and figure that ½ to 1 percent of people would trip over them and buy. Now they’re starting to target stores where they have particular opportunities to grow sales and investing larger amounts of money in those locations.
You talk about the importance of screen-rich environments. What do you mean?
Screen-rich environments are playing a big part in the increasingly interactive store shopping experience.
- “Public screens” deliver one-to-many messages. You find these on the aisle, over the aisle, or even worked into the décor as part of the millwork; they don’t have to be a screen on a stick.
- “Private screens” deliver one-to-one messages and are the best vehicle for customer service. These are the mobile phone screens of individual shoppers, where they can download information and receive personalized offers, support or instruction.
Some screens can do double duty. My company recently helped roll out a digital price board in the automotive service sector that doubles as a “video on demand” screen. Remember Mrs. Smith? Imagine she comes in for an oil change and notices the price difference between synthetic and regular oil and asks about it. Her sales associate might or might not know the answer, but now he or she can use the same sign to show her a 90-second video that explains the difference. Now Mrs. Smith gets the answers she needs to make a decision from a credible source. This would be a powerful tool for many areas within grocery and drug store environments such as health/pharmacy, organics and even the wine department. By the way, it's important to note, that supporting sales in this manner has dramatic effects in increasing sales and trading up the purchase.
Finally, screens can now interact with each other – which means that Mrs. Smith can download the video explaining the difference between synthetic and regular oil to take home and discuss with her husband, and not just in English. If the household is Hispanic why not furnish the information in Spanish? Another example of delivering better customer service that results in increased sales and shopper loyalty.
Which retailers are doing the best job with screen interactivity?
Burberry’s High Street store in London is one of the best. They’ve created an entirely new shopping environment. They can even create a rainstorm to inspire shoppers to buy a raincoat.
There’s a similarly great use of digital screens in the Victoria Secret Harold Square store in New York that includes a 3-story video wall and screen synchronization following the shopper up and down the escalators. (In the interest of transparency, that’s our technology.)
What do you see on the horizon?
More wearables. Google Glass is a prototype, but heads-up display will evolve and wearables will become more common. And more augmented reality, where you can place your phone over a digital or static menu item and it will tell you about calories and nutritional value. Digital signage will serve up targeted content and mobile with will deliver a lot of the information people want without having to print it on a label or a menu or a shelf tag.
*ComQi is a global leader providing a cloud-based Shopper Engagement Technology that influences consumers at the point of decision, in-store, using all digital touch-points: digital signage, mobile, video, touch, web, and social networks. ComQi’s mission is to deliver an end-to-end solution that is tailored to engage consumers by optimizing communications and marketing strategies that provide the best ROI. Learn more about them at comqi.com, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, or visit their YouTube channel.
Friday, 30 May 2014
President & Founder
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.
Marketing’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
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.
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 ut.uniqlo.com. 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.
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
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
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.
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Is your business a trendsetter or behind the trend? Digital internal communications is not a fad, but a new reality. Companies today recognize that employees and consumers alike rely on digital communications for their information.
A recent article by Russell Working at ragan.com outlined seven key trends in internal digital content --
1. Everyone Can Create Content. In this digital age of mobile devices, virtually anyone can be an amateur photographer or videographer and share content.
2. Social Sharing = In; Email = Out. Companies are turning toward internal social networking platforms over email for company messages.
3. A Virtual Hub for Competitive Intelligence. Internal communications allows users to collect and share information, including keeping tabs on the competition.
4. Using Analytics for Social Content Dissemination. Large companies are using analytics and data visualization software to identity relevant and interesting social media content for their employees and customers.
5. Employee Education. Employees are being empowered through education so they can easily identify relevant information to share with their social network.
6. Digital Signage for More Than Live TV. Digital signage in reception and other common corporate areas have moved beyond live TV and now include company messages, stock updates and current weather.
7. Measuring Matters. Digital communications highlights the need for internal metrics and dashboards to measure company productivity and solicit feedback.
Recognizing these shifts in digital communication is key for companies to effectively communicate with employees and customers. To learn more about how your company can maximize these trends and be more effective with your internal communications, download the Visual Internal Communications market sheet from RMG Networks.
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
By Tanya Williams
Business Development Manager
As the biggest sales period of the year, every retailer needs to get smarter about how they maximize sales and about turning as many one-off Christmas customers into fans for life. The holiday period is not just about the short-term sales but also the long-term potential to turn these customers into raving fans.
Consumers have more choices than ever before and have an abundance of information at their fingertips. You as a retailer now have the resources to take advantage of this to stop delivering a fragmented "anywhere experience" and to create an "only-here experience" for your customers.
With the increase in online shopping, there is virtually unlimited scope for retailers to think outside the square by embracing digital signage to engage and give consumers a "real" in-store experience. Digital or intelligent signage uses technology to replace static posters as a means of targeting consumers in an engaging and responsive way:
- Use online sales to your advantage and create an in-store digital catalogue that takes elements of your website and makes them suitable for use in a store environment.
- Combine traditional and digital for greater results.
- Provide a personally relevant experience.
- Stand out from competitors.
- Maximize sales in-store and offer upsells.
- Attract new shoppers by having digital signage such as screens, video walls or touch projection in windows, at front of store, etc.
- Entertain your customers to extend dwell times.
- Promote new product lines.
- Know your audience and talk their language.
- Use dayparting to reflect the changing mood of the day.
- Send the love.
- Get social and interact.
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
By: Kisha Wilson
Marketing Manager at Slabb, Inc.
A company should offer a good product, great customer service, exceptional after-sales service and options to attract customers. But even with all of this, is the deciding factor when purchasing a product all about convenience?
We may know what product we want, if not, we research and identify various options. It is also great when the salesperson we communicate with is knowledgeable and helpful. A warranty on the product and the assurance that having the product maintained and repaired when needed is also a plus. Let's suppose we get all of this at a store and have our much needed product in hand only to face the prospect of a long, meandering line or slow checkout service?
Just think of the angst you experience at Thanksgiving and Christmas when you're faced with long lines. It can also be like this if the store or product is popular. Would facing this, ultimately change your decision about getting the product? For some people, it wouldn't.
I think for me it would. I have three children, two under the age of four and my time is literally never my own. There are so many options and alternatives now that a long line is definitely a deterrent for me. It is even more infuriating when there are several check-out counters with only one or two being manned. I often wonder why businesses do this when they can choose the alternative of providing a self-service method such as an interactive kiosk. Think of how much easier flying is when you check-in beforehand or you avoid the lines by going straight to the check-in kiosk.
Some may argue that it may seem impersonal and limit a company's ability to create a lasting relationship with a customer. Could it also be a missed sales opportunity to promote the benefits of additional products at the check-out line? Maybe not. There have been so many times when things are just so busy the salesperson cannot dedicate their time to the customer in front of them or forgets to offer add-on purchases anyway.
Most customers would return to a store that considers their time, and makes their shopping experience easier. On that account, being less harassed by the sales experience, they might even take the time to answer a quick survey at the kiosk, or entertain add-ons to their purchase which, once programmed correctly, the kiosk will never forget to offer.
According to the Zendesk Benchmark Q2 2013, there has been an increase in customer satisfaction reflected in an average customer satisfaction score of 81 percent. One of the main factors contributing to this is the increase of self-service offerings such as kiosks.
Interactive kiosks are the machinery of choice when it comes to giving the public as many options as possible when conducting transactions. We used to be limited to ATMs, but now self-service kiosks are everywhere, from supermarkets to theatres, to every type of retail location where transactions take place. Depending on the industry, businesses can choose outdoor models, freestanding, desktop or wall-mounted self-service kiosks that offer superior convenience and serve a variety of needs.
This makes it important for companies to choose the right kiosk provider that can understand their needs and provide service and support for the unit. A company with experience, that will ensure that every element of programming and maintenance will be taken care of with the utmost care and precision, as well as ease-of-use for both customers and employees. A kiosk provider should offer custom solutions with both hardware and software to ensure smooth operation at all times.
Previously posted on www.KioskMarketplace.com
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.