Today’s shoppers have evolved significantly from those of even from just a decade ago – now, shoppers want to see technology used throughout a brick-and-mortar store, and according to an Intel white paper titled “Strengthening Retail Brands with Digital and Mobile Technologies,” many customers will place higher value in retailers who use tech tools to create a more seamless, engaging experience.

This means that retailers have to use new, innovative ways to get – and keep – their customers’ attention. The paper adds, “Proactive retailers can boost shopper sentiment by offering more personalized promotions, compelling digital displays, and a wealth of product specifications to help shoppers make better-informed buying decisions.”

Digital signage in retail coupled with other technologies allow retailers to better engage with a customer by giving him or her more relevant information during the shopping experience and suggestively selling the items he or she is most interested in. Biometrics, RFID and touchscreen technologies combined with analytics ensure that a retailer displays content that is meaningful to the shopper, increasing the likelihood of a purchase through more personalized interactions.

Using RFID for Better Engagement and Convenience

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags that are attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information, and coupled with a strong content management system, they allow a retailer to learn what items customers are looking at or picking up. This allows a retailer to trigger product-specific digital content on digital displays, creating a natural, seamless way for a brand to interact with a customer.

For example, as a customer is looking at a shirt, the RFID tag activates nearby digital displays that suggest pants or a jacket that would look good with it and where the customer could find those items in the store – a new way of browsing the aisles. As the customer scrolls through the options on the touchscreen display and picks out a jacket, they can hit a button that tells a store employee to bring it over so they can try it on.

RFID tags also help to make the physical experience of shopping in-store better for a customer by reducing some frustrations. For example, if a shopper enters a store and wants to ask an employee about an item, but all employees are busy, he or she may get tired of waiting and leave – or worse, make the purchase from a competitor or an online-only retailer.

Placing RFID tags on inventory coupled with digital display technology can give a customer instantaneous service no matter how busy a store is, helping to eliminate the brick-and-mortar retailer fear, known as “showrooming,” that a customer is in a store only to browse before buying online.

After a shopper engages with a product, content is triggered and creates almost a “personal shopper” experience for the shopper. If all employees are busy, the customer can choose an item on a touchscreen, which will launch information about the product, encouraging further exploration of the product. The RFID tag and the touch interaction can also link to an inventory database, and the display then shows the customer that his or her item is in stock and can be purchased right then and there. The touchscreen display can either indicate where in the store (what aisle or area) the item is in and the customer can track it down, or it can let the customer ping an employee via the touchscreen to have the item brought in from the stockroom to the register.

The customer is able to use technology to learn more about the product and take control of the purchase – not through a computer or smartphone, but right in the store – and the RFID tags ensure that information on location and availability is consistently up to date in real time.

Creating Immersive Experiences through Better Content

Combining biometrics, analytics and digital signage make shopping a more exciting experience for the customer while increasing sales for a retailer by triggering content, tracking behaviors and creating stronger brand strategies.

Picture this at a grocery or specialty food store: As a customer picks up an item from an end cap, a digital display above the item shows allergy and caloric information as well as interesting tidbits like the region of the world the item is from, while another display shows popular recipes that use the food item. As the customer selects a recipe on the touchscreen, the display pulls information from a database to show where the other ingredients can be found in the store.

Customers leave with the makings of a great meal, and the store increased sales by using data and digital displays to suggest items its customers would never have purchased on their own. Meanwhile, a camera with biometrics capabilities captured the consumer’s demographics, his or her dwell time, and how many items were picked up and purchased from the specific end cap. All of this goes into a database to be analyzed, giving the retailer knowledge about trends, customers and engagement to create a stronger base for future marketing decisions.

By learning the demographics, traffic patterns and dwell times of their customers during different periods of times and day within a store, a retailer can schedule digital advertising on displays that would appeal to the customers most likely to be in the store, creating stronger understanding of an audience and better target marketing. Biometric tools such as facial detection help supply this data to the retailers. This marketing can be pre-supplied using planned strategies based on “known” shopper demographics, or can be contextual signage marketing products geared toward age group and gender.

The Way Forward

Digital signage used in tandem with the latest technologies like RFID, analytics and biometrics show where the future of retail lies. As customers become savvier, retailers can stay in sync with their needs by getting smarter about the way content and advertising is presented and how stores are designed to create the immersive, convenient experience modern shoppers desire.

Richard Ventura is Vice President of Business Development and Solutions for NEC Display Solutions. He can be reached at rventura@necdisplay.com