Beyond Signs: Integrating Into Existing In-Store Systems

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A Holistic Approach to Retail Digital Signage

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Most digital signage providers are focused on the task of delivering targeted content to their customers as they make purchase decisions throughout the store. However, in today’s business environment, for an in-store retail marketing strategy to be successful, it is vital to integrate all in-store systems into a multi-tiered framework for deploying applications into various heterogeneous environments, integrating with new and existing business systems, and presenting a unified view to the customer across multiple form factors. By combining the power of in-store retail solutions, dynamic digital signage, and a common application framework, an integrated (holistic) in-store strategy ensures the highest ROI.

Digital signage providers who cater to the retail industry are focused on creating and delivering relevant content to customers as they walk through the store. Research has shown that approximately 50 percent of customers who enter a store make purchase decisions as they walk through the store. This reinforces the goal of most digital signage providers to influence the customer by delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time and the right location. This dynamic messaging characteristic is clearly the unique power that digital signage brings to the retail industry today.

What most providers overlook, and leave to the expertise of the in-store IT/marketing organizations, is the integration of their digital signage network into existing in-store systems such as POS, inventory management, retail back office, mobile point-ofservice, and human resource management. These systems and others are integral to the operation of the retail environment and implement critical functions such as in-store marketing strategies, promotion management, inventory management, and so on.

By integrating their digital signage network with their instore systems, retailers can control pricing, plan and deploy promotions, and encourage participation in in-store loyalty programs by delivering relevant messages based on the intended audience at different times of the day.

IN-STORE RETAIL SYSTEMS
In-store retail systems are vital to the successful operation of any retail environment. In-store systems control promotions, manage inventory, deploy marketing strategies, and train employees to create a better shopping experience for the customer. By tapping into these data sources and linking them to the content displayed on in-store digital signage networks, effective and relevant messaging can be delivered to meet the demands of the customer and the strategies of the retailer — happy customers produce higher revenues for the retailer and a better ROI.


IDS Menus, of Holbrook, NY, designed a dynamic, multifunctional digital signage system at Berry Chill’s restaurants. Berry Chill’s main goal in installing digital signage was to expand their offering beyond just yogurt. (Photo courtesy of IDS Menus)

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Human Resource Management: HRMS unlocks the full value of your organization’s workforce. HRMS enables you to put the right people in the right jobs, develop and reward top performers, retain key talent for the long term, and increase efficiency and operating performance throughout your organization. By integrating the in-store digital signage network to an HRMS system, a retailer can provide an employee facing digital solution for sales training, corporate messaging, interactive access to employee data, and enhanced customer support, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of employees as they service their customers.

Retail Back Office: Retail back office offers a flexible and efficient way to manage critical store operations, while improving customer service and enhancing profits. Store management and reporting functionality are accessible from various devices throughout the store, from front registers to back-office PCs. Real-time access to accurate information across stores, coupled with the ability to analyze in-store data, enables managers to react quickly to business needs and trends and to more effectively meet customer demands. By integrating their in-store back office system to their digital signage network, retailers can make real-time decisions about products, services, and promotions, and deliver relevant messaging to meet customer demands — a unique aspect of digital signage networks.Mobile Point-of Service: Retail mobile point-of-service can reduce costs, improve customer service, and increase profits by offering innovative ways to bring point-of-sale functionality right to customers. Taking advantage of wireless technology available in retail mobile point-of-service means that customers can spend less time in checkout lines during busy shopping times, reducing the need to build additional lanes to manage peak loads. This also frees up costly floor space for additional merchandising — leading to increased sales per square foot for the store. “In-store digital media is needed today because most consumers in North America now live with digital media via the internet and handheld devices at home and at work,” says Bill Collins, principal with technology consultancy DecisionPoint Media Insights. “They like it. They interact with it, they search for information on it, and they play games with it. It is such a fundamental part of consumers’ lives that they would think it odd if digital media disappeared from their day-today experience at the precise moment that they walk into a retail store.”Retail Point-of-Sale: Retail point-of-sale provides the flexibility, responsiveness, and scalability to meet even the largest retailer’s point-of-sale requirements, leading to improved customer service and higher sales. Access to real-time customer, product, and market information means more opportunities to turn occasional shoppers into lifetime customers. In addition, retail point-of-sale offers features that improve customer service, reduce costs, and manage in-store promotions. Retailers have long used end-caps and other static in-store signage to generate excitement for special offers. Issues arise when the distribution of the signage is not compliant with the demands of the corporate marketing department and promotions are ineffective because the supporting signage were never displayed in the store. In-store digital signage gives the retailer much more power and flexibility with these campaigns, driven by three key capabilities: Campaigns can be centrally managed and distributed; campaigns can be localized to specific stores or regions within the store; and campaigns can be targeted based on time-ofday and day-of-week. More timely messages can also educate customers about products or services of interest, if only they knew about them. If a retailer has a food court or coffee shop, it makes sense to let shoppers know that a fresh batch of coffee was just brewed or the rolls just came out of the oven. Remember the excitement created by Krispy Kreme bakeries when they advertised a new batch of fresh donuts were being delivered to customers. That kind of time-sensitive delivery is simply not possible with static signage — if anything, it replaces the intrusive and annoying habit of the loudspeaker announcement.Retail Store Inventory Management: Retail store inventory management allows store personnel to quickly and easily perform an array of in-store operations using a high-speed internet connection and portable, handheld wireless devices, or radio frequency (RF) scanning guns, to receive merchandise, manage physical inventories, conduct stock counts, order stock, or transfer stock. By integrating the in-store digital signage network with inventory management, a retailer can fine tune and measure the effectiveness of promotions based on the availability of merchandise. For instance, suppose a C-Store is trying to improve sales of soft drinks. In-store and pump-top digital signage would enable the company to run special promotions on soft drinks elsewhere in the store or at the gas pump, driving traffic there. Those promotions can include time-sensitive details (“Hurry! Offer ends at noon today!”), a password- type system (“Tell the cashier you saw this message to get 15 percent off Coke products!”), or a mobile coupon system that transmits a digital coupon to the customer’s mobile device as they interact with the digital signage system. Furthermore, by integrating the digital promotion with the in-store inventory management system the promotion can be dynamically changed from Coke to Sprite as inventory is depleted.Common Application Framework: A common application framework is a multi-tiered functional structure for deploying retail applications into various heterogeneous environments, integrating with new and existing business systems, and presenting a unified view to the user across multiple form factors. Its component-based architecture provides a clean separation of functional layers allowing for simple modification, expansion, and reconfiguration. The design philosophy is based on the premise that business environments change rapidly and software should be engineered with the assumption that change will need to be incorporated efficiently, without major rework or redeployment.THE FUTURE IS NOW
This is what is possible when we integrate all in-store systems:
Integrated Digital Signage Networks: Interactivity with digital signage networks allows shoppers to gather information of their choosing. Measuring real-time results track shoppers’ engagement with the screens and collate those results with electronic point-of-sale data. This empowers retailers to know what digital signage content works best to stimulate sales.Interactive Suggestive Selling on Networked Kiosks: As retailers integrate databases for their various in-store digital media technologies, interactive suggestive selling will occur via digital signage networks, via personal interactive devices, via mobile phones, etc., depending on the preferences expressed to the retailer by individual shoppers.Personal Interactive Devices: Personal interactive device technology can be integrated with digital signage networks to facilitate personal content on the digital signage screens. This interface with digital signage technology will happen as the digital signage and other in-store devices are equipped with wireless intelligence that recognizes the personal interactive device and, thus, the shopper.Virtual Sales Associates: This technology allows a retailer to develop sales experts off-site who can serve many stores. It promises to improve customer service, enabling retailers to provide shoppers with the same depth of information on products and services that they have come to expect online. Data from a shopper’s interactions with the virtual sales associates can become part of the digital media database.Interactivity via Mobile Phones: Payment, Search, and Control of other In-Store Media: In their book on in-store digital media, Lighting Up the Aisle, consultants Laura Davis-Taylor and Adrian Weidmann write, “Not only can mobile…be used to quickly follow through on promotional calls-to-action, but…[also] for virtual rainchecks, instant coupons [and] social networking…. One of the more exciting applications is…‘local search,’ where shoppers can text in a [mobile phone text message] to download promotional offers.... Even better, users can dig into the product promos [using mobile phones] to check price and store availability.”Most digital signage providers are focused on the task of delivering focused content to their customers as they make purchase decisions throughout the store. However, in today’s business environment, for an in-store retail marketing strategy to be successful, it is vital to integrate all in-store systems into a multi-tiered framework for deploying applications into various heterogeneous environments. By combining the power of instore retail solutions, dynamic digital signage, and a common application framework, an integrated in-store strategy ensures the highest ROI.Richard F. Trask (dtrask@starmountsystems.com ) is vice president of marketing at Starmount (www.starmountsystems.com), a multi-channel product development and professional services company dedicated to innovating customized integrated products and services for point-of-sale, point-of-service, digital signage, interactive kiosks, and mobile hand-held solutions, independent of platform choice.

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