Retail and Digital Signage– You Can’t Beat Them So Join Them -

Retail and Digital Signage– You Can’t Beat Them So Join Them

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Brad Gleeson
The world of brick-and-mortar retail has changed forever. With the advent of showrooming, barcode scanning apps and even the new Fire phone from Amazon, retailers no longer control the shopping experience. But still, while growing rapidly, only about 10% of retail sales will occur online this year. So in-store marketing for retailers and retail brands is increasingly important.

The multiscreen, omni-channel marketing battle is here: the consumer has many screens to turn to, even while shopping. Which will they choose to pay attention to and which will they ignore? How can digital signage not just survive but thrive in this new environment? If you are a systems integrator selling digital signage into retail, understanding consumer needs, retailer challenges, and how technology can help tilt the playing field in favor of your clients, has never been more critical or more complex.

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 With the advent of in-hand consumer weapons like the new Amazon Fire phone, we’ve moved way beyond showrooming into a new era where the shopper has instant access to layers and layers of information.The digital transition in retail is in full swing and the buzzword du jour is “Omni-channel”. But what does this mean and where does the ProAV systems integrator fit in? To me, this just means that the consumer is expecting a seamless, consistent brand and shopping experience across whichever communications media they experience – from web, to phone, to social media, in-store and in print. The messaging should be clear, consistent and “on-brand.” Sounds simple enough, but in the hyper-competitive world of retail marketing that means your in-store digital technology needs to be flexible, responsive and integrated into the broader marketing network.

But what are the key levers that digital signage can provide for the retailer who’s striving to not just compete with on-line retail but sustainably co-exist? Again, if you assume the shopping experience is now in the consumer’s control, retailers need to understand what shoppers want. They need to turn passive shoppers into fans and evangelists by providing them with a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. Consumers want to be able to engage with a company in a physical store, on an online website or mobile app, through a catalog, or through social media.

"How does the ProAV supplier support dynamic and increasingly complex and technical needs of the instore retail experience?"

With the advent of Groupon, Living social and other “daily deal” sites, shoppers increasing expect a “deal”. When they are shopping, whether in-store or virtually, consumers respond best (“convert” to use the digital jargon) when given exclusive access to special products, promotions and services. They expect the retailer to simplify the order and delivery process, make it easy to find a size, color or style, and empower them to fulfill their shopping goals.

So how does the ProAV supplier support these dynamic and increasingly complex and technical needs? You must embrace them.

Much as retailers now embrace “showrooming” by offering on-line price matching, you must embrace the integration of in-store digital signage with the retailer’s objectives for omni-channel marketing. There’s no shortage of technology you can bring to the table to help the retailer build that seamless in-store experience, but your team must have the knowledge and capabilities to integrate the in-store technology into the on-line, digital marketing content in order to optimize the effectiveness of the solution.

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Photo courtesy of Samsung

Where to start, you ask? This depends on the engagement strategy of your retailer client and how they see technology fitting into the fabric of their in-store shopping experience.
•Digital screens facing out, showing “daily deals” or the current product marketing campaign designed to entice shoppers to cross the lease line. Deliverable: increased foot traffic
•Digital screens linked to their loyalty program, enabling shoppers to scan loyalty IDs and be presented with options unique to them.
•Beacon-enabled shopping where shoppers can opt-in to a Bluetooth network that presents shoppers with special deals and coupons as they approach certain areas of the store
•Interactive screens and tables that provide an “endless aisle” experience for shoppers who want to be able to choose from unlimited styles, colors and sizes, shipped directly to their home
•In-store displays that provide real-time social media posts from fans, including product reviews and recommendations from influencers and peers, rather than from advertisers
•Screens and digital experiences that blend into the aesthetic of the interior store design, intended to deliver a powerful brand experience that cannot be experienced any other way

•On-shelf displays, digital fact tags and other digital media that provide a rich information experience to shoppers similar to information they might get from the product website

Regardless of the type or location of retailer, products they sell or brand they represent, delivering a unified and effortless shopping experience has never been more important. Technical complexity has always been a good thing for the ProAV systems integrator that makes the investment into becoming an expert in current technology. Embrace the digital shopping transition and you can help your retailers shift from virtual showroom to visceral destination where consumers shop online and then go to the retail store for service and fulfillment.

 Brad Gleeson is a 20-year veteran of the digital display technology field, and a leading authority and early pioneer in the Digital Signage industry. Brad is a co-founding partner of TargetPath ( ), an executive management consulting firm specializing in providing business development solutions for high tech companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100 organizations. He can be reached at or (503) 570-8777.


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