Technology’s constant state of evolution has long led industry analysts to predict the replacement of brick-and-mortar stores with e-commerce. Though online retail sales have continued to grow over the past decade, the value of a physical storefront remains critical as it provides the foundation for omnichanneling through a digitally-enhanced in-store experience.
Although retailers have been using digital signage as a way to advertise and deliver information since the 1970s, the role this technology has played has changed drastically over the past four decades by becoming increasingly dynamic. Going beyond replacing a poster with an LCD screen, innovative retailers are now able to link their billboard, TV, print and web messaging to create a social media presence and deliver mobile solutions that drive the digital in-store experience and further the evolution of digital signage.
The Growth of Digital Signage
Like most technology, digital signage has undergone numerous evolutionary stages with its first variations focused on delivering critical information to consumers while also enhancing company awareness and brand recall. Retailers were able to update their signs according to the time of day and location, and for a time, this was the norm of the technology. However, as competition rose and prices improved, new stages of evolution occurred; interactivity meant that digital signs evolved into kiosks which provided heightened levels of customer service. Armed with this technology, businesses were faced with a new type of interactive solution that engaged and enhanced the customer experience.
When the consumer electronics industry began using digital signage as a way of engaging customers, the introduction of technological interaction as a critical component of the shopping experience gave consumers the type of digital in-store experience that kept them involved. It also integrated social media, mobile devices, and more, to deliver a complete and comprehensive connection.
Of course, the benefits don’t just exist for the consumer; rather, data has shown that digital signage has a measurable impact on audience retention and loyalty of approximately 30%, as well as boosted satisfaction by 46%. But how does this technology enhance the customer experience?
Building Consumer-Brand Relationships
Businesses are well-versed in the reach and value of repeat, loyal customers. When it comes to promoting a business, the consumer-brand relationship is the most important thing in establishing customer loyalty. Generating a presence is critical to providing a foundation for this type of relationship, and direct mail, TV ads, website, a social presence or print all contributes to this connection which allows the retailer to reach their customers with targeted messaging.
Being able to transform a standard shopper into a loyal fan requires a sustainable and attractive experience that strengthens this type of relationship. Adopting multiple digital signage displays around a retail store works to improve the experience in multiple ways and can reduce customer frustration and boredom, display important information about product lines, discounts, and opportunities, and keep consumers entertained while standing in line. At the same time, digital signage displays also reduce confusion by providing directions and assistance.
Empowering consumers in these ways not only helps to engage them, but also contributes to a sense of respect for the consumer – if they believe the retailer respects them, studies have shown that they will honor that relationship by spending more money and sharing their appreciation with their peers (and other customers).
Engagement Strategies In-Store
Digital signage displays play a key role in working to engage and inspire a retailer’s target market audience. Several methods that have proven to be successful in creating engagement with shoppers include:
- Endless aisle kiosks – These are ideal for retailers who want to show more products than their premises square footage allows. Endless aisle kiosks permit customers to browse inventory options that aren’t available on the shop floor.
- Digital menu boards – Menu boards provide the opportunity to highlight certain products. Whether they are used to supply services or food, this can be a dynamic selling tool.
- Welcome boards – The first impression that a customer receives when they enter a store is critical, and a dynamic board that highlights the brand and message can heighten the relationship with consumers.
- Remote expert access – Numerous specialty retailers struggle with providing product experts on the sales floor at all times, meaning that consumers might not receive the service they want (or expect). An “ask an expert” kiosk could provide video-chat opportunities for those in need of extra assistance.
- Infotainment – Whenever shoppers are waiting for customer service, there is an opportunity to advertise, market, and influence. Reducing the perceived wait time by offering some form of entertainment can enhance the customer experience.
What Does Digital Signage Do For Retailers?
While there are countless ways digital signage boosts the customer experience and engagement, the question remains – what is the impact on the bottom line for retailers? Utilizing a digital strategy works to deliver the right content in the right way by ensuring a value-add to the consumer. This helps to drive awareness and interest for the product or service being offered and helps the retailer stand apart from other companies that rely on price-drive or commodity-based relationships. Being able to present an image of the brand as one that is dedicated to the consumer, the use of digital signage improves the personal nature of the shopping experience.
A press release that was issued by Oracle also suggests that 81% of shoppers will pay more for a better customer experience, meaning that even if a retailer charges more than its competitors, customers will continue to shop at that store if they are given the right experience. Not only are consumers willing to pay more, but 44% will pay a premium of more than 5% if it ensures a better experience.
While online sales continue to grow, the value of a physical storefront should be included in a retailer’s strategic plans. The influence digital signage has on the customer experience and loyalty not only affects the bottom line, but also contributes to a positive ROI that retailers cannot afford to overlook.