The UK High Street is suffering, and it has been for decades. The rise of Internet shopping, business rate rises and changing shopping habits have all taken their toll on town centres. Retailers of all sizes are fighting to persuade consumers to move away from their screens and into brick-and-mortar stores — and one of the weapons being used is digital signage.
Rather than fighting back against the digital world, more and more shop managers and owners are embracing it. Whether it’s through the use of everyday tablet computers or sophisticated digital signage screens, the retail world is using technology with increasing success.
In an increasingly cutthroat retail environment, the need to build recognisable and trustworthy brands has never been greater. Everything from your store’s logo to the messages you send helps to build a strong brand, which is why digital signage has become so important on the High Street.
Owners and managers can reinforce their brand principles through changing sales and customer service messages. This is much easier and cheaper (in the long run) with digital signage that can be changed several times a week. How does this help customers? Well, consumers like to spend their money in shops they trust. And strong brands make this trust easy to manage.
Handing the Power to the Shopper
If the Internet has done anything for consumers it has put them in full control of their own shopping experience. Anyone can now research products, compare prices and look for inspiration from the comfort of their own home — or on the move. To compete with this level of convenience, brick-and-mortar stores are now using digital signage to give their customers the power to shape their own shopping experiences.
Interactive touchscreen kiosks are being used to allow customers to check availability and prices. This allows people to check a store’s inventory before they commit more time to the shopping experience. Smaller stores are using tablet computers along with sophisticated ePOS systems to deliver a similar experience at a fraction of the cost.
Improving Customer Service
Issues such as out-of-stocks and returns can adversely affect customer service, and slow down the purchasing process significantly. But such issues can be managed and improved with the use of digital signage. A sign might spend most of the day communicating messages about key products and sales, but when a customer touches the screen, it can become a very useful customer service resource.
The more you know about the needs and habits of your customers, the more you can tailor your in-store experience to generating sales. Digital signage records a range of data that can be used to guide your future retail offers. The most sophisticated systems offer eye-tracking technology, so you can see exactly what they’re looking at. And facial recognition software can help you to identify everything the sex of your average shopper to their age.
There is also an interactive element involved in the use of digital signage, and it’s surprisingly simple and affordable. For example, a customer can use the Bluetooth functionality on their phone to receive messages and offer feedback.
Have you ever wondered what a garment will look like once you put it on? Of course, the easiest way to find out is to try it on, but that takes time and effort — and not all stores offer this service. But digital signage allows products to be displayed in context, whether they’re clothes being worn or a household gadget being used. The great thing about digital solutions is that they allow for several stories to be told in a single day.
Consumers are still looking for the interactive, tactile and human experience brick-and-mortar stores deliver. By consulting with visual merchandising specialists, you can choose and implement the digital signage that will enhance
Rob Gamage is Managing Editor of Modern Retail. Combining many years of experience in publishing with a keen interest in small business and entrepreneurship, Rob is passionate about sharing interesting and inspiring content with retailers to help them grow.