The ever-increasing popularity of digital signage has made its presence in retail locations quite common. Yet, whether it’s static signage, television commercials, online advertising, or brick and mortar digital displays, today’s shoppers are saturated in broadcasted content, making it likely a majority of this information is being filtered out. In response, the advertising and digital signage industries have augmented content to include other pertinent information such as weather forecasts, ticker feeds, news crawls and more in an attempt to draw attention back to their displays. While this solution has possibilities in some settings, an over-abundance of data tends to overcrowd screens, watering down the intended messaging with information that can typically be accessed via most smartphones.
Savvy retailers are finding new ways to reach shoppers digitally and entice them into their stores through interactive technology. Interactive digital technology invites consumer engagement while providing the ability to adjust content based on external triggers, such as weather changes, proximity sensing, gender demographics, shopping behaviors, and more.
YETI Flagship Brings the Wild in to the Store
Recently, YETI, the renowned Austin-based manufacturer of outdoor lifestyle products, opened their first-ever YETI Flagship store located right in the heart of Texas’ state capitol. Their location, a 20th century building that survived a devastating flood in 1935, was renovated to embrace all things wild, the ultimate YETI destination. From videos of bears taking on YETI coolers to displays showcasing products in outdoor settings, this YETI flagship integrated digital signage in a multi-zone strategy to optimize the customer experience through entertaining, informative, and inspirational content while driving both brand quality and sustainability awareness.
LEGO’s Star Wars Experience Brings the Galaxy Closer to Earth
Since the latter 2000’s, LEGO has implemented augmented reality in their stores via their Digital Box which allows shoppers to scan almost any boxed LEGO set and see the model come to life in 3D. In addition, LEGO also offers their Mosaic Maker which provides consumers with their own one-of-a-kind, personalized LEGO mosaic portrait. However, LEGO’s London store just took the customer experience to the dark side (or the rebel side, whichever is preferred). In a week-long campaign following the premier of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” movie, the UK store promoted the latest characters and their Star Wars-themed brick sets with an outdoor digital campaign that invited interactive engagement with on-screen LEGO sets. Using gesture sensor technology, passersby were prompted to choose sides and “build” spaceships with a swipe of their hands. Faster building translated to higher scores and the possibility to “become a true Jedi Master”. In addition, participants were able to take photos with “crews” that could then be shared on social media.
New Retail Concept Infuses China’s Retail Businesses
While online sales penetration in China is the highest in the world, brick-and-mortar businesses still make up more than 80% of their total retail sales. This is due in part to Jack Ma’s “New Retail” concept which he unveiled two years ago, melding the best of both the in-shop and online experiences together. Ma is the founder of Alibaba which operates the country’s largest e-commerce platforms and has more than half a billion consumers shopping on its marketplaces. According to Jeffrey Towson, a Peking University professor and private equity investor who closely follows the development of China’s retail sector, “‘New Retail’ is a bold extension of Alibaba’s strategy of pure digital competition into the physical world. And it hinges on the strange ‘economics of participation’…’New Retail’ means a massive expansion in their brands and merchants and in the participation and activities of their consumers.”
- Alibaba Changes Grocery Shopping
While Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets look like most other grocery stores, they are instead a smartphone-powered experience. Patrons use phones to scan barcodes to get product information and make cashless payments via the Alipay platform embedded in the Hema app.
- Alibaba Simplifies Car Buying
Rather than several visits to countless dealer locations facing aggressive sales tactics, Alibaba has rolled out its first “auto vending machine” with Ford in the southern city of Guangzhou. The Ford auto vending machine provides a no-pressure experience where customers browse vehicles, select and pick up models to test drive for three days, then make a dealer appointment when ready to buy.
- Alibaba Increases Patronage in Malls
The New Retail concept has also upped the game for China’s malls. “Virtual shelves” allow customers to choose the merchandise they want, and if the color and size isn’t in stock, they can scan with an app to have the exact product delivered directly to their homes. Further, powder rooms are equipped with “magic mirrors” that allow customers to virtually apply makeup then make purchases from vending machines.
Other Retailers Bitten by Digital Interactive Technology Bug
- Cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury is another brand that put the “magic mirror” on the wall. When customers sit in front of the AR mirror it scans an image of their face, which then virtually applies ten of the brand’s iconic looks in under a minute.
- Lacoste’s LCST AR mobile app allows customers to virtually try on shoes and create AR experiences with window displays, in-store signage, and promotional postcards.
- American Apparel’s mobile app-driven experiences also encourage engagement with in-store signage and displays, and their product scans provide details, reviews, color options, and pricing.
- Timberland drives more foot traffic with their virtual fitting room that becomes one of the store’s main window displays.
- Toys “R” Us created a “digital playground” targeted towards kids. With the downloaded mobile app, children can unlock AR-enabled activities and bring mascot Geoffrey to life.
Digital signage campaigns that simply stream video loops or product image slideshows are becoming more and more passé. To be successful, retail digital signage must embrace cutting-edge interactive technology and the “Era of Experience” to stand out from other screens and keep customers coming back. Digital interactive technology has the collaborative power to extend shopper dwell times that can strengthen product sales while bringing the brand back in to the shopping experience