Comment: Digitalising the store helps retailers connect the dots

It's a tricky challenge, choosing how to launch a company to the market. There are so many different ways to approach launch strategy. The RBTE show offered us the perfect platform and audience to showcase Limited Space Solutions to the retail sector. With an in-built audience of our ideal customer base; a great mix of brands, retailers and influencers; all alongside other technologically driven retail solutions; and hosted in an atmosphere where attendees were specifically looking to learn about new retail technology and innovations.

Retail is a key market for our business, and one in which technology is driving changes in how, when and where customers buy. This was evident from our co-exhibitors at the show – a real cross section of smaller tech start ups looking to get a foothold in the market, next to larger companies who have been supplying the retail industry for decades. Especially prevalent this year at the show was a real energy behind contactless and payment technology – something which dovetails nicely with our own offering. The show itself was busy on both days – seminars and keynote speeches were full to bursting with not a seat left unoccupied, and traffic and interest to our stand was consistent for the whole duration of the show.

Given the pressures of retailers at the moment to deliver sales and track customer behaviours from clicks to bricks and back again, technology seems the logical place to look to find a connect-the-dots solution.

What we experienced was a genuine interest from all the visitors to our stand to want to learn and understand more on how we can assist in driving sales and loyalty through in-store customer engagement. When walked through the solution on the stand, it soon became apparent to the visitor that the precision and flexibility offered by digital signage that is centrally managed and networked can reduce the dependence on in-store employees to execute the marketing programmes, thus allowing marketers to target specific areas within the store to send tailored messages to the shoppers. This journey with the visitor on the stand delivered us a wealth of contacts wanting to learn more about us and our solution services.

The show has given us further insight into what the retailers are really looking for in relation to new technological innovations, and in particular to in store digital communication and customer engagement. RBTE enabled us to showcase our understanding of today's customer expectation in context to the retail environment via scalable brand messaging that can be centrally managed and delivered to multiple environments.

Our NFC linked display proved very popular, as show attendees could see the direct link between producing an enhanced experience for their customers, whether providing a mobile version of a coupon at purchase to encourage shoppers to come back, or its potential to extend the content offering of the store through downloadable content. In the context of the broader RBTE trend this year for contactless payment, to have NFC-linked screens fit seamlessly.

From our experience at this year's RBTE, it's clear that the latest digital screens have a bright and interactive future in the retail landscape. In our view, this is a direct result of many retailers looking to create more "experiential" shopping that can compete with the ease and convenience of online, where customer service and the flow of vast amounts of information is provided on a targeted, real time basis. Offering additional ways for brands to communicate with shoppers in the retail space is one way to maximise physical presence and generate new ways to engage with consumers, but also bridge the gap even between mobile and online in the omnichannel retail landscape.

Screens have the potential to create a significant convergent media opportunity; improving access to information in real time, allowing brands to guide customers through a shopping journey and even generating potential to better monetise the store experience. Retailers and brands are no longer thinking just in terms of just two dimensions – in-store and online – but are eager to embrace the full spectrum of potential touch points. This can mean hiring an experienced in-house team who understand technology, content and media or outsourcing the expertise to achieve maximum results, to those well-skilled in deploying this type of media infrastructure.

Measuring and analysing the response to communications is also becoming easier given advances in measurement technology (face recognition, mobile interaction, touch screen, etc.). In turn, these results should allow retailers to adapt and refresh the infrastructure and content to keep customers engaged and entertained, basically creating a more connected environment.

The potential for digital and other messaging solutions to enhance retail in an omnichannel fashion is vast but brands, with the assistance of new media professionals, must integrate them in an effective way. And that would be my key learning from the RBTE experience: integration of technology is the key to a better connected retail future with the retail chains proving to be an ideal environment for managed networked brand messaging solutions.

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