by Dina Townsend, Vice President, Retail Practice Leader of RMG Networks
A few months ago, Dallas, Texas saw the opening of high-end clothing store, Reformation. Along with its eco-friendly materials and celebrity-worthy styles, the retailer is introducing local fashionistas to a new way of shopping using touchscreens.
Around the store, there are touchscreen displays and iPads. Customers can use the devices to scan through available inventory or should they see something on the floor they want to try on, they simply digitally select the style and size preferred. The garment is immediately placed in a dressing room by a sales associate and voila — ecommerce meets instant gratification.
Around the world retailers are incorporating digital signage tools like this in innovative and exciting ways, especially as they struggle with low margins and the increasing demands from a digital consumer base. Digital signage has instant appeal as a way to connect to customers. Equally important, digital signage is a core component to the next generation of retail-aligned technologies, such as wearables and beacons.
Thinking about the myriad of possibilities the future of digital signage holds inspired us to document five future truths we’re seeing prove out in the retail space today.
- 1. Artificial Intelligence Is Real
- Digital signage deployments that include eye-tracking, voice and facial recognition are on the rise. AI-based systems such as this have the aptitude to manage and monitor audience reaction, noting, for instance, where on the screen people look. This capability feeds a wealth of information back to retailers looking to capture and optimize marketing efforts. It’s also driving the trend toward tailored content specific to the person currently looking at the screen. In the not too distant future, AI software will recognize a person and then choose what content to show them.
- 2. Digital Signage Is Doing Big Data
- The responsive nature of digital signage equipment is increasing in its ability to interact not only with users but also with other technologies such as cameras, mobile devices, sensors and apps. These innovative tools are capable of in-depth data processing, intelligent analysis and promotion of linked products and services, and equally important, delivering aggregated data to retail stakeholders, empowering them with the information they need to make smarter, faster, stronger sales.
- 3. Retail Is Mobilizing Around Digital
- Savvy retailers have begun to understand that any electronic display can be part of the digital signage ecosystem, and subsequently, we’re seeing an influx in mobile devices serving as micro sales centers in brick-and-mortar stores. Equally intriguing, smartphones and tablets transformed by today’s web-based digital signage solutions may travel with people rather than get passed by. Now that’s a sales opportunity no retailer can pass up.
- 4. Community Is King
- Social media is a huge part of the retail experience. Often it serves as the brand’s first impression or creates yet another channel with which to reach out to current and prospective customers. But more recently, retailers have begun tapping into the value of consumer-generated content by implementing social media strategies into their digital signage campaigns. As photo sharing and hashtagging become the new word-of-mouth, we’re seeing more retailers investing in technology that makes those content experiences more shoppable. Imagine a world where your social media community doubles as your online catalogue. One click and the content your friend just shared can be in your checkout cart.
- 5. Digital Signage at the Point of Sale Still Works
- It may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. Digital displays throughout the store help inform and inspire consumers to buy. Digital screens not only showcase potential products or services of interest, they also reduce perceived wait times at checkout. Best of all, they work. According to an InfoTrends survey, digital signage at the point of sale can help retailers increase sales volumes by nearly 32 percent. Now that’s a point worth making.
 “Narrowcasting: The Opportunity for Digital Signage and In-Store TV Networks .” Accessed September 29, 2017.
About the Author
A 20+ year veteran delivering and designing technology solutions, Dina Townsend guides brands through the process of creating and enhancing the customer experience in retail environments. Using digital concepts, she helps clients innovate, strategize, and sell beyond their competition. Previously based in the Silicon Valley, Dina worked with companies at all stages from start up to public entities, sorting through clients’ complex processes and disparate applications to assemble efficient, mission-critical management and workflow solutions in large scale enterprise ecosystems.
As a former columnist, Dina Townsend understands the importance of blending experience and expertise with expansive resources and a sense of humor, for effective and enduring outcomes. She believes retail, whether it is selling into the sector or selling to customers, is about exceptional storytelling. Dina operates on the principle that our collective goal is to lead our customers to a mutually beneficial conclusion that meets their needs, respects their proficiency, and cements their confidence that getting there was their own idea.