Digital Signage

Digital’s expanding role for brick-and-mortar retail

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Retailers who can create a seamless user experience across both digital and in-store will have a marketing advantage in 2021 and beyond. John Moezzi, of Sharp NEC Display, offers some insights.

by Elliot Maras

With consumers returning to stores following the COVID-19 lockdowns in many regions, retailers have an opportunity to return to growth. One factor they need to be cognizant of is that shopping habits have changed, and many consumers are more comfortable with digital commerce.

More than 83% of shoppers bought gifts online between Christmas and New Year’s Day, according to Silverback Strategies, a digital performance marketing agency in Washington, D.C. that polled over 1,000 shoppers. Of these shoppers, nearly 72% browsed products on e-commerce sites like Amazon.

Retail store websites were the next most common place online shoppers browsed for gifts, according to the survey, with 51% of respondents saying they visited a store website.

Retailers who can create a seamless user experience across both digital and in-store will have a marketing advantage in 2021 and beyond. This includes deploying technology to spur business, attract customer attention and boost customer loyalty.

One such technology is self-service kiosks.

To get insight on how the technology can be a differentiator, Kiosk Marketplace reached out to John Moezzi, national account manager for Sharp NEC Display solutions. Here’s the edited interview conducted via email.

Q.The pandemic has clearly impacted in-store consumer traffic but now as more shoppers are feeling comfortable about going back into physical retail stores, will kiosks take on a stronger and more critical aspect?

A. Most retailers paused the use of in-store kiosks during the pandemic. There was a shift from touchscreen displays to interactivity driven by mobile. This works well in certain applications, but there are many applications where a kiosk is far more useful. As immunity levels rise I believe we will see retailers return to the use of kiosks especially for those applications that require larger displays.

Q. Pre-COVID, what kinds of digital transformations were taking place in retail? And now, how have these digital technologies changed?

A.There has been a push in retail for some time to engage the consumer in an omnichannel approach that seeks to provide a seamless and integrated customer experience. The omnichannel approach aims to provide a similar experience whether the engagement is online, mobile or in-store. This trend will continue with technologies that provide interactive digital information and empower applications such as “buy online, pickup in store,” in-store wayfinding, endless aisle, in-store product comparisons, suggestive selling and the like.

Q. How are kiosks and digital signage transforming to meet the changing needs of retailers today?

A. With changing in-store policies and product runs on certain items we have seen digital signage used in the front of store to communicate current policies and expectations of shoppers as well as out-of-stock items. Digital signage continues to be a focus for promotional messaging, with kiosks being central to the self-service approach that many customers embrace.

Q. What capabilities do kiosks, digital signage or other AV solutions offer that blur the lines between what is physical and digital in a retail space?

A. E-commerce has been gaining ground on brick-and-mortar retail sales for years. The pandemic supercharged this trend. Some think shopper habits have been changed permanently.

However, I believe we will continue to see shoppers embrace omnichannel engagement where lots of browsing and research takes place online with in-store visits dedicated to seeing, touching and trying products.

Whether the shopper ultimately purchases online or in-store should not be that important to the retailer. What is important is providing a great experience for the customer across channels.

Technologies such as digital signage and kiosks that enable a seamless experience for the customer between online and in-store are invaluable in meeting customer expectations.

Q. Why is it important to engage customers in such a way that is both physical and digital and push the boundaries in retail?

It is the expectation of today’s consumer that a retailer will engage with them in a consistent manner whether online or in-store. The same options, availability of information and product recommendations readily available online must also be made available in-store.

Curated products coupled with data-rich and smart digital signage will raise the bar on the customer experience while leading to longer dwell times and increased sales.

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