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Digital Transformation at a Retailer Near You

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Digital signage-based experiences are vital to future-proofing retail in ways that allay concerns post-pandemic, lean in to Gen Z, and make life a whole lot more convenient.

Beth Warren

SVP Marketing and Retail Strategy, Creative Realities, Board Member, Digital Signage Federation

For years, retailers have leveraged the power of the digital display to drive store traffic, spotlight news, and automate dynamic content in a way that’s easier on the planet and relieves the store of the burden of manual change outs of conventional promotional signage.

Since the pandemic, the role of technology has made its way into the retail ecosystem in more nuanced — but equally effective — ways to sharpen the customer experience and cultivate why a consumer chooses a physical location in the first place. The next time you visit your local big box, grocery, pharmacy, or specialty retail store, take a moment to see if these trends like AI, personalization, and automation have made their way to your favorite store. Retailers are quickly catching on that digital signage-based experiences help remove friction, leaving customers with a far more satisfying visit and future-proofing the value of brick-and-mortar.

Service on demand

Shoppers are coming in for primarily two reasons: to get what they need on demand and to enjoy the physical aspect the store offers — tactile senses and service/support. What retailers are recognizing is the power of technology to help support a more immersive and self-guided experience, as well as how operational platforms and digital tools help the sales associates deliver transparency to inventory and help shoppers get what they ultimately need — even in the face of lagging supply chain issues and increased consumer demand for everyday items.

Take personalization personally

The reason e-commerce retailers have access to data is so that they can accurately predict, anticipate, recommend, and create desire in ways that resonate with the individual — by name. Brick-and-mortar retailers can learn by watching the nuances of digital-first brands and simulating it with new AI layers that can trigger content based on who is in front of the digital signage screen. This is particularly effective when catering to multiple demographics to help curate product assortment and display what is most relevant to individuals.

Mobile in-store mode

The battle of holding shoppers’ attention during any visit has been a challenge for retailers whose instinct is to pull the eyes up. Instead of fighting that screen in hand, retailers like Nike and Home Depot have developed a “mobile in-store mode” as part of their app that changes functionality upon entering the location. It can help guests navigate, locate, and facilitate new ways of transacting either through QR codes, self-checkout, or in-store pickup. This has made an enormous difference in helping more traditional brands relate to digital natives in new ways.

Mobile can also interface with digital signage form factors by allowing the phone to take over the content on the screen, so shoppers can do things like download coupons, share content, or take product education with them.

The pandemic has gifted retailers with new ways of providing convenience as well as inspired the digital signage industry to ramp up technology integration to make experiences like curbside pickup here to stay. After all, brick-and-mortar fulfills a deep-seeded need for immersive, entertaining, and inspirational experiences that online shopping will never fulfill. It’s the digital technology that helps keep it fresh, fun, and frictionless.

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