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Engaging Customers with Digital Retail: A Look at London Retail

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  • 4th March 2014

Anyone walking down Regent Street lately will have noticed an increasing number of stores embracing digital signage to catch the eyes of passersby. Well, apparently Eccomplished has as well, releasing a new survey and delving deep into the use of digital signage in stores throughout the capital.

As a leader in retail innovation, Eccomplished sent a team of researchers to a select group of 40 leading retail stores along London’s Regent and Oxford Street to conduct surveys related to the stores’ signage, layout, use of interactive media, mobile interaction, and Wi-Fi.

Random shoppers were also surveyed in an effort to determine if the use of digital technology within stores helps brands gain attention and stand out from the crowd. Let’s take a closer look at how stores in the capital are implementing technology and see if they are following best practices or leaving room for improvement.

Utilising Digital Signage

Retail Point of Sale Displays - Assigns

While digital signage is growing in popularity, only 26 percent of the London stores surveyed use digital signage. The stores that do take advantage of digital signage primarily use it only to promote their brand, failing to use it to promote individual in-store merchandise. Digital signage was also not used for any form of in-store interaction.

In-Store Digital Media Displays

In-store digital media was being utilised by many of the 40 retailers that were surveyed, but the majority of the digital platforms were being used for display purposes only, neglecting to provide content that spurs interaction.

Nearly 35 percent of the retailers surveyed used digital product signage in one form or another. However, only 25 percent were communicating with customers via interactive devices.

Engaging with Interactive Digital Media

According to the survey, advanced support for smartphones and tablets as well as the majority of the interaction took place in the technology retail stores and the technology departments of larger stores.

The disproportionate use of digital signage in technology retail environments is quite evident when compared with its use by fashion retailers.

For example, while interactive devices were used by 80 percent of home electronics or technology departments and retailers, only 16 percent of fashion retailers used the same technology. The numbers are equally disproportionate for the other digital technology categories.

Creating Space with Digital Kiosks and Interactive Media

Since tech retailers typically have smaller products and product ranges, it’s not surprising that they are more capable of creating space, but Apple’s store makes use of charging stations, Wi-Fi, and interactive devices to create a destination and eliminate the need for having a mountain of stock on hand.

Digital Displays In-Store Kiosks

A mere 28 percent of the stores surveyed used order kiosks or interactive media, both of which are terrific ways for retailers of every variety to save space.

Offering In-Store Wi-Fi

Surprisingly, only nine out of the 40 stores assessed provided their customers with free Wi-Fi, and only two of these nine retailers utilised clear signage and joining instructions. Furthermore, customers were unable to connect to an in-store Wi-Fi service nearly 10 percent of the time.

One customer was particularly annoyed with a certain store’s Wi-Fi service, stating, “It was annoying that I had to sign up with Reiss emails to log into the Wi-Fi. I already receive email updates from them, so this seemed pointless.”

Taking Advantage of Mobile Engagement

It is undeniable that more and more people are using their smart phones to shop and make online purchases. However, although an increasing number of people are shopping online, physical retail stores have yet to adapt to the changing habits of visitors.

For instance, none of the nine retailers providing free Wi-Fi sent their customers a personal message. While three of these nine stores were promoting an app, none sent a prompt to their Wi-Fi users to download the app.

In-strore wifi & digital engagement

London Shoppers Voice Their Opinion

The sample size of the survey is unclear, but it revealed consistent results among the 40 stores that were assessed.

Nearly one-third of those surveyed in-store found the store to offer a poor digital experience, adding little to no value to their shopping experience. Conversely, only 12 percent surveyed said a store provided an excellent digital media experience. In fact, only four stores involved in the study had their in-store digital experience rated as “excellent.”

The Goal of Digital Media

Data clearly shows that more and more consumers are shopping via their smart phones and other mobile devices. When successfully implemented into a smart and comprehensive marketing plan, digital media and mobile support can transform an ordinary store into a shopping destination.

Danny Chard is the Managing Director of Assigns Point-of-Sale and Graphic Display Systems

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