Matt Sherwen, Sherwen Studios
Today’s shoppers seek omnichannel retail solutions, even if they do not know it, and retailers must offer consistent experiences as customers continue to shop online and in-store.
This in-store-online integration can be vastly improved with digital signage. It provides an essential bridge between the two, allowing customers to enjoy the benefits that both options bring to the overall shopping experience. When handled correctly, using digital signage in-store can enable you to maximise the benefits of online shopping (such as personalised touches, real-time reactions and user-generated content) while highlighting the best of in-store shopping, such as customer service.
We have spent years working with some of the biggest brands in the UK, helping to create dynamic shopping experiences like no others. We know that while digital signage is a clear winner for larger brands, the accessibility of the technology allows smaller retailers to easily incorporate it into their omnichannel strategies.
Digital signage helps message consistency
The real value of digital signage lies in the consistency of messaging between your online and offline offerings. Retailers can learn to integrate the same key messages in-store and online using digital displays, POS materials and even the humble QR code.
Omnichannel strategies are important for long-term retail success because customers want to know that their expectations will be met, no matter how they choose to shop with you. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing online-only offers or promotional codes that can’t be used in-store.
Thanks to digital signage solutions, stores can start to bring in the best of both worlds. Not only will this help modernise the traditional shopping experience, but it can also significantly help to bring personalisation into physical outlets. By making each customer feel unique and cared for, you’re much more likely to boost your sales and keep customers.
Don’t underestimate the impact of QR codes
For smaller retailers or those with reduced budgets, integrating QR codes into the mainstream could be a strategic move for any omnichannel approach. While QR codes aren’t the same as other digital signage solutions, they can help retailers link to your online platforms and build relationships with customers even after they leave your store.
Sherwen Studios has conducted thorough research into how vital QR codes are becoming. Within our Bricks & Mortar Stores Vs. Online Retail, we conducted consumer research to determine if customers would be interested in using them. We found that four in ten shoppers would actively improve their purchasing in-store if QR codes were mainstream, rising to 63% of those aged 16-24.
By featuring QR codes on store shelves or product packaging, retailers can easily add them to any omnichannel strategy.
For example, a shopper could find an item they were interested in and use this code to register their interest online without leaving the store. By adding items to a ‘save for later’ list, this method could remind customers of things they may not have bought in-store. Then, they can take something they see in the store and show it to their family or friends later.
Additionally, QR codes could be used in a variety of different ways, including (but not limited to)
- Checking in-store stock levels without relying on help from a staff member
- Requesting additional information about a product (eg usage suggestions, video demonstrations, highlighting other relevant products)
- Syncing with wider digital and content marketing activities.
For minimal financial outlay, retailers can successfully track the relationship between offline and online sales.
Digital video integration
If you have a bigger budget, the growing use of digital video integration could be an excellent way to get people to visit your stores. When done right, a digital display will combine all your online channels by pulling in content from your online store or social commerce channels.
Online shopping offers a more reactive experience. The ease of shopping platforms means that retailers can adapt to trends and highlight best-sellers at the touch of a button. This has always been trickier for physical retailers. Still, thanks to digital video displays, it is now easier to adapt and change your product highlights, creating a more responsive in-store experience.
You can keep up with real-time trends using digital video integration throughout your store. You can change your look throughout the day and point people to your best-selling products as you would online. You can even use automation to highlight positive customer feedback and user-generated content from your social media channels to help customers make better buying decisions.
The possibilities are endless. You could convert digital displays to signage, allowing customers to find key products displayed in your shop window. You could even change the messaging throughout the day to highlight any sustainability or environmental credentials – allowing you to replicate the content you’re promoting on your online platforms.
Digital POS material needs to reflect your online options
The proliferation of online voucher codes, discounts and cashback sites means it can often be far more financially advantageous for shoppers to buy online, even when physically standing in the retail store.
Sherwen Studios’ research has found that 25% of shoppers say that price differences between online and offline are what they like least about shopping in a physical retail outlet. So, any digital POS material needs to show what options are available online.
Many retailers still use static, printed POS materials, which are bad for the environment and quickly become outdated. Also, these traditional point-of-sale materials are not as effective as online ones because they use generic language and don’t have any personalisation. But digital POS solutions like self-service kiosks, retail tablets and portable till points make it easier for customers to log into their own accounts and find the latest deals, loyalty rewards and personal information.
In short, it lets retailers make the in-store shopping experience more personalised and customer-focused.
Retail moves quickly, so, you need to be able to respond quickly to any changes in how people act. Thanks to the latest tech, digital POS material can be updated quickly and easily with little effort, allowing you to focus on delivering better customer service elsewhere. We know that customers want to feel valued. They aren’t looking for straight-forward transactional sales; customer retention is about focusing on what is important to each shopper.
For national retailers, it’s about having the confidence to use your signage to focus on local issues or trends. Omnichannel strategies are about offering consistent experiences, but you still need to be attuned to how different demographics and geographical areas have individual needs. For example, in a department store environment, digital signage could be adjusted to quickly direct customers to umbrellas or rainproof products if the weather suddenly turned into an unexpected downpour. That would allow you to capitalise on hyperlocal marketing while retaining that core consistency.
Investing in digital signage should be cost-effective
As technologies become increasingly mainstream, the costs of investing in digital signage are becoming more accessible for smaller retailers. But the real benefit lies in that digital signage can offer an almost immediate return on any investment and directly contribute towards increased sales.
Incorporating digital signage is becoming more cost-effective because many plugin integrations connect with your existing infrastructure. It’s not about buying new technology; it’s about maximising the effectiveness of the technology you already have. The latest plugins are designed to allow you to link your in-store and online offerings with minimal input. You could even use automation to pull the latest content and imagery from your online and social channels.
But the true value of the latest digital signage solutions is that you’re modernising your in-store options. It’s about learning from what works well online and finding realistic ways to bring those experiences into the physical outlets. At the moment, digital signage is very much seen as a luxury – but within the next two to three years, we anticipate that it will be an essential component of any omnichannel strategy. Retailers who are slow to implement these new solutions may find it harder to attract shoppers, and history has shown that those stores that fail to embrace digital changes are more likely to fall by the wayside.