Bricks and mortar retailing is far from dead. In fact, research by PwCdiscovered that, on average, 30% of us prefer to do our research in-store – and, typically, 2-3 times as many of us would rather make our purchases in a shop than online.
The nature of our in-store experience is changing – driven and enabled by technology. According to a survey commissioned by Adobe, the number one strategic priority in 2017 for 54% of retailers is to improve the customer experience, while the top two digital priorities – both online and in-store - are a) targeting and personalisation (33%) and b) social media engagement (29%). Retailers are, the survey notes, optimising for mobile: the digital future of retail will be built around the ubiquitous mobile phone.
Interactive flat panel displays
A recurring theme in retail technology is how it can be used to engage consumers and to create unique, personalised experiences. Interactivity is seen as the key to achieving this – and that’s leading to rapid growth in retail usage of interactive flat panels. Researcher MarketsandMarkets believes that the worldwide IFPD market will grow at more than 15% between now and 2020, reaching a value of over £20 billion.
LED is now ready for retail prime time. Once only feasible for bright, outdoor displays to be viewed from a distance, pixel pitches have reduced significantly making this technology ideal for retail. With pixel pitches from a tiny 0.9mm, viewing distances can now be as low as 1m depending on the application. Producing a seamless image with high resolution quality, LED now represents a compelling alternative to LCD in retail installations.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
Increasing numbers of digital signage screens are being equipped with NFC technology to create dynamic, personalised experiences: you walk up to a digital signage screen, and suddenly the on-screen content changes. The screen knows who you are and what you like, because both it and your phone are NFC-enabled. The NFC market is forecast to grow by around 18% in the coming years. NFC is also the technology behind how we’re paying for things.
2015 was the first year that cash was used for less than half of all payments by consumers in the UK. Payments UK believes that, by 2025, that will have reduced to less than a quarter. It’s no longer about physical cards, though: we’re entering the era of the mobile wallet. That goes beyond technologies like Apple Pay: increasingly, those mobile wallets also hold loyalty cards, offers/coupons and so on. Cashless payments are yet another example of the interactivity between consumers, mobile phones and POS digital signage – pioneered by the likes of Amazon’s newly opened physical stores - that is revolutionising the shopping experience, to the benefit of customers.
Today, going shopping is about much more than buying things. Shopping has become a fun day out, and shopping malls have become destinations. Retailers are responding in increasingly imaginative, creative ways: retailtainment – a term first coined in 1999 – is the future. Retailers surveyed by Adobe said that “engaging audiences through virtual or augmented reality” is the single most exciting prospect for 2020.
Today, projection mapping and interactive screens are widely deployed to create exciting, value-added retail experiences.
Digital signage software is now about so much more than just getting the right content to the right screen. Increasingly, retailers are using it to understand who their customers are and how they behave. AI-based solutions, for example, are claimed to be more than 90% accurate in detecting the age, gender and emotions of someone looking at the screen – enabling very precisely-targeted content to be delivered, and creating greater engagement.
To find out more about these top retail trends and transformational technology, view our guide and enter our immersive retail portal.