Retail is rapidly morphing from a trade to a tailored, targeted technology-driven art form. Where once we battled through the crowds to restock our wardrobe or buy auntie a birthday present, now we treat shopping as a full-on leisure experience. Otherwise we might as well stay home and shop online. In large measure it is AV technology that creates the magic and delivers the experience.
“The retail market is demanding an ever bigger, brighter and more immersive presence from technology,” says Jenny Hicks, group head of technology at Midwich. “Large display canvasses, high brightness and customer interactivity are today’s demands – even if they simply attract consumers away from looking at the window display of the shop next door.”
The majority of AV going into retail locations consists of digital signage, and retail accounts for half of all signage sales. “Digital signage has been proven to improve sales, increase advertising and marketing opportunities in store compared with printed materials, and offer wayfinding to specific departments,” says Hicks. “But we also now see AV offering virtual tills, with interactive podiums becoming a more common order-and-pay point in store.”
There is investment pretty much across the board. “The major adopters are still the fashion retailers and fast food providers, but AV is being installed across all retailers where printed marketing was previously present,” says Hicks. “Technology adoption seems more dependent on the culture of a brand or its desired user experience. Retailers may want anything from simple, impactful advertising to an immersive and interactive journey through their store.
“We’ve reached an exciting point where the early adopters are already upgrading and refreshing their technology, and yet virgin opportunities still exist in high numbers. I can’t think of a bricks and mortar retailer who wouldn’t benefit from digital signage or other AV in store.”
Early adopters are coming back for more long before their initial investment reaches its sell-by date. “It’s less the technology becoming outdated and demanding refresh than stores needing to entice the consumer in and away from online shopping,” says Hicks. “Retail stores are becoming more like experience centres, with the customer journey the key to achieving brand loyalty. To stay on trend and maintain customer interest we see major retailers performing complete store refurbishments every three to five years.”
Over the next year or two Midwich expects to see burgeoning demand for technology that enables tailored and targeted advertising and experiences. “Whether that’s beacon technology responding to a consumer’s internet browsing history, or age and gender recognition to adjust content playlists to make them more relevant, most retailers are aiming for a personalized experience,” says Hicks. “Transparent and mirror display technology will also become more and more in demand to make use of valuable advertising spaces in changing rooms and at the store front.”
Midwich carries many of the biggest brand names in the retrial space, as well as some of the niche vendors who make possible the interactive experiences that retailers increasingly demand.
“Our technical and specialist teams can offer project support from design through to project support from design through to project management and system training, but our real strength lies in experience,” says Hicks. “We’ve worked with some major retail brands on global roll ours and future store designs and pilots, so our ideas bank is as full of concepts as our warehouse is full of tried and tested technologies.”
To ensure Midwich is underpinning its message, ‘Our Expertise is your Advantage’, the Midwich technical team have completed or are undergoing an industry qualification from the audiovisual trade body AVIXA.
“We’ve invested to ensure our team are CTS (Certified Technology Specialists), demonstrating their ability to create, operate and service AV solutions for our resellers and end users,” says Midwich’s technical director, Jon Dew-Stanley. “Individuals who hold this qualification adhere to the CTS Code of Ethics and Conduct and maintain their status through continued education. Certification demonstrates commitment to professional growth in the audiovisual industry and is strongly supported by AVIXA and Midwich.”
This article is from our AV Magazine Retail Special. Visit our Marketing Hub to view the whole supplement along with our other marketing materials, including guides and portals.