“Organizations that can quickly reimagine their omnichannel approach to create a distinctive customer experience will recover faster from the pandemic.” – McKinsey & Company, Adapting to the next normal in retail: The customer experience imperative
In recent months, the retail industry has been hearing from industry experts how the need for organizations to adopt an omnichannel strategy is no longer a nice-to-have, but now a must due to COVID-19. Almost overnight, the pandemic created a new customer mentality; in EY’s report Future Consumer Index: How COVID-19 is changing consumer behaviors, 45% of respondents around the world said that they plan to change the way they shop over the coming year due to health concerns arising from COVID-19.
Omnichannel retailers and online-first retailers have adapted easier to the rapid shift in consumer behavior, but for physical stores that depend on location, foot traffic, and in-store engagement, major challenges lie ahead. As the post-covid customer moves through omnichannel shopping now more than ever (e.g. browsing online, then completing the purchase offline, or the other way around multiple times over), the need for retailers to start incorporating an omnichannel strategy is now accelerated.
An omnichannel strategy doesn’t mean a complete overhaul of a retailer’s current system, but technological integration to elevate marketing strategies already in place. Here’s how smart digital signage, as a light-touch solution, can help retailers introduce an omnichannel strategy.
Bringing offline online with in-store audience analytics
Smart digital screens are like traditional digital screens, except that they target customers in real-time with in-store advertising of content specific to their demographics. Enabled by visual sensors, smart digital signage can detect (never identifying) customers’ age and gender, as well as their position in space, walking path, and attention span time to trigger targeted content. Smart digital screens also uncover customer behavior directly at the point of sales in a place that is typically regarded as a blind spot for retailers. For example, if a grocery retailer wanted to display on a screen a yogurt ad to Gen X women (ages 41-55), and they found that this demographic, as well as millennial women (aged 26-40) also looked at the ad on the screen, the retailer can link these in-store findings with their digital platforms (e.g. email marketing or suggested products in existing online channels) to push sales. Rather than treating digital and in-store strategies separately, in-store audience analytics can also drive engagement and sales online for a true omnichannel experience.
Optimize foot traffic conversions
With less foot traffic per square meter in stores, the rate of in-store conversion, as well as the need for a better customer experience, needs to be optimized. In-store staff can certainly help customers find products, suggest new ones, and “save the sale” of customers just browsing – but physical stores can no longer rely solely on face-to-face engagement to take customers to the end of their buying journey. Advertima Smart Signage triggers content set to a target-specific demographic whenever they walk by a screen, proven to increase customer engagement by up to 4x more without the need for a sales associate. In the case of global retailer SPAR, in-store advertising via Advertima Smart Signage increased sales by an average of 10.5% across advertised products when compared to traditional digital signage.
A better customer experience
An omnichannel strategy offers a holistic shopping experience for the customer. Now more than ever, customers are dipping in and out of online and in-store shopping to make their purchasing decisions. From the point of conversion, customers go through several touchpoints: in-store advertising via traditional digital screens in store, social media ads, friend recommendations, an email with a newsletter signup discount, to touching the actual, physical product itself. Because smart digital signage can “sense” people in the real world, it is not only a highly targeted touchpoint in the omnichannel buying journey, but a key component in understanding how customers behave and shop in-store. With these in-store audience analytics, online and offline strategies are bridged together, where the data discovered in-store can be optimized with digital platforms.
Customers are the heart of technological change, and the retail industry is no exception. With “the new normal” arrives a new customer – one that is shopping in between online and offline – thus redefining the customer journey. To keep up, retailers will need to adopt an omnichannel strategy – and quickly.