The local store is evolving. As retailers rally to prove their value to shoppers, stores are re-emerging as hubs for local communities. And one of the most effective methods of retail experience differentiation is the use of relevant, targeted, vibrant infotainment content to keep shoppers engaged.
Since the rise of ecommerce in the late 1990s and early 2000s, market analysts have predicted the demise of brick-and-mortar stores. After all, why travel all the way to a non-virtual store, subject yourself to long lines and a painful checkout process, only to cart all your goods back home?
Your morning shopping expedition to a physical store can be replaced by an online shop using your mobile device in half an hour on your sofa with a cup of coffee. Checkout takes about five minutes and your purchases are delivered to you at your convenience.
Opportunities for better in-store retail experiences
Fortunately for shop owners, it isn’t that simple. Those early market analysts overestimated how willing shoppers would be to simply order everything online. To begin with, few online retailers can wholly fill your every need. What it also means is that there is pressure on shop owners to dramatically improve the in-store retail experience, so as to persuade online shopping enthusiasts to return to their local stores instead.
This continuing trend gives store marketers a major opportunity to appeal to more audience members, by addressing customers’ concerns about their retail experiences. For instance, customers detest waiting in checkout lines. It takes too long, and as any parent with impatient children can attest, it can be emotionally challenging.
Beyond alleviating pain points, shop owners can take cues from online shopping sites and offer information that will add value and entertainment to the in-store retail experience, enhancing various aspects of the shopping experience. I’ll explore more about these options below.
Mass-market signboards, in-store posters and noticeboards are morphing into smart, digital communication channels. This new generation of digital out-of-home (“OOH”) media is increasingly enriched by a wealth of data insights and is emerging as a compelling source of relevant content and offers for shoppers.
Two factors are driving this revolution: hyperlocal data and innovative tracking solutions. Together, they empower local stores to customize a variety of content types, delivered to shoppers in aisles and checkout points using smart screens.
The result is increasingly relevant and useful content that keeps consumers engaged, satisfied and, perhaps most importantly, spending more in-store.
More relevant content for more engaged shoppers
The key to the success of in-store infotainment is content that’s optimized to be relevant, useful and even entertaining. SMB leaders who manage local stores know their customers best. They know:
- who they are
- what they shop for and when
- what interests them most
Intent signals, geo-location and content trends are important signals that help inform ad and content choices based on what is most relevant and engaging.
The end goal is to increase consumer engagement through better in-store shopping experiences, thereby boosting store revenues. It seems to be working. Today’s networked in-store ad screens allow retailers to leverage multiple data types.
Consider a store that tracks when its customers shop and, using optical tracking technologies, can identify basic demographic data too. Because the store’s location is static, it’s easy to share local weather forecasts, community events and in-store specials to keep shoppers better engaged and informed. When the shop owner adds sales data and customer recommendations that it crowdsources, the store can even make product recommendations and make helpful product-relevant suggestions, such as recipes.
This data is valuable to store management in ways that extent well beyond optimizing the content displayed on video screens. Shopping habits, attention patterns and foot traffic data also help inform when to run special offers and sales; how to best optimize staffing levels depending on busy and quiet periods as well as other benefits that are realized over time.
It is possible to collect very specific and detailed consumer data but stores need to remain mindful of consumers’ privacy concerns. Still, stores can collect and leverage sufficiently anonymized data to respect shoppers’ privacy while, at the same time, delivering highly relevant and engaging infotainment content.
Smart screens as engaging delivery platforms
Dynamic video screens are proving to be far more effective than more traditional ad formats and point-of-sale displays. Citing a report by Millward Brown, a recent VentureBeat article noted that shoppers tend to be most interested in seeing video content that relates to:
- Sales (76% of respondents)
- Weather (75%)
- Upcoming in-store events (69%)
- New in-store services (65%)
- Local community events (64%)
- Recipe ideas (63%)
Delivering a variety of infotainment content, even better targeted and more relevant offers, has enormous benefits for shoppers’ in-store retail experience. The Millward Brown study found that:
- 70.2% of customers said they would watch screens while in the checkout line
- 35% say screens reduced perceived wait time at checkout
- 84% said watching content on screens helped the time spent in checkout lines pass quicker
- 85% said screens elsewhere in the store were pleasant and entertaining
- 78% said the screens caught their attention
- 70% said content was useful
The perfect way to deliver infotainment content to shoppers is a selection of smart screens that are strategically placed throughout a store. Optimal smart screen placements, coupled with more relevant content and more useful offers, will likely improve shoppers’ perceptions of the value of this medium, particularly as more accurate data becomes available – and, in turn, cultivate positive sentiment towards the store brand.
Gathering valuable insights
Indeed, one of the most impactful benefits of location-based video screens is the ability to gather accurate data to inform the infotainment content mix on in-store screens. Eye-tracking and attention-tracking technologies embedded in smart screens reveal which video clips garner the most attention.
For example, Impax Media’s in-retail solution can track when shoppers are paying attention and for how long. Its smart screens employ eye-tracking technologies and can identify when a customer’s face is turned towards the screen, as opposed to simply glancing in the general direction of the displays. What’s more, the company’s “Tru-View” tech avoids any privacy concerns by tracking viewer attention only – no identity-specific data is collected whatsoever.
Many tracking technologies also identify customer demographics to better target offers presented on the screens to more engaged shoppers.
This ability to more effectively track when customers are paying attention has reinvigorated media buying, because advertisers can monitor the actual engagement impact of their ads rather than relying on a series of flawed assumptions and estimate-based performance metrics.
Greater relevance is the key to higher in-retail engagement
Targeted video content selection can go a long way towards delivering a combination of highly relevant and more engaging experiences and offers to consumers. Smart screens may be the perfect solution to capture shoppers’ attention at the right time. According to Mediapost, “Nearly a quarter of American consumers research and engage on social media, or purchase a brand within half an hour of exposure to OOH advertising.”
Smart in-store advertising solutions clearly hold the key to revitalizing local stores and entrenching them as destinations for more engaged and loyal local communities.