Touch screens and video walls, VR glasses and interactive mirrors: digital technologies for sales promotion can be found in ever more retail stores. Such tools make shopping at the POS both more informative and entertaining, help to avoid out-of-stock situations and seamlessly link offline with online retail. At EuroCIS 2018 in Düsseldorf the exhibitors will present the latest solutions.
To retail decision-makers the Omnichannel theme – linking physical with digital sales channels – is the most important technology trend for the coming three years. This is the result of the EHI study “IT-Trends in Retail 2017”. Projects for implementing an Omnichannel strategy are a top priority at one in two retail companies. Ranking second as the most important trend stated by 34% is the digital store, closely followed by digital transformation in the third place.
Key: Creating the basis with a seamless IT-structure
What this means is a general reorganisation of IT. More specifically, only the most seamless IT infrastructure and consistently designed MIS and CRM systems lay the foundation for forward-looking services. This is the prerequisite for implementing online product availability analysis, for example. This feature provides reliable information – before shoppers hit the road – as to whether a desired article is in stock or not at the bricks-and-mortar store. Even better when it allows consumers to reserve the product securing against third-party access.
Speaking of in-stock articles: terminals for in-store orders (alternatively Tablets that sales assistants are equipped with) are currently making inroads on more and more retail areas. This way shelves are changed digitally. Out-of-stock merchandise, additional colours and types of articles or rarely requested special products are re-ordered from suppliers with the help of these tools. Shoppers should no longer be sent home with the reply “Sorry, no we don’t stock this” where they then probably cover their demand from (online) competitors. In view of the multitude of systems on the horizon – numerous brands/manufacturers are creating their own implementations with IT partners – retailers are already now calling for uniform standards; and they are being heard: the first retail-specific, cross-supplier solutions are available.
Proving a success at the POS are terminal and Kiosk systems that serve shoppers as a first point of contact for questions. Click & Collect Stations as well as digital screens and video walls. According to the “EHI-Ladenmonitor 2017” study, these two features are already being used by two thirds of the retailers surveyed. Add to this in-store TVs and the figure even exceeds 80%. The big benefit of digital signage is that retailers can tailor and flexibly adapt their in-store communication with a view to maximising its impact. Content can be controlled via a central digital platform and updated locally.
Scala, one of the leading suppliers of digital signage solutions quotes the results of its own study: digital presentations generate 89% more views and 65% greater attention among shoppers compared to analogue signage. Jürgen Behrens von Rautenfeld, board member at Online Software AG, stresses: “Digital technologies at the POS can positively surprise and emotionalise shoppers to a high degree. Large screens and customer displays at check-outs or in-store scales can deliver information and campaigns situatively. Digital assistants such as smartphones and speech systems ease shopping or enhance the customer experience.”
Augmented and virtual reality become real
At the coming EuroCIS Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will also receive new momentum preparing the ground for exciting applications, for shopping assistance, for instance. It will be possible to guide consumers through virtual but highly authentic-looking product worlds projected into space. A wide variety of product versions can be shown in a lifelike manner or in different surroundings. At the same time, AR and VR combine to generate the endless aisle: even the smallest retail area can house a virtual mega store.
Considering the sheer number of digital technologies for sales promotion retailers are also called upon to cherrypick the ones that suit them. EuroCIS provides the ideal overview for doing just this and doubles as a platform for in-depth dialogue. After all, consumers’ wishes (still) vary markedly – and above all depending on their age. The younger they are, the more open they are to digital solutions and the more often they even demand them. At the same time, there are still “pure offline” supporters. To manage this high-wire act retail chains will have to study their clientele even more thoroughly than before: What is their shopping behaviour across all stages of the customer journey? Which consumers must be addressed and how and what do target groups want? This is where we come full circle: technologies even help to answer these questions.
One thing is for sure: companies that reject digitalisation are quickly considered outdated. On the other hand: even though there are robots capable of taking stock, fetching shoes from the backroom and welcoming shoppers in a friendly manner, being addressed personally at the stores remains indispensable. Technology can make the POS more attractive and provide sales staff with multi-functional tools so they can optimise their service in direct contact with customers.
EuroCIS 2018 in Halls 9 and 10 of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre will be open to trade visitors daily from Tuesday, 24 February 2016 until Thursday, 1 March 2018, from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.