These days, people seamlessly switch between their phones, their computers, and local stores when making purchases and returns. Just think about all the websites and apps that now offer in-store, pickup, and shipping options, letting customers know whether an item is in stock or not. In this omni-channel world, customers expect to see digital ads in retail spaces frequently.
Retargeting ads remind customers of items they’ve viewed in the past. Banner ads and clever graphics call out promotions on retail websites. Digital advertising is already thriving online. But brick-and-mortar operations have a unique opportunity when it comes to digital ads in their retail spaces. By using in-store displays, they can influence customers who have their wallets open and shopping lists in hand. (Not to mention the direct revenue possibilities from turning an existing physical space, which already has foot traffic, into an advertising platform.)
At the center of in-person digital advertising is the customer experience. Technology that’s meant to drive revenue and build loyalty should always make things easier on the consumer.
For example, Amazon is now using a technology called Just Walk Out at select Whole Foods locations, with sensors and cameras allowing customers to skip the checkout line. The move was meant to alleviate pain points such as waiting in line before leaving the store. It’s a prime example of using technology to improve the customer experience. Digital displays can do the same.
In short, the chance to use digital displays to influence a customer at the point of purchase is a way to both improve the customer experience and increase revenue. Here’s how.
Use digital signage for content and advertising to improve your customer experience.
Digital signage has more than one use, so it’s wise to consider how a graphic display might be used in multiple ways to increase your revenue by improving your overall customer experience.
For example, screens are often used in healthcare, university, and dining settings for sharing content. At a chiropractic office, you might see a TV screen with someone explaining why chiropractic care is important. On a campus tour, you might see a screen with your name, welcoming you to campus, alongside a student success story. At a fast-food restaurant, you might see the menu on digital boards overhead, switching seamlessly from breakfast to all-day items.
All of these methods of sharing content can be used in retail spaces to make the customer experience smoother, easier, and less stressful. Accurate digital signage is good customer service, and good customer service breeds loyalty.
Digital ads blur the line between online and in-person retail space.
But using digital signage can also bring point-of-service decision-making to a new level. No longer do brands have to rely solely on packaging, promotions, and static signage to convince customers to choose their product. Dynamic advertising in the store can influence customers as they make their final purchase decisions.
Take Cooler Screens as an example. This digital media and merchandising technology replaces traditional grocery cooler doors with responsive smart screens. The screens can display ads that resolve into images of the items in the cooler. The displays are tied into the company’s proprietary platform that allow brands to place ads, highlight products, and review analytics. No longer do brands have to guess how customers respond to ads — with instantaneous feedback, brands can rapidly test and refine their offerings.
When customers move closer to the cooler doors, the screens change to show what’s behind the glass and in stock, as if the doors are transparent. Stores can use this information to manage inventory, capitalizing on analytics to keep the right products in stock and thus increase revenue. In pilot programs, Cooler Screens has seen sales increase 50-100 percent over stores that don’t have the screens installed. Advertised products sold two to ten times more than non-advertised products.
Digital signage should always enhance, not damage, the ability of the customer to get in and out of the store. And if the technology is especially innovative, it may cause hesitancy among some customers. One example would be the Amazon-Whole Foods technology mentioned above. Still, there are many examples of digital signage being used to increase sales, when executed in a way that makes things easier on shoppers.
Invest in video for digital displays.
For years, it seems like every state-of-the-media report has been crying out, “Video is king!”
YouTube, TikTok, Reels, and even Snapchat bear witness to the fact that consumers have an almost endless appetite for short, catchy videos. YouTube director Rion Austin encourages brands to use video on YouTube throughout the funnel to best influence consumers. It makes sense that an omni-channel approach should also include video throughout the funnel.
Here’s why. Research shows that full-motion creative on digital displays are 2.5 times more impactful than static displays, although both lead to positive emotional responses. Basically, if you want to invoke an emotion regarding your product, you should have digital displays in your retail spaces. If you want people to remember your product, show them a video on that digital display.
The type of video depends on the display context. For a waiting room or dressing room, a long-form ad or brand story might be appropriate for building affinity. For a checkout line or at the end of a store aisle, a six-second burst of visuals is an option. Even making a product appear to shimmer can catch a shopper’s eye.
Leverage digital displays for sales and loyalty programs.
If your customers are price-conscious, they’re likely comparison shopping, especially during a time of economic uncertainty.
Using digital displays to deliver pricing and sale information is an easy way to meet your customers’ needs. Cost per unit, digital coupon alerts, and manufacturer’s coupons can all be included in digital ads. Giving your customers access to digital coupons and referencing them with in-store ads helps connect the digital and physical retail space experience.
For better or worse, your promotion will often be competing with many other promotions. Black Friday, the Fourth of July, winter holidays—shouting above the noise is nearly impossible. So using digital displays at the point of purchase, where there’s limited real estate for ads, gives your promotion a chance to shine. The data you gather from digital ads can then drive inventory. It can also inform marketing decisions, including when and how to run promotions.
If you have a loyalty program, you can keep it relevant by using digital ads to drive sign-ups and give discounts at the retail space point of purchase. Remember that the customer experience must remain seamless. If you’re forcing someone to download an app in order to use a coupon or track their rewards, they may or may not complete the process. Use digital ads to convince customers that it’s worth their time to give you their information.
Create relationships with your customers via digital screens and personalization.
In-store digital advertising creates opportunities for brands to build relationships with their customers. Using technology to help customers navigate the store, for example, makes associates available for customers who have in-depth questions. Using screens to introduce associates at the store creates an atmosphere where everyone knows one another. Entertaining your shoppers makes the shopping experience more pleasant for everyone.
Content can rotate out at different times of day, showing customers you’re aware of their needs. For example, digital displays at a grocery store could play educational programming about various foods (using product placement) during after-school hours. This might be when parents are running errands with their kids.
You can personalize the shopping experience further with interactive displays. You could allow customers to scan their loyalty fob or enter their phone number for a list and locations of the products they’re most likely to buy. If your clothing store has a promotion going on, using a screen to show how the sale stacks with individual coupons would encourage purchases.
Develop your digital footprint outside your store.
In order to offer your customers an omni-channel shopping experience, you need a robust digital footprint. This means even small businesses need an SEO-optimized website and Google My Business profile, at the very least.
They should ideally have basic social media accounts, too. Millennials are the largest living population, and they expect to be able to order through your app or at least through a mobile-optimized website. They want to be able to pay digitally. They don’t want to wait.
By creating in-store deals that your customers can learn about online, you can get traffic in physical locations. By reminding customers of those deals with in-store digital ads, you can promote purchases. If you can provide reasons for in-store shopping, you can bolster your physical locations in an online world. Offering the best deals in person is one common approach that’s gaining steam.
It all works together. As you build your business and increase your customer base, you increase the views of your in-store digital ads. By doing so, you influence revenue. Take advantage of this next phase of advertising to make the most of your real estate.