Retailers to target in-store adverts by gender and age?
Many retailers around the
world are hoping to win back lost market share by making their
customers’ shopping experiences a little more meaningful – and even
theatrical – with emphasis placed on the sensuous elements of an
in-store shopping trip, according to a report from Datamonitor.
As the growth in multichannel and discount retailing grows,
retailers are turning to technology to refine the in-store experience,
and retain market share. But these technologies bring with them a
variety of challenges for vendors and retailers alike, in terms of
integration and standardisation, and also in terms of achieving the
maximum ROI. fabrams This article is copyright 2007 TheWiseMarketer.com).
The next stage in customer retention
The report, entitled ‘Shop X: Where’s the store heading?’
suggests that the next step in the battle to retain customers is to
streamline the buying experience, bringing it more in line with
internet shopping in terms of ease and speed of transaction.
Datamonitor believes that new technology will shortly enable digital
signage screens (suitably equipped with image capturing hardware and
image processing software) to guess the sex and approximate age range
of customers looking at the screen, as well as to differentiate between
individuals and groups. In this next stage of development, screens may
also be able to log when people point at a particular product on a
shelf and then display more appropriate adverts and offers on the
Proximity sensing systems
As well as incorporating increasingly sophisticated display functions,
proximity sensors can already enable these systems to determine when
someone is nearby. When the system receives notification that a shopper
is within a certain distance range, the screen’s sound level can
increase accordingly, and then decrease again when they leave the area.
To help reduce noise pollution in the store environment, these sounds
can be even made relatively directional, targeting only the area where
shoppers are actually standing.
Tests carried out to-date on in-store digital signage systems have
showed them to be an effective method of advertising, leading to
increased spending and elevated brand awareness. And although the cost
of installing and maintaining a digital signage system is significant,
the authors of the report believe that the benefits of deployment are
likely to make it worth investing in, for larger retailers at least.
Technology reduces ‘ad fatigue’
Given the commonly quoted statistic that the average consumer is
targeted with approximately 3,000 messages per day, retailers are
keenly seeking to differentiate products through any medium more
engaging than static signposting and traditional television screens.
Digital signage, the report concludes, offers retailers a good means of
doing exactly that.
The report also found that near field communication (NFC), in itself
an off-shoot of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, can
also help remove the need for physical touch and contact. In retail,
NFC technology is already being used for contactless payments such as
Visa PayWave and MasterCard PayPass, among others. Consumers and
merchants both benefit from this technology because transaction times
are faster, and research has shown that in some circumstances consumers
also tend to spend more when paying contactlessly.
The rise of the NFC mobile phone
Of course the inevitable growth of NFC technology in consumer markets
means that the mobile phone is set to become an important tool for
retailers, due mainly to its capability as a fast and relatively secure
payment device – particularly when the handset is NFC-enabled at the
But retailers have another opportunity that arises as a result of
NFC’s growing popularity among consumers. NFC or Bluetooth enabled
mobile phones can also become a means of direct marketing to consumers
in-store. If consumers are encouraged to use their mobile devices for
NFC payments, the report suggests, retailers will then have an
opportunity to establish more of a personal relationship if they use a
consumer’s mobile handset to deliver well-focused and relevant adverts
and promotions. Better still, this can be achieved in real time just
before the point of purchase decision – while the customer is still
standing in the store.
According to the report, the point of sale (POS) is also an important
battleground for retailers because it represents the last chance in a
shopping visit to increase sales, advertise to a captive audience, and
reinforce brand values.
Within the POS industry, self-check out is one of the technologies
currently garnering the most interest. The technology is popular due to
its ability to cut checkout times, with a single attendant being
capable of overseeing up to six terminals. It also appears to enjoy
favour with consumers so far, with a study in Woolworths’ Big W stores
in France last year reporting 25% of customers choosing the self
service option. Other grocery stores that have conducted similar tests
have reporting anything between 20% and 50% of their daily transactions
being processed via self service check-outs.