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Comment: Investing in in-store technology will pay dividends says Darren Jackson of APS Group

Thanks to digital technologies today’s consumers are more empowered and more connected than ever before.

They want everything at once. They want the perfect navigation of the digital and the physical – the broad selection of products, offers and information, that comes with online, as well as personal service and the immersive, engaging shopping experience, which can be found in store.

Recent research from RetailMeNot, operator of VoucherCodes.co.uk, shows that 86% of shoppers move between multiple channels during the path to purchase. They use online to gather research on the products they wish to buy, compare prices across various stores, check availability and determine brand trust. In many cases the consumer has made their purchase decision before they have even set foot in a store.

Connected consumers are changing our traditional notions of POS, which is continually evolving in order to keep up with the demands of a digitally driven world. This being so, more than a third of retailers are ramping up their digital investments in a bid to boost customer engagement, loyalty and drive in-store sales.

At APS Group we carried out a recent survey which looked at the power of digital among consumers. We found that 77% of shoppers engaged more with animated digital displays in-store than they did with traditional print displays. We were able to show how on screen messages can be adopted to deliver tailored messages and personalised offers. Coupled with beacon technologies, which can leverage the mobile consumer, such offers can be sent straight to the consumer’s pocket – which makes digital a powerful tool to help drive short term sales in-store.

The use of beacon and location-based technologies can also allow retailers to track their shopper’s movements while in-store, much as online analytics track consumers’ web searches, in order to identify re-sale opportunities.

Additionally, digital technologies are helping drive the concept of an endless aisle. RFID adoption at the shelf level can help drive supply chain visibility and offer real time information on stock availability. It can even be used with mobile technologies to enable customers to compare prices and give retailers the option of price matching, ensuring they secure that all important final sale.

Tills themselves are transforming in a digital world. The traditional image of the cashier’s till is gone, replaced with self-service checkouts and, thanks to kindle technologies, mobile tills which allow consumers to check out purchases from anywhere in store.

Thanks to digital, the entire shopping experience is becoming more experiential, allowing retailers to develop new and engaging ways to interact with customers in store and connect the online world with the physical. This could be interactive selfie walls, video screens or virtual technologies which allow consumers to showroom endless purchase possibilities. Dubbed ‘retailtainment’ this kind of digitally driven POS helps create a visual and stimulating in store environment which engages the consumer, without pushing the hard sell – creating an experience which lasts beyond the store walls.

With the amount of touch points now available to customers, those retailers which will thrive will be those that invest in new technologies to supplement their existing POS. Emerging digital technologies have the ability to help retailers deliver new services and personalised messages, which enhance the in store experience, drive sales and contribute to the creation of customer loyalty.

Darren Jackson is director of Retail Solutions at marketing and communications agency APS Group. The company will be exhibiting on stand K40 at Retail Design Expo 2017

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