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Digital Posters & Other Underwhelming Uses of Digital in Retail

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Dec 01 2014, Posted by InReality

Is anyone doing in-store digital marketing well? Short answer—yes. Long answer—not many.

As more and more of our customers have gravitated towards using digital in retail, we’ve been in our fair share of meetings where we’ve had to advise that “digital for digital’s sake” is never a good idea. Why? Because once the use of digital and technology no longer enhances the customer experience in retail, and instead gets in the way, we’ve failed at delivering an experience that delights the customer.

Far too often, we’ve seen digital fail in retail. We’ve seen poorly designed digital screens replace printed posters, with little additional benefit to the consumer or even the brand. We’ve seen the use of QR codes and other trendy marketing solutions cause consumers to jump through too many hoops to be accepted. And, we’ve seen digital thrown loudly to the front of the experience and become so intrusive it destroys any other attempt to communicate with or motivate a consumer.

The Magic Mirror

During a recent business trip to London, I took time to visit Burberry’s flagship store to see their much discussed “Magic Mirror”, which promises to give consumers a unique in-store digital experience.

As I took a coat off the rack and walked over to the magic mirror, the screen changed to show high-resolution images of the garment in my hand. Was it magical? Not really. In fact, I wondered aloud why this digital screen was showing me pictures of the very garment I held in my hands—the garment I could easily touch, feel, see and otherwise study up close without the aid of this digital screen. It was not magical. It was not unique. Instead, it was a very expensive way to digitally show me the very garment I held in my hands.

In their defense, they did also try and upsell me with imagery of matching accessories to pair with the coat. I support there is benefit in this, but “magic” is not the term I would use to describe it.

The Promise of Digital in Retail

Digital signage, bluetooth low energy technologies, beacons, interactive digital displays and many other digital elements have great promise in retail, if done well. But, most of the thinking around digital today seems to relate to creating digital posters—screens that really provide little to no additional benefit over printed signage or posters of the past. It’s an expensive use of digital in retail. And it is failing today’s consumers.

In-store digital marketing is capable of so much more. With digital, it is possible to attract, educate, inform, guide product/service selection and empower the consumer to purchase. And, more and more digital should be used to assist the consumer with their buying decision by interacting with the smartphone or tablet the consumer brings into the store. The technology is capable, but most retailers have failed to make the investment required to bring it to life, or the agencies guiding them have failed to really understand the desired consumer interaction and consumer experience required to bring brands to life using digital.

Digital for digital’s sake, or a rush to deploy digital screens everywhere is poor spend of marketing effort, time, resources and budget. Digital done poorly is a really expensive print or poster job. Digital done well can and will engage the consumer in a way that works and even wows, and provides an in-store experience that cannot be duplicated when shopping online.

Image Credit: Daniil Peshkov/123RF.COM

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