The winds of change

For some time now retailers have been battling against the harsh storms swept in via the internet, bringing with it unbeatable advantages such as convenience, personalisation, targeted ads and user monitoring. Brick and mortar stores have had to brace themselves, batten down the hatches and in the event of an inability to adapt and respond to such challenges, have fallen victim to the continued blustery onslaught. We have witnessed great losses on the high street — Blockbuster, Kodak and Woolworths to name a few — but with the help of technology and innovation, now is the time for the ‘Store’ to regain control, to defend themselves against the unrelenting weberly winds and build a technological fortress that they so desperately need in order to survive.
It is therefore no surprise that connectivity and consumer engagement are the latest uncompromising mandates defined by retailers, especially when discussing the on-going threat of online retail. Join us as we take a look at some of the latest technological solutions that can now rival an online assault of personalisation, shopper convenience and engagement, delivered in-store to the consumer through innovative technology such as iBeacon, RFID, Bluetooth low energy, and Serial Triggers in the hope of providing a state-of- the-art shopping experience.

A closer look at the gadgets:
iBeacon/Bluetooth Low Energy
Developed by Apple iBeacons are a class of Bluetooth Low Energy devices that broadcast their identifier to nearby portable devices such as smart phones and tablets when in close proximity.
Similar to Geopush or GPS the iBeacon uses proximity sensing to transmit a universally unique identifier tracked by a compatible app or OS and detects location to trigger location-based actions across hand-held devices. The iBeacon is favoured over GPS due to a reduced impact on battery life and extended precision. It can also be used to monitor location in proximity to the iBeacon transmitter in store, meaning that retailers can use it to push promotions and special offers to increase in store foot fall.
A recent article in Retail Technology describes the success of the technology in aiding the omni-channel experience, depicting an entire customer in-store journey of personalisation, responsiveness and interaction with the brand — an experience that can only be matched by shopping on the net.
However, the article does also point out the inherent trust required and the transparency that must exist between brands and consumers during the data exchange. Constant push notifications for some could also be regarded as unwanted and intrusive.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a type of tag or transponder and can be incorporated into just about anything, whether it be a phone, toy, product or a person. It transmits a radio signal which is received and located by a reader and can contain identifying information which is included on the tag and interpreted for specific purposes.
Integrating RFID with digital signage displays provide the perfect opportunity to advertise to an already captive audience. For example a bottle of perfume fitted with an RFID tag is picked up by a customer. The nearby reader detects this and instantly the perfume commercial begins to play out on the nearby screens. In addition to this, RFID allows retailers to better monitor stock levels, measure interest vs purchases and is also a great way of providing customers with detailed information about a product when sales staff and shop attendees aren’t available to do so.
For these reasons we feel that RFID’s real potential lies in the fact that it has the closest affiliation to the online world. With the ability to track, measure, monitor and disseminate information about products on screen it could be the true saviour of the high street.
Serial Ports technology used at WIND stores to trigger on-screen content.
Serial Triggers.
Similar to RFID but not as advanced is the Serial Port Monitor. Before RFID became more widely available we would integrate serial port technology into digital Point of Purchase (POP) displays to show content on a nearby screen when a product was lifted off the shelf by the customer. The major downsides in comparison to RFID technology is that merchandise cannot be tracked as efficiently in the same way and is also reliant on critical hardware, like a pressure pad, to detect the products being lifted off the shelf. However, it has proven to be a successful way of ‘closing the deal’ and assessing the popularity of products based on the number of times customers interact with them.
It wasn’t that long ago that retailers could only imagine ways of rivalling the online experience. Now, as technology continues to evolve and becomes more widely available, retailers no longer have to dream but can instead implement these technologies and stand a chance of fighting back, to deliver a responsive experience of personalisation, convenience, efficiency and automation.
Watch this space!
If you are interested in any of the technologies discussed and want more information about integration with your digital signage then get in touch.

Jaydev Bulsara