How In-Store Signage Technology is Improving
Across the board, numerous studies and surveys have all found the same situation: consumers want more interactive, personalized experiences when they visit a retail store, but brands, by and large, are disappointing them. In this modern era, the definition of shopping has changed. Consumers can use a wide range of technologies to order goods — some without the need to even look at a screen — so it is becoming more important than ever before for brick-and-mortar locations to provide a solid reason to walk through the doors.
In-store technologies are one way retail brands can change that. The “2019 Consumer Retail Technology Survey” from A.T. Kearney found that three out of four consumers are aware of at least some of the modern targeted retail technologies available today, but only one in three have experienced even one of them. Those technologies include:
Mobile point-of-sale stations, which allow consumers to complete a transaction on their mobile device instead of at a traditional cash register.
Checkout experiences without cashiers, where items are automatically charged to a customer’s account as they walk through the door, without any need for them to manually interact with either a register, an application, or employee.
Interactive screens that provide the ability to scan barcodes to get more information about products, beyond just a price check.
3D printing is the ultimate personalization tool, allowing brands to produce unique, one-off items for every single customer, on site, while they wait.
JRNI’s “Third Annual Modern Consumer Research Report” found that 67% of consumers enjoy the retail experience for things like the speed of access to the product, and the ability to get more information immediately and easily. However, the same study found that only 44% of those same consumers believe those brands are currently doing a good job of explaining their in-store products and services to a satisfactory level.
And it’s not just the “big box” stores that consumers expect these technologies and experiences from, either. In the past, A.T. Kearney’s study found just 24% of consumers experienced cutting-edge technology in their retail shopping experience in a specialty store, versus 45% having that experience in the large, multi-national brands. Going forward, however, 58% of consumers expect to find that technology at their local small brands — a 140% increase — versus 69% expecting it at the large brands. While it is still more expected in the larger outlets than smaller stores, the expectation is rapidly catching up, and all retail locations, not just the large ones, will struggle to retain customers if they don’t start embracing the high-tech experiences consumers demand.
This combination of the need for more advanced technology in a retail space, with a need for clearer, more informative signage and information, is where wide-format printers step in.
The Convergence of Print and Digital
There are a lot of industry buzzwords floating around, and it is easy to dismiss them as fads or trends that will fall by the wayside. But one that shouldn’t be discounted out of hand by any shop looking to serve the retail vertical is “marketing services provider.”
The reality is that while many retail brands are aware of new technologies and how they work, many don’t have the expertise to truly understand how to integrate it into a seamless experience. They might have a high-tech solution in one section of the store, completely cut off from everything else. Or perhaps the technology is there, but it’s not well explained, leading to more confusion and time spent by consumers than if they had just stood in a line the way it’s always been done.
Wide-format printers can be the bridge to help retail locations bring it all together. Becoming a central hub for unified brand storytelling that brings everything together and allows the retail store to go back to what it does best — selling products — takes advantage of everyone’s greatest strengths.
Digiday’s “The State of Brand Storytelling” study found that retail locations are desperate not just for technology or better signage, but for a complete solution to help them better communicate their story. That study found that:
84% of brands said that having an established process and workflow for the creation and delivery of brand storytelling components is important.
Meanwhile, 80% also noted that they believe their brand storytelling can be improved.
Three-quarters of respondents agreed that tools and software for content management and review are critical to this process, but, more than half — 55% — said that new content and asset management tools would improve those processes.
Print shops have been managing assets for years, with dedicated tools that not only tie into the presses, but also into the digital world as well. Today’s tools allow print shops to take a single asset and use it across channels seamlessly, while tracking which components and messages worked — and which didn’t — across every channel.
Retail brands need partners to help them better navigate the changing landscape, and wide-format printers are positioned to fill that role. Being able to step in and offer solutions that integrate cutting-edge technology across the experience with clear, concise messaging that makes it fun and easy to use for consumers is a win for everyone. And having all the data from every interaction — be it via a touchscreen in the store, a mobile device, a printed sign, or a unique experience — in one place, with suggestions for how to tweak messages and improve ROI will create a powerful partnership that will make it difficult for brands to walk away to find a new printer, even if someone shows up offering to do the job for a few cents less.
In-store technology is rapidly changing the retail landscape. Customers expect more than just a few shelves with products — they want integrated experiences that follow them seamlessly from in-store to online and back again, and they want brands to treat them as individuals, not as a broad group. Technology is making that possible, but print will still be needed to bring it together and make it relatable and usable. For wide-format printers, the evolving in-store technology landscape means new and innovative opportunities to shine.