Innovation: Reshaping The World As We Know It
The doers. The thinkers. The makers. The creators. The architects. The disruptors. The inventors. The movers. The shakers. The builders. The triers. The achievers. The innovators.
Day in and day out, with ink, paper, and technology, printers breathe life into thoughts and ideas. But print is just one component of a much larger conversation. Brands and marketers are looking for ways to engage with consumers, measure the success of their projects, and provide experiences customers will remember.
Print providers need to be able to integrate new technologies into products and offer new services — because if you can’t, someone else will.
But what innovations should PSPs be investigating? Wide-Format Impressions has highlighted several that deserve a closer examination. These are just a few of the innovations PSPs can no longer afford to ignore. Technology is changing the way consumers and brands interact with one another and the world at large. That doesn’t make print any less relevant, it just requires a shift in thinking when it comes to how it integrates with the rest of a campaign. The shops who figure out the best ways to do that going forward will be the ones shaping the print world of the future, rather than the ones left to react after the fact.
Native OS Support for QR Codes
QR codes, despite having been around for decades, never became the revolutionary mobile marketing tool businesses and marketers had hoped for — until now. When Apple and Android smartphones added native support for QR code scanning in their OS, this allowed QR codes to be scanned on smartphones directly through the camera app. This addresses the major barrier for QR code use in Western markets.
Brands, agencies, and traditional marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize mobile barcodes as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life, and engaging with customers. This integration of offline, online, and mobile allows marketers to provide a holistic experience to their customers.
QR codes are also giving shoppers experiential choices. As reported in Printing Impressions, Nike’s flagship store in New York City, called House of Innovation, uses QR codes throughout the store to give NikePlus Members with the Nike app a truly unique experience. The Nike app features “Shop the Look” where customers can approach a store mannequin and scan a QR code (on a printed sign) that will bring up its entire outfit. From there, a shopper can decide to buy any of the pieces the mannequin is wearing or have the items sent to a fitting room. Shoppers receive a push notification telling them to head to a nearby fitting room when the items are ready. There they will find a sign with their name on it and the items they requested waiting inside.
Augmented Reality Enhances Print Campaigns
Digital technology has had a huge impact on how consumers consume media. What does this mean for the future of print? Augmented reality (AR) can create opportunities for print publicists and advertisers to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical.
Augmented reality creates interactive and engaging experiences that bring a product to life, straight from a print ad, poster, catalog, label, or any printed material.
For example, when promoting a new car, very little compares to offering consumers the chance to sit in it and take it for a test drive. But Porsche’s print campaign for the 718 in Outside Magazine invited readers to sit in the driver’s seat of its new car and explore 360 degrees of its interior, straight from scanning the print ad.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 73% of consumers use multiple channels when shopping. AR can strengthen print as a sales channel by letting consumers scan-to-purchase directly from the page.
Changing Grocery Store Shopping as We Know It
Shelf tags and shelf talkers are familiar signs in any grocery store. In aisle after aisle, these tags usually fade into the background of a shopping trip. However, two retailers —Kroger and Walmart — are testing new electronic shelf labels (ESLs) or digital shelf tags in several of their stores. While ESLs have been in retail since the late 90s, new technology and increased pressure to create new retail experiences have more companies testing them now.
The Kroger Technology team has developed a smart system, powered by Microsoft Azure and connected by IoT sensors, to transform two pilot stores located in Monroe, Ohio, and Redmond, Wash., respectively, near each company’s headquarters. By using Microsoft Azure to store and process the data generated in stores, near the smart shelves, and on Kroger’s app, the digital stores will introduce the latest generation of EDGE Shelf (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment), a shelving system that uses digital displays, instead of traditional paper tags, to indicate everything from prices and promotions to nutritional and dietary information. Using Microsoft Azure AI, EDGE Shelf will connect with Kroger’s “Scan, Bag, Go” system, creating a unique guided shopping experience for customers.
In addition, the EDGE Shelf will enable Kroger to generate new revenue by selling digital advertising space to consumer packaged goods brands. Using video analytics, personalized offers and advertisements can be presented based on customer demographics.
And as reported by the Path to Purchase Institute and in Talk Business & Politics, two stores near Walmart’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, consumers will be able to see a new iteration of ESLs that make price adjustments automatically as dictated by store management. One store is experimenting with e-Ink labels, positioned one-by-one along the shelf, while the other store is piloting a radiant LED-strip model that runs continuously from one end of the shelf to the other.
Targeting on the Run
While mobile marketing has been around for a while, the proliferation of smart devices has taken it to the next level. Geofencing offers the ability for companies to advertise specifically to potential customers within a certain geographic radius. Geofencing constructs a virtual boundary around a business location using a combination of technologies, including GPS, radio frequency identifiers, and beacon technology.
Depending on how a geofence is configured, it can prompt mobile push notifications, trigger text messages or alerts, send targeted advertisements on social media, allow tracking on vehicle fleets, disable certain technology, or deliver location-based marketing data.
Some businesses will set up geofences around their competition, so when a consumer approaches the boundary, they will get a push notification prompting them to visit the other establishment. A consumer might walk into a retail store and see a coupon pushed to their device. Or if a consumer downloads a grocery app, the app can register when the consumer drives by, prompting an alert or notification, trying to entice them to stop in.
There are some cautions with geofencing, however, especially when it comes to privacy with marketing. Massachusetts enacted a consumer protection law that objected to the use of location-based advertising. Also, the Attorney General blocked an ad campaign from Copley Advertising, which was hired by a Christian organization to set up a geofence around women’s health clinics that would target women in the waiting room or nearby with anti-abortion ads.
However, despite questions about security, geofencing doesn’t seem to be losing its popularity. According to a press release from MarketsandMarkets, the geofencing industry is expected to grow more than 27% by 2022, citing “technological advancements in use of spatial data and increasing applications in numerous industry verticals.”
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.