This article explores 3 reasons why digital screens for retail form an integral part of how we can safely manage shops throughout the pandemic.
COVID-19 represents a challenge in some regard for everyone. Its impact has caused catastrophic damage to families globally. Whilst much of the burden of responsibility for fighting and reducing the destruction of the virus rests heavily on the shoulders of human behaviour; the role of technology cannot be understated. Artificial intelligence, drones, and synthetic biology are just some examples of technologies being used in the effort against coronavirus. Digital screens for retail represent the level of investment in technology necessary to tackle coronavirus and modernise the shop floor.
1) Wayfinding Screens For Retail
It would be advisable to have screens in large shops for wayfinding even in the best of circumstances. Customers should find the shop easy to navigate, leave without frustration, and be likely to make a return visit. However, frustration is even more likely to set in with confusing one-way systems, social distancing measures, and potential movement of aisles in order to manage pinch points and busier parts of the shop. Digital signage smart entrances can even limit the number of people entering the store in the first place. This means shoppers will already have devoted time outside the shop, making them unlikely to wish to spend hours perusing the aisles.
Whilst these are all necessary measures to mitigate the risks of the virus, if not communicated properly they can do more harm than good. Should customers find themselves unable to locate the items they came into the shop for, they’ll ask a member of staff or traipse around the shop until they do, increasing contact points. Well placed signage that instructs customers to obey one-way systems, alerts them to any changes made around the store. Queue management is also crucial to the success of shops during these trying times.
Once the current situation passes, digital signage will continue to prove a worthwhile investment. The focus of retail will eventually shift away from getting customers to the products they need safely with little contact. Then digital signage may resume its role of keeping customers in store for longer. Customers spend up to 30% more time in-store due to digital signage. Signage can encourage browsing by displaying the range of products on offer, showing special promotions, or reinforcing certain brands. Wayfinding can even be used to direct footfall through areas of the shop customers are likely to make off-the-cuff purchases.
2) Public Health Messages
Digital signage is a proven effective method of communication for retail. Digital signage has long been used as a way of boosting sales and altering the customers’ experience. Sales are said to increase by up to 29.5% when digital signage is present. However, 2020 has spelled the need to communicate a different style of message in stores.
The array of public health messages throughout the pandemic ought to seep in the public’s sub-conscience. Messages such as ‘Wash your hands’, ‘Wear a mask’, or ‘Stay Alert’ need to be reiterated to the extent it feels like second-nature to action them. For messages to penetrate the public’s psyche to this degree, there must be constant reminders of their importance. This is where digital signage plays its part.
The reality of the virus is that the messages are always changing, so it is vital to have digital signage with software that allows shop owners to be as responsive as the urgency of the situation demands. Should developments unfold that require shoppers to change the amount that they socially distance, or whether they wear a face covering, shop owners should not have to take time to design and distribute strong and effective traditional print media.
Furthermore, digital signage software allows you to create playlists with a variety of messages. This can address the concern over whether public health messages would override the personality of the store. Personalised displays can be put into playlists, so a health message could be interspersed with an offer or promotion. Each display can be shown for as long or as short as favoured. Lastly, the amount of displays in a playlist is also entirely down to preference.
To reduce the amount we talk to one another, kiosks are a valuable inclusion in shops. A touch kiosk with accompanying hand sanitizer is a safer way to answer many of the queries shoppers may have. This could feature an FAQ page, means of purchasing from the shop, or even a live chat function through which a member of staff could talk with customers.
Utilising self-service technology has long been a feature in supermarkets. Could the global pandemic be the impetus for the rest of the retail sector to follow suit? Self-service technology would reduce the risk of transmission from customers to members of staff or vice-versa. However, it also reduces the risk of transmission in queues. 50% of people say they would use a self-checkout lane if there is a queue at the staffed lane. Ultimately, kiosks and self-service technology form part of a wider effort of store-digitalisation which in itself is part of the necessary adjustments to the shopping experience required to combat COVID-19.
Time to adjust?
As we begin to gain some semblance of normality, and the general public begins to be more haphazard with the way it organises. It is important for shop owners to implore their shoppers to carry on doing the things that will be conducive to their safety. The difficulty is that as the pandemic wears on, the messages become too diffuse. However, shop owners have the ability to communicate the core messages of safety, hygiene, and social distancing to their customers. Screens for retail allow for this, as well as maintaining order and efficiency within the shop.
Technology has allowed us to be reactive to the virus in a way never seen before. It is important, however that we use it, regardless of any future financial impacts. If a digital screen is the difference that allows businesses to open during a potential future peak, and allows the customer to feel comfortable enough to shop there, then it is definitely of value.