They call it the last three feet; I like to call it the moment of truth. It’s the instant when the shopper decides whether or not to put your product in their basket. It’s also what the In-Store Marketing Expo, held this week in Chicago, calls ‘shopper marketing‘ and it’s changing faster than many retailers would like to admit.
Wandering the exhibit hall, which can feel like sleepwalking through a Las Vegas casino without the constant ping of the slot machines, is to immerse your self in brash POP displays, custom counter-wraps, moulded plastic display stands, 360 degree spinning shopping-cart wheels and the like – the real nuts and bolts of retailing. But, pleasant as these distractions are, I’m here to check out what’s new in retail digital signage – and it’s quite a bit it seems.
There’s less foot-traffic than in years gone past, but I’m encouraged by some of the innovative thinking on show, in particular: –
- The ‘virtual barman ‘ from Digital Aisle (note this was one of DailyDOOH’s Best of 2008 ) is a popular attraction – serving virtual drinks only, unfortunately.
- San Francisco based Ecast’s booth feels like a club lounge and showcases their elegant, vertical interactive screens designed for the retail space (now piloted in Lowes home improvement stores, we hear).
- I’m also very engaged by Winntech’s innovative idea  for Zonic Electronics stores in Saudi Arabia – it’s a neat solution for an Islamic culture that craves new technology  but still has to adhere to some strict religious guidelines
- Not quite so elaborate but incredibly simple are the digital screens offered by Promotion Retail – in essence, digital photo frames for the retail environment. I can see these working extremely well in smaller retailers – they’re robust, easy to maintain, play full video content and look good (with the right creative, of course)
On the seminars front, slim pickings on the digital side of things save a very well attended presentation by Catapult Marketing ’s Peter Cloutier and Jason Katz. These guys get the 360 digital marketing concept – surround the customer from on-line to the check-out line. Jason made a great point that digital shopper marketing is not just about creating a sticky web page any more. Retailers need to think bigger, develop mobile coupons, mobile web-sites, form brand alliances with vendors that have great content and then converge it all in the store with digital screens to help close the sale. Can’t argue with that.
So, who’s next? That was the question on my mind as I took this all in. Which retailer is brave enough to invest in a full in-store network in this economy? Walmart’s leading the way with the Smart Network, but no one else seems eager to follow in their giant footsteps right now. The Smart Network’s been running for a year and advertisers have been eagerly awaiting the results.
I attended the grand unveiling with DSIQ, Walmart and Coca Cola in an afternoon session – the results, they promise, are phenomenal. And we’ll bring them to you first, right here on the DailyDOOH, later today.