How Digital Marketing Boosts Retail Sales

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Interesting article written yesterday and posted today in South Africa on How Digital Marketing Boosts Retail Sales

Speaking at the recent Marketing-at-Retail Workshop in Johannesburg, One Digital Media CEO Mike Bosman illustrated why digital media at retail is becoming a force to be reckoned with in South Africa’s retail marketing arena.

According to independent research conducted recently on 22 brands, brands stand out 33% more when the particular brand advertises on screen.

The research also shows that awareness of the screen by the shopper appears to convert into a 29.6% increase in sales made.

Over 5000 screens

In the past year, One Digital Media has driven the roll-out of a first-of-its-kind digital network – with over 5000 screens installed in hundreds of supermarkets, shebeens, liquor stores and other outlets country-wide, and the system is working with 98% compliance.

Many of the installations have been in Spar stores and are able to run up to 45 screens and 45 channels per store – and the impact of the content that’s been broadcast is reported to be a considerable 9.6% average increase in sales for the brands that advertised using the digital media infrastructure, content development and delivery mechanisms that One Digital Media has pioneered.

Content is flighted to any one particular screen in the network around South Africa or to any group of screens. In-store digital networks typically do not flight TV commercials as the screens do not broadcast sound and shoppers do not hang around for 30 seconds watching the screens. Content is very short and the placement and positioning of the screens in the store is critically important to their effectiveness.

Content is also tailored and flighted in different locations – for example, on Mother’s Day in Ermelo, you may want to run a different promotion on-screen to the promotion you will be running in your stores in Sandton City.

Widespread in other countries

While advertising on screens in stores and other public areas is a relatively new concept in South Africa, the use of digital media in retail environments is widespread in many other countries around the world.

Walmart reportedly reaches over 400 million consumers per month through the digital media network installed in its 3150 stores in the US. Other retailers to use digital media internationally include Harrods, Tesco’s, Circuit City, Cost Co and many others.

In China, Focus Media has placed over 190 000 screens in lobbies and lifts. In Europe, an estimated 12 million consumers are reached per week via digital signage.

The medium is suitable for all kinds of retail environments – shops, pubs, airports, taxis, buses, in motor car dealer showrooms, in banks and so on. Research shows that digital media also reduces perceived waiting time – an important consideration at tills in supermarkets and in banks

“The beauty of this medium,” said Bosman, “is that the retailers and brands can be sure the content they want flighted, is actually flighted. The screens feed back information to the control centres on what content was flighted and when. This information can then be compared to till scanner data to see the effect on sales”, he continued. “In the event of technical problems, the central control centres will immediately pick up the problem and it will be fixed.”

Purpose-built screens

Bosman explained that the screens typically used are TV screens, computer monitors or purpose-built screens. If the screens do not need to show TV channels or have speakers, then it is better not to use TVs as they can usually be switched off by competitors, managers or shoppers. TVs also require licences to be paid, need to be switched on each day and after power outages, and can easily be stolen.

On the same note, computer monitors typically have licencing fees to be paid for software used, can also be switched off and rebooted, and can be stolen.

Purpose-built screens characteristically do not have speakers or TV receivers, have no ‘on/off’ switches as they shut down remotely each night and switch on automatically after load-shedding or a power outage.

It appears that the world’s largest networks are using open source software and purpose-built screens.

By 2011, Forresters are estimating that 90% of all retailers in the US will have digital media of some sort.

“We’re seeing amazingly innovative stuff being developed internationally. Soon virtual 3D shop windows, curved screens and many other techniques will be used in store to enhance the shopping environment,” Bosman concluded.

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