Among the many changes produced by the pandemic, one of the most significant in the retail world was undoubtedly the one related to the shifting purchasing behaviours which have outlined an increasingly demanding, nomadic and digital customer, very attentive to the quality of services, products, brand values and, above all, sustainability.
In this new scenario, digital and physical are closely connected and work together in winning and retaining customers, making it therefore indispensable to also rely on digital tools and visual media capable of attracting attention and entertaining people, such as the support of digital signage.
But let’s proceed by degrees.
The most striking example of this acceleration towards digital technology is what happened in the large-scale retail trade, which has seen the demand for digital platforms skyrocket, often forcing brands to take remedial actions for implementing their infrastructures related to e-commerce and their home delivery network. However, supermarket aisles remained crowded and sales at brick-and-mortar stores held up.
WHAT HAS CHANGED THEN?
The expectations that customers place on the point of sale have changed, making it no longer the only favoured channel for purchases. People today visit a store to enjoy an experience above and beyond merely purchasing the product, as they expect to be entertained, guided and understood in the purchasing process. The preferred brands have become those able to support consumers during the exploratory stage of their purchase path and in the evaluation of the available options, responding dynamically to their changing needs and proposing a narrow band of information in line with their needs and whose message must be clear, concise and engaging.
Emotions play therefore a fundamental role in the cat-and-mouse game between shoppers and retailers, and brands must show a high level of empathy and attention in order to increase engagement. Listening, however, is only one part of this relationship building process. The other, just as important, is to demonstrate how the ability to listen translates into a higher quality and relevance of communication and services.
To this need of the consumer to be conquered and understood is added the need for a customer journey that includes technological solutions that live up to his expectations. The long periods of lockdown have led people to use technology much more, and the consumers themselves expect companies to do the same. Almost 7 out of 10 Italians (68%) ask companies to boost their digital capabilities and transform themselves faster. 9 out of 10 consumers (89%) believe that companies need to accelerate on digital innovation and, lastly, more than half (54%) wants new products and services but also an enhancement of the engagement methodologies used by brands .
The connected consumer brings to light a new dimension of the digital customer experience and the response to this new frontier of the user experience passes through new ways of engagement based on contents developed from a storytelling which fulfils the demand of the consumer to be understood, amused and entertained through digital touchpoints capable of talking to his emotional side, making him live a highly technological experience.
A NEW ERA OF DIGITAL ADVERTISING
In this context finds place a tool with multiple functions and high emotional impact such as digital signage, one of the pillars of smart retail. From interactive in-store solutions to led walls, digital signage is a valid support for building an evolved, sensitive, interactive and engaging customer journey through a dynamic and personalized communication, capable of creating new strategies for advertising and developing new customer engagement techniques.
Dedicated areas within the store with touchscreens and cutting-edge technologies, such as proximity sensors and facial recognition, enable to build a new way of communicating with the customer and new ways of interaction and engagement between shopper and retailer to create a story in which the consumer can identify himself and have fun, while following a purchase path, both playful and entertaining, as well as necessary as that of shopping. Digital signage thus also becomes a support to the management of a schedule of contents and a valid marketing ally, allowing to create always new contents, adaptable to the customer’s tastes. It is a way of advertising that looks to the future of retail, which makes use of artificial intelligence and machine learning processes that allow to communicate directly with the customer, generating new stimuli and answers more in line with his needs, like a kind of futuristic version of the good old shop window.
 From the fourth edition of the Salesforce The State of the Connected Customer research on a panel of 12,000 respondents worldwide, including 650 Italians.