Christmas 2013 saw mobile digital platforms take centre stage with increased ecommerce traffic from smartphones. With more people buying online, one would expect physical retail to adapt according to visitors new habits, whether this is in-store tech or returns.

Digital signage

As the chart below shows, 74% of the stores surveyed don’t use digital signage. Those that do use it chiefly to promote the brand and not products merchandised in-store, or any form of possible in-store interaction.

Digital media in-store

The majority of the 40 retailers that were visited use some form of digital in-store media.

However, platforms are used predominantly for display and with little interaction available between the viewer and the content.

Of the retailers assessed, 33% had some form of digital product signage, but only 25% were using interactive devices to communicate with their customers.

This chart shows the number of stores (of 40) using various forms of in-store digital media.

Interactive digital media

Unsurprisingly, most advanced support for mobile devices and most interaction was found in the technology retailers and departments.

This chart compares tech retailers to fashion retailers. Of course, for tech retailers the in-store interaction is with the products themselves, so this does undermine some of the figures.

Creating space

Again easier for a tech retailer with a relatively small product range, but Apple uses its interactive devices, Wi-Fi and charging stations to create a destination and preclude the need for stock piled high.

Of the stores assessed, only 28% used interactive media or order kiosks. These could be ways to save space in-store for fashion retailers and the like.

Wi-Fi in-store

Only nine of 40 retailers offered free Wi-Fi. Of these retailers, only two presented clear signage and joining instructions.

In nearly 10% of cases, customers could not connect to the Wi-Fi service in-store if one was available.

It was annoying that I had to sign up with Reiss emails to log into the Wi-Fi. I already receive email updates from them, so this seemed pointless.

Mobile engagement

Of the nine retailers offering free Wi-Fi, none sent a personal message. Three of the nine were promoting an app, but did not prompt Wi-Fi users to download it.

The apps that were promoted on in-store signage, when downloaded, didn’t offer information relevant to journey or location.

The researchers suggest shoppers had an unfulfilled appetite for Wi-Fi and social media engagement in-store.

(Topshop’s in-store instagram ‘Wish you were at Topshop’ postcard feature on an interactive device)

Customer view

It isn’t clear what the sample size is here, but the results seem consistent with the 40 stores surveyed.

How useful did you find the digital media in-store today?

  • 32% – Poor: the digital experience was of little value and did not help with the in-store experience.
  • 22% – Below Average: there was some digital engagement yet was only non-specific information.
  • 24% – Average: Experience felt like there was some supporting information delivered by digital.
  • 10% – Above Average: The in-store experience was supported by specific engaging information, with product placements being delivered by some digital media in various places.
  • 12% – Excellent: The entire in-store experience was supported from beginning to end with the support of digital in-store media, which was fully interactive and informative. 

Only four out of 41 retailers’ in-store experience were rated excellent 

End goal?

Digital media and support for mobile digital devices when implemented as part of a well-designed marketing plan can ensure a retailer’s stores become destination points.

The holy grail is then personalisation in-store using customer recognition and multiple datasets.