In the retail market more than any other, customers are focused on return on investment. If making a change to a store will bring in more customers and drive more sales, it’s a good idea; if it won’t, it’s summarily rejected. So, how can systems integrators balance this belief when ROI is a bit harder to prove with digital signage, touchpanels and other A/V upgrades?
The retail market is “a bit of a different animal,” says Vince Faville, digital signage market development manager at Advanced AV. “Everything hinges on ROI and getting the most bang for the buck.” Retailers also are looking to promote their products and services and increase awareness of their brand, he says.
“We act as a consultant as much as possible,” says Faville. “The ultimate goal is to educate the client enough that they have to work with us.” That’s done through a thorough needs analysis and other pre-install techniques, he says.
Growth in the retail market has been lower than in other verticals, says Faville.
“Advertisers don’t understand our technology yet,” he says. “They’re still tied to print, even as the options for print continue to go away or get smaller. We concentrate on those retailers and advertisers who are trying to drive their own brand. As you push your brand, that’s increasing your business.”
Scott Harmala, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer at ATK Services, says the company prefers to “drive down our own lane,” with a
retail client list that includes Apple – they’ve outfitted almost 500 stores around the world – but no other large clients for now. They’ve focused mostly on southern California outlets, he says, looking for clients that have “a lot of locations rather than a one-off mom-and-pop store.”
“It’s not important to hit a home run on every installation,” Harmala says. “It’s more about building loyalty and credibility over the long haul. We plant a lot of seeds and nurture them over time so a lot of them grow.”
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These days, ATK is focused on adding visual elements for its retail clients, along with distributed audio, interactive displays and live content, Harmala says.
Brian Edwards, CEO at Edwards Technologies, says we’ve “reached the tipping point on technology’s acceptance in the retail space. Technology can have an effect on sales, drive profits and move the needle.” That’s why Edwards launched Fresh Juice Global, a new division dedicated to retail work. “We’ve become a really important member of the design team.”
Edwards’ most well-known and highly visible work comes in the Disney retail stores, where they have installed self-contained cloud-based projectors and touchscreen monitors that significantly drop infrastructure costs and give the retailers more space to display items on shelves.