Did the malls seem a little less crowded this past holiday season?
They did to me, and it doesn’t take an industry analyst to identify why. The brick-and-mortar-crushing reality is that online shopping:
- 1. Is easy
- 2. Keeps getting easier
- 3. Let’s you avoid crowded stores.
While we’ve seen that effect lurking for years, it finally seemed to truly affect integrators’ retail market business. CI’s 2017 State of the Industry Report shows that less than a quarter of surveyed integrators saw revenue from their retail market customers climb in 2016. It’s a data point that has lagged for the past three years compared to other more vibrant verticals.
Only 9 percent expect to see their retail market revenue grow more than 10 percent during 2017. Times are tough when it comes to retail, so we’ve decided to use this space to offer reasons for optimism:
Negative Becomes a Positive
The fact that it’s challenging to inspire shoppers to leave their home and go to a store means retail outlets are tasked with creating more engaging experiences. That, of course, creates opportunities for integration firms to provide interactive displays, digital signage and more. It’s similar to how sports stadiums struggle to get fans off of their couches and away from excellent TV coverage. As such, the bar keeps getting raised for sports venue video displays.
Much like companies are rethinking their office spaces and creating opportunities for integrators, retailers are rethinking store spaces and leaning on technology.
Managed Services Potential
It’s not easy, acknowledges Roberta Perry, VP of business development at Edwards Technologies, a Top 5 Retail Market firm in CI’s Industry Leaders. But retail clients are logical candidates for managed services. The biggest challenge, Perry says, is “convincing potential clients to adopt subscription-based, scalable content management. Issues are addressed in face-to-face meetings and road shows.”
Not Many Can Do It
It goes without saying that a retail market integration firm needs to have mastered digital signage, but an overlooked requirement of the market falls on the business side. Lead times for retail projects tend to be relatively long. Firms need tight operations in order to retain profitability.
If You Can Do Content …
It’s well documented that most integration firms don’t offer content solutions. However, those that can offer digital signage content can stand out in the retail market. Kevin Goldsmith, chief technology officer at Ping HD, a retail market CI Industry Leader, says “cost is a huge factor” in providing solutions both he and the customers want.
“Our agile development on our core CMS ensures that we provide all the features required for digital signage projects. Having an in-house content design team allows us to provide a complete turnkey integration service,” he says.
Long-Term Customer Relationships
Serious Audio Video, a retail market CI Industry Leader, uses “strategic planning and unique designs to set us apart from our competitors as well as our customer service and marketing strategy,” says VP of marketing Joe Lipari. “We build long-lasting relationships with our customers and position ourselves as experts in the field.”
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According to NanoLumens, retailers who integrate technology with design to create new kinds of compelling customer experiences will keep their doors open and create loyal customers. This provides integrators with an opportunity to take advantage of the retail market’s need to create new customer experiences.
Carefully themed visual displays have become the center of the complete digital retail experience that is actually revitalizing the brick and mortar concept, according to Matt Nurre, VP of global retail sales at NanoLumens.
“Visualization, and all of the technologies that attach to it, are actually being used to define the essence of the retailer’s brand for the 21st century consumer,” Nurre explains.
This idea of the store becoming the personality of the brand wouldn’t be possible without technology, according to Nurre.
“Technology is what allows a retailer to combine content and space in ways that are unique to their brand. Technology is freeing retailers to design unique customer experiences that are totally immersive. It’s the experience that first attracts and then holds the interest of the shopper, resulting in a shopping experience that lasts longer, generates higher sales, and increases the likelihood of repeat customer visits to the store.”
Upside Is Enormous
It’s not difficult to think of integration firms that have grown leaps and bounds from winning over a client with national or global franchises. It happens in the hotel market, the restaurant market and most certainly in the retail market.
It makes sense, therefore, that so many firms pursue retail customers despite projecting flat growth. One happy client can redefine an integration firm.