Buying into AV Displays: The Retail Experience
Retail is about attracting attention, but James Ingram from AV installation and consultation firm Prendi, a major sponsor of this year’s Integrate, says retailers should think about what they want to achieve before splashing out on the latest trend.
In fact, Ingram thinks retailers should think about whether they need the latest tech in the first place or whether content is the issue. He insists that clear direction in content is just as important as technical innovation.
“For example, 3D television came out but it never really took off,” he says.
“Now it’s curved screens and 4K, and soon it’ll be 8K. There are heaps of little trends and I guess the hardest part is not getting caught up in marketing that the manufacturers want you to get caught up in.
“Think about the core basics of a 1080p screen – it’s going to give you all the benefits of a 4K solution without the hefty price tag.”
Ingram says the hardest part of any retail installation is asking stakeholders why they are making the changes.
“Over the last few years, people have been rushing to get this hardware installed, but they haven’t thought about what they’re going to do with it,” he says.
“There are screens without content on them; retailers haven’t thought about the strategy or who’s doing the updates so you can make sure you are getting the most out of the displays.”
Screens without content? Ingram says it can happen. For example, a retailer installs 4K infrastructure and displays in a store. Only after the costly changes are made does the retailer discover that head office only has standard 1080p advertising content – or worse.
New technology is good, but do you need it?
Ingram says Prendi’s AV strategy is based on knowing what the client wants.
“If you walk into an adventure store, where you have camping and outdoor equipment, what do you see? Is it always about the product and prices? Or is it about landscapes and rolling hillsides, changing seasons, or images based on the time of the day? The content doesn’t have to be a direct sell. It could be, ‘Wow, I feel amazing when I’m in this store’.”
The problem is that sooner or later – usually sooner – someone up the marketing chain is going to ask why a display was upgraded. In other words, they will apply a metric to that transformation. Because no matter how beautiful those 4K micro-thin screens look, they have to earn their keep.
“I can guarantee that if a client tells me what his AV objective is right now, that in a year’s time somebody is going to ask, ‘What did we get out of this?’ Someone will have a metric to determine that,” he says.
“If it’s monetary, we need to know that right now, so we can align with it. If it’s something else, the brand identification or improved perceptions of the store, that’s another metric.”
Use new technology only when it will be effective
Ingram is no technophobe – after all, Prendi specialises in the kind of unique interactive displays that involve the latest technology.
But he does wonder if the public can tell the difference between 4K and 1080p unless it’s pointed out to them.
“4K is a great buzzword and the content is fantastic,” he says.
“We can use filmed 4K footage and cut out a 1080p version of it. It’s a lot more versatile, because there’s that higher resolution image. It’s great, but is the average consumer going to see a 1080p screen and then a 4K screen and know there’s a difference? Will they get a big enough benefit out of it to warrant the expenditure?”
The average consumer doesn’t care about the hardware, Ingram says.
“They’re going to ask, is that content relevant to me? Yes? No? To be in the game, retailers need to be digital, whether 4K, 8K or 1080p.”
After that, he says, it’s a question of what you want the images to express, it’s about content.
Beacons: the future of retail or too invasive?
There’s a scene in the science fiction film Minority Report where Tom Cruise’s character enters a shopping mall and immediately the advertisements begin addressing him by name, asking if he’s interested in their products.
The use of beacons which are programmed to pick up on a shopper’s identity are already science fact. iBeacon is Apple’s technology standard, allowing mobile apps to listen for signals from beacons in the physical world and react accordingly. Google has its own beacon standard, Eddystone.
If you have the right app, the moment you walk into the store a notification is sent to your phone informing you of the available brands on your favourites’ list that are available at that store.
Another notification pushes you live inventory data to let you know the styles available in your size.
It will also tell you where exactly in the store those garments are hanging so you can cut the time you would spend rummaging through the racks. Beacons bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping.
“The issue with beacons at the moment is you have to opt in,” Ingram says.
“You need an app on your phone that can communicate with the store beacon. Otherwise you’re just going to get spammed with advertisements as you walk down the street.”
“Beacons depend on people’s willingness to give up their privacy for convenience.”
Prendi at Integrate 2017
Prendi is a major sponsor of this year’s Integrate, and Ingram says he’s helping create content for the expo. He enjoys checking out the latest AV tech on display, and just as much as any other visitor, he’s interested in trends.
But for him, he says the most important AV trend is listening to his clients.
“It’s looking at why they’ve done the things they’ve done, and making sure they are getting value out of what they have. People think the biggest and the best is what they need. But it comes down to content.”
You can also see James as part of the Integrate Speaker Series sharing his insights into digital signage trends and engagement. View his sessions and purchases tickets here.