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Interactive showcases: the innovative tool that retailers have always dreamed of?

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The creation of attractive storefronts is an integral part of the marketing plan in the retail sector. In the digital age, retailers are moving towards interactive displays. Storefronts that adapt to their environment and create interaction with this environment while keeping essential functions such as displaying the brand’s new products, promoting ongoing discounts, and much more.
In this article, we will review the status of interactive display cases, a technology increasingly used in the retail world, and understand their benefits and technical aspects.

Summary

  1. What is an interactive showcase?
  2. A worthwhile investment?
  3. The functioning of an interactive showcase
  4. What are the potential pitfalls to avoid?

What is an interactive showcase?

An interactive showcase is a store or agency display, which offers interactions with passers-by via the external environment, whether it is the passers-by themselves, the traffic or the seasons. Its interactions can take different forms: visual, tactile or sound. This so-called “interactive showcase” can be compared to a large format touchscreen terminal directed, not at customers already present in the store but towards the street, for the benefit of passers-by, potential customers and the retailer’s own customers.

A worthwhile investment?

Specifically:

On average, 60% of all respondents to the Ipsos Digital Store survey said that the innovative tools available in some stores encourage them not only to visit shops and agencies but also to make purchases.

The primary purpose of an interactive showcase is to provide information while at the same time reaching out to passers-by. Indeed, it can take the form of a catalogue or guided tours for a real estate, for example, can allow virtual tests of clothes or glasses or simply intrigue and attract the attention of potential customers. Interactive showcases capture the interest of passers-by by playfully capturing their attention, and once the passer-by is lured by this unique showcase, it will be a question of informing them about the company, the trends and the products.

The promise is there: to make window shopping a new and personalised experience.

Read also: Retail: arrange products attractively to make customers buy more

While the disadvantages seem minimal (frequent cleaning of the display cases, installation…), the advantages that retailers derive from these interactive showcases are evident:

  • Increase the visibility and attractiveness of the brand through moving visual elements and the creation of interactions with the environment outside the store.
  • A unique and tailor-made interactive, playful experience that creates an emotional bond with the client.
  • Informative and commercial support including many marketing, communication and information about the brand, the manufacturing processes, promotions and offers in progress, and so on.
  • Increase in-store traffic and/or customer flow management. A hair salon without scheduling an appointment could, for example, display the estimated waiting time and offer potential customers and customers to receive a text message when it is their turn.
  • Differentiating from the competition. Whether or not the latter has an interactive showcase, each one will be unique, among other things because each interaction is unique.
  • Available 24/7, even when the shop or agency is closed. This allows shoppers to enjoy the entertainment but above all the information displayed, regardless of the day or the amount of time they spend in front of the storefront window.
  • Enhancement of the brand’s innovative image. The experience of customers and potential customers is not only original, but it is also personalised, which creates an even more concrete link between individuals and the company.
  • Evolving support that can be transformed, modified and adapted very easily and quickly. Efficient and easy information collection (the number of people reached by the interactive showcase, the number of people in stores or agencies, and so on). This collected data allows the company to measure its return on investment and significantly improve the efficiency of its call to action.
Read also: How to successfully prepare and carry out the qualitative phase of your market research

The functioning of an interactive showcase

On the technical and equipment side, several options can be used. For a touchscreen interface storefront, a transparent film with sensors is installed against the storefront window, so that – as on a smartphone or touchscreen tablet – movements made on the storefront window are detected and trigger the interaction. In this way, they send the information or trigger the action requested at the click of the passer-by. It is also possible to manage the interactive window through cameras and motion sensors as BMW has done in New York with a traffic and car recording system to duplicate the street image in a future version on their interactive storefront.

The transmission is made by screens, placed slightly behind the windows, by video projectors or by objects that react and move according to the external environment, as Nike did with an interactive showcase that evolves as people walk past the shop.

Touch or motion sensors are connected to the screens by a computer. And no need for a complex operating system as its use is limited to data collection, transmission and display. However, it will be a matter of paying attention to data security, whether it is that of the customer or the retailer. It would still be unfortunate to find all the company’s internal information made public on its own storefront.

Creativity and technical progress have no limits, so projects have been developed that are common to several retailers. This was the case with the interactive showcases designed with SEMAEST in 2016, which aimed to revitalise the 10th arrondissement of Paris. By combining recycling and 3D printing, the company has delighted the entire district, from shopkeepers to simple passers-by, by offering a unique interactive experience.

For more information, discover the articles we have dedicated to them.

Read also: 10 Parisian stores with a 3D-printed interactive window

What are the potential pitfalls to avoid?

It is important not to consider an interactive showcase as a simple gadget. It is a marketing tool in its own right that must be integrated into the marketing plan and have to be of real interest to shoppers, potential customers, but also customers. For example, it will be a simple case of not reproducing the company’s website, which does not bring any new information to the customer or prospect who can find all this information on his smartphone.
The interest of the interactive showcase will also be to have a defined goal for the company (to improve the rate of transit through points of sale, conversion rates, the dissemination of targeted information, and so on). These showcases allow for numerous data collections, a considerable advantage for a company. It will then be sufficient to quantify, measure and analyse the data generated and collected by the interactive showcase to refine and correct the marketing and communication strategy and even act on the products and the market, all this to improve the results of the company.

Read also: Market research: the 5 trends that will shape the future of retailing

One thing is sure, technology is at the centre of everyone’s life. As information is transmitted and exchanged faster and faster, customers, potential customers and shoppers want to have more efficient access to information and quickly find the data that concerns them and interests them. They want to remain autonomous while receiving tailor-made services. On average, 60% of respondents to the Ipsos Digital Store study said that the innovative tools available in some stores encourage them not only to visit shops and agencies but also to make purchases.

Picture: shutterstock

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