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How to use visual displays to stand out in the crowded retail sector

Retailers can still use visual displays to attract and engage shoppers, even when everyone else is doing it too, according to Samsung Displays’ Chirag Shah.

Many brands now have fewer shops than they did before the online shopping and e-commerce industry boomed. Despite difficult trading circumstances, many retailers are choosing to invest in the stores that do remain. Shops, after all, are not just about selling goods – these physical locations encourage customers to connect with the brand and build relationships. To make these shops viable, customers must be encouraged to visit and then also urged to stay and engage with the brand. And this is where visuals play an important role.

Attractive displays have long been important to retail. From painstakingly put together window arrangements to improve footfall, to simple yet effective price offer banners to boost conversions, catching customers’ attention has always been (and will always remain) essential for retailers.

With indoor and outdoor displays, video walls and stretched panels to choose from, business owners have many options to captivate their customers and passersby digitally – all in stunning resolution.

8K UHD resolution is being adopted by the TV industry, and professional-grade digital signage is expected to soon follow. As 8K UHD displays are capable of producing extremely detailed imagery due to their resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels (4,320p or 33.2 megapixels), they are ideal for creating impressive talking points in retail stores. They help bring to life the finer details of the product and technology.

Screens of this quality can be used to form part of industry-leading retail experiences and memorable pop-ups, with the displays’ hyperrealism and vivid colours capturing and maintaining people’s attention. As well as bold brand-building advertisements, they can also showcase products in detail.

The quality and scale of good displays alone will capture attention. However, in a retail environment where every store is competing to offer strong visual experiences, you need to do more than just be aesthetically pleasing to truly stand out.

In recent years, digital signage and its complementary technologies have evolved to bring us the smartest screens we have ever seen. With integrated solutions available, retailers can move from a generic, mass-market approach to data-driven, real-time personalised promotions. This sophisticated level of customisation ensures that visual displays remain attention-grabbing – even when they become the new normal for retailers.

Displays can be used to show personalised dynamic content that can change based on engagement level, the weather and even the demographics of the viewer(s). This tailoring can hugely improve the experience of customers which, in turn, will maximise ROI for retailers.

The future offers many possibilities for optimising this experience. For example, cameras in shopping centres may be able to see customers throughout a mall, note what they pay attention to, the routes they take and translate this into ‘likely behaviours’, presenting highly targeted content on digital screens in targeted stores. It may sound like sci-fi but it’s a future that’s not far away.

Highly targeted messages and ads like this can certainly attract customers, but you can go one step beyond to encourage engagement – augmented reality (AR). Again, it may seem futuristic but it’s already being adopted. At the moment, the use of AR is commonly used in apps and headsets but this still requires the user to take a step to engage with it (i.e. put on a pair of goggles). By combining AR into displays, you make it even easier to engage – helping people get involved without any hesitation. This can be done on a small (and practical) scale, such as virtually trying on outfits in false ‘mirrors’, or large (and memorable), such as interactive, gamified billboards.

Encouraging relationship building with your brand is key for survival in today’s competitive landscape. Visual displays is one of the ways this can be achieved. Combined with amazing high-resolution displays and contextually relevant messages, retailers doing this right will continue to stand out when displays are a staple of every shop.

Chirag Shah is director, marketing, Large Displays, Samsung Display