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Exclusive: Sign of the times for retail

Jatin Bhatt, business development head, retail, at Sony Professional Displays & Solutions Europe, discusses the changing needs of AV in retail

One of the biggest industries to take a significant hit in the past two years was, of course, the retail market. High street shops closed for months on end, consumers started turning to online stores, and brands had to frantically update and refine their online offering. Fast forward to now, and retailers are desperately trying to give their customers new and enhanced experiences that bring them back in store, but still provide the mass availability of online. 

But how can AV help these brands to communicate important messages, promote latest styles and offerings, and ultimately give their customers a complete offline and online experience? There’s multiple ways to use AV in retail, but digital signage has got to be the most impactful. And as the needs of our customers continue to shift and change, you can be sure that screens will continue to be at the core of the retail experience.

The buying behaviour of customers is changing dramatically. A large number of the next generation are shifting their buying habits to brands that take sustainability and ethical concerns seriously, so it’s essential that retailers highlight their environmental efforts to engage new and existing customers. Digital signage is absolutely mandatory to have in store – to push promotions, engage with customers and highlight potential upselling opportunities – but it can also be used to promote the brands ethical and sustainable values. 

Now it’s all well and good using displays to promote, engage and inform, but retailers must consider the sustainability element when investing in displays and other visual solutions. Our BRAVIA displays, for instance, use recycled plastic content with Sony-developed SORPLAS, which increases our use of recycled material without sacrificing design and durability and reduces overall virgin plastic use by up to 60%. This equates to approximately 140,000,000 compact discs.

Retailers are understandably desperate to get customers back into store, with many investing in AV solutions and gamifications to provide enhanced experiences like selfie walls, virtual reality studios and visual displays. But we can’t ignore the success online retail has had over the last 26 months and allowing customers to browse online will only entice them more. The endless aisle gives retailers the best of both worlds – footprint in store, where customers can be given an experience, combined with the availability, range and ease of the online world, accessed by a simple QR code (which is making a remarkable comeback in our post-covid world). 

AV signage can support retailers in delivering an end to end experience as soon as a customer enters the store to purchase. An example of this is a screen that automatically displays content based on the demographic that’s watching. This could be the weather, a popular twitter feed, alongside their online shop. This level of personalisation is the next step up for retailers to consider if they want to enhance the experience of their customers and maximise sales.

See our June edition –  available from May 31 – for our special report on hybrid retail.