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Retail’s digital transformation has been long underway with the advent of online shopping. In this digital storefront, consumers have benefitted from personalization, a wealth of product information at their fingertips, and the convenience of one-click purchases. On the business side, it provided companies with cost-effective customer acquisition, unparalleled insights into their sales funnel, and the ability to perform laser-focused marketing.
But one thing these digital transformation efforts have missed is the inclusion of brick-and-mortar locations. And in a time when customers’ expectations are higher than ever—thanks to their experience with online shopping—offline retail stores lag far behind.
“In online stores, retailers need to have audience measurement, targeted marketing, and the ability to offer the exact right product at the right time—or the customer is gone,” says Alex Rekish, Chief Technical Officer at DISPL, a developer of digital signage and visitor analytics software. “But in offline stores, none of that exists. That lack of measurability makes the offline sales process expensive and inefficient—and results in an underwhelming in-store experience for customers.”
As a result, brands and retailers are eager to find new ways to help their offline stores catch up to their online counterparts. And fortunately, with advancements in computer vision, AI-powered digital signage solutions are now possible.
#AI-powered #DigitalSignage has become a powerful tool for #DigitalTransformation because of its ability to combine several cutting-edge #technologies into a single, easy-to-manage platform. @Displayforce1 via @insightdottech
Edge-Enabled Solutions Deliver Insights and Help Optimize Sales
AI-powered digital signage has become a powerful tool for digital transformation because of its ability to combine several cutting-edge technologies into a single, easy-to-manage platform. DISPL’s smart retail solution, for example, comprises:
- Smart media players that control in-store displays. The cross-platform player software can be installed on DISPL hardware or any media player device that broadcasts content such as display panels, LEDs, and so on.
- Computer vision processing that provides insight into customer behavior. USB cameras acquire images of customers for computer vision processing. An AI-powered algorithm at the edge is used to obtain insights into customer demographics, shopping behavior, and engagement, and show relevant, targeted content to individual customers in real time through in-store displays. In regions with strict data privacy laws, using computer vision and AI at the edge also means that collecting sensitive personalized data—or sending it elsewhere for processing—is unnecessary.
- A web-based CMS (cloud or on-premises) to help retailers manage content and hardware network, and view collected data. The CMS enables custom content to be displayed to different shoppers or at different times and locations. It also offers a dashboard that lets decision-makers view demographic information, conversion metrics, and customer engagement data to optimize in-store displays and layouts for increased sales.
The combination of these technologies helps retailers and brands transform store displays into powerful, smart tools capable of obtaining customer insights, increasing sales, and improving the in-store experience for shoppers (Video 1).
AI Digital Signage with Rapid Improvements
Once deployed, AI digital signage can quickly improve sales—and the customer experience. And believe it or not, the reason is because most brands and retailers are already familiar with using these “new” capabilities since they’ve been online for years.
Because of this, their marketing and sales teams know very well how to use digital technology to serve targeted messaging, optimize displays based on customer profiles, and A/B test media. What’s new is that, for the first time, these capabilities are also available to brands in their physical locations. The fact that companies already know how to use these tools online means that offline improvements can happen virtually overnight.
Case in point is DISPL’s experience with a pair of electronics retailers in Europe.
Cyprus-based Acean and the largest Greek consumer electronics retailer Kotsovolos were both looking for ways to implement their online business processes in their offline stores. The companies shared similar goals. Acean wanted to understand its offline funnel and audience and optimize in-store marketing to boost sales. Kotsovolos wanted to use in-store screens for analytics and to display targeted messaging to individual shoppers according to their demographics.
DISPL worked with Acean and Kotsovolos to set up customized deployments of their AI digital signage solution. The results came quickly. Acean turned 44% of their visitors into engaged leads—resulting in a 15% sales increase. Kotsovolos, for its part, saw significant growth in visitor engagement. The company was so impressed that it scaled up its initial trial deployment from 16 to 100 screens after a few weeks—and says the experience helped it transform its thinking about targeted messaging and the role of the physical store.
To make these improvements and help bring its product to market quickly and effectively, DISPL used Intel computer vision technologies.
“Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ Toolkit helped us train our neural networks, optimize algorithms, and shorten time to market by speeding up development,” says Rekish. “In addition, Intel software development tools help us roll out new features faster if our customers ask for them.”
AI, Digital Signage, and the Future of Retail
In the years ahead, DISPL and other AI digital signage providers will have plenty of development work and features requests to handle—because the platforms they offer are just getting started, according to Rekish.
For one thing, there will be AI digital signage opportunities for systems integrators and solutions developers in other verticals and industries: from smart cities and museums to banking, security, and logistics.
In addition, there will be further enhancements within the retail space. DISPL, for example, is already looking for ways to use AI to automate A/B media testing and leverage computer vision to simplify point-of-sale age verification for restricted products.
In short, the possibilities of AI digital signage are enormous for solutions providers, SIs, and brands—both inside and outside the retail space.
“AI digital signage solutions can be implemented in so many ways that the technology is going to spread far beyond retail,” says Rekish. “Offline will become more like online in the future—offering cost savings, providing easier customer experiences, and making our physical world more interactive than ever before.”
This article was edited by Christina Cardoza, Associate Editorial Director for insight.tech.