Malls Take a Page from eCommerce with AI and Analytics

January 29, 2019 Georganne Benesch

Physical retail is taking a page from the eCommerce playbook. With interactive digital signage, shopping centers can be the physical “landing page” for the stores within them. And retailers can use the same technology to personalize customer shopping experiences and better understand consumer preferences.

Even with the growth of eCommerce, people love the tactile experience and instant gratification of in-store shopping. Streetside retail is thriving. In fact, new-store openings are on the rise.

New technologies such as digital video, AI, and analytics are powering innovative applications for malls, merchants, brands, and consumers. Interactive displays are providing entertainment and informative content while creating new revenue streams through advertising.

And in the store, retailers can use digital signage and video to determine consumer demographics and product preferences. Personalized content—guiding shoppers to specific brands or offering tailored promotions, provides similar benefits of eCommerce—and much more.

In-Store Shopping—Online Convenience

Picture a scenario where shoppers are immediately drawn to a kiosk as they enter a shopping mall. Its vibrant digital display offers the latest on new stores, movie reviews, holiday events, and more.

Now, as shoppers engage with the kiosk, it recognizes their gender and age group, and learns which content piques their interest.

Imagine the opportunities when customers can enjoy in-store shopping with all the benefits of an online shopping site. Customers can find the store with their favorite brands, scan the list of restaurants, and catch their favorite movie.

One company that’s making this possible is V-Series International, with its VigitSIGN Digital Signage Solution.

Take the Pavilion Mall Group in Malaysia, for example, which has deployed 400 displays in its seven upscale shopping centers. Using the VigitSIGN solution across the malls, they benefit from these scenarios and much more.

With GPS and location-based mapping, each floor in the mall can have unique and specialized signage. As they go from level to level, shoppers enjoy an even more customized experience—visiting recommended stores or even exploring specific brands.

“These centers want to publish different content on the ground floor, second floor, and so on,” said Stone Foo, CEO of V-Series International Group. “So the mapping of the signage location is very important. With embedded GPS we can identify each sign by location—from a single store or even across the country, and it can actually pop it up on the mapping system.”

VigitSIGN “widgets” give the Pavilion Mall operators flexibility to deploy specific features and content on as many displays, in as many locations, as desired. The countdown clock is one example.

Around the world, consumers flock to the malls during Christmas season. Digital displays across the shopping centers visually count down the days until Christmas—adding to the excitement and holiday spirit. Each day presents a new opportunity to offer all sorts of related content, giving the mall and retailers a platform for special advertising. And it encourages consumers to spend more time shopping.

Behind the Scenes

Another notable VigitSIGN feature is “back-of-store” signage. A wide range of real-time data can be displayed for shopping center staff, including management, operations, maintenance, sales, and marketing.

“We can publish reporting as interactive content for the staff,” Foo explained. “For example, the marketing team can see stats on the number of people coming into the mall. They can get real-time data on how content is performing on a certain floor. And this reporting is available right on a display in the office. There’s no need to login to the system, because everything is right on the wall.”

With the back-office solution, daily operations are optimized because staff have the information they need in a way that’s easy to view. Managers can dispatch personnel for janitorial cleanup, to handle emergencies, or perform daily assignments.

And centralized system maintenance significantly improves operations while lowering overall costs.

“After deploying our solution, The Pavilion Group has been able to maintain a 99.99% uptime overall,” said Foo. “If a display stops working, a team can be sent immediately, armed with troubleshooting data to fix the problem. In the past they needed full-time technicians on staff, and troubleshooting was time-consuming.”

Signage as a Service

VigitSIGN is a flexible and extensible cloud-based system composed of monitoring and management software, a cloud-hosted data center, indoor and outdoor displays, and optional embedded cameras.

Via a subscription service, the solution can be tailored to the specific needs of shopping center operators, brand managers, and store owners—from a basic digital display to globally deployed, multifunction systems.

Users can easily design and update dynamic content from anywhere in the world. This content is then delivered to edge devices connected to displays, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Centralized content management with V-Series hosted services.

Out of the box, the V-Series displays provide basic, centrally managed digital signage. Based on their needs, mall and store managers can determine which features they want to license and where they want to deploy them.

More than 40 applications are provided as downloadable widgets. They include capabilities such as facial recognition, interactive touchscreen, mapping, world clock, weather reports, and analytics.

The VigitADMIN software tool handles all system monitoring, reporting, dashboards, and asset management. Users have centralized control over all of its systems. They gain actionable insights with consumer-level reporting powered by Intel® RealSense visual analytics.

“Typically, different types of digital video must be managed and controlled independently,” said Foo. “If you have an LCD display, you need one system. If you have LED, you need another. We can manage these different displays with what we call Centralized Signage.”

Even as eCommerce has grown, retail is thriving. IoT technologies and solutions are bringing new life to retail shopping and new opportunities to merchants, shopping centers, and brands. The omnichannel shopping trend is blooming—and interactive video with AI and analytics is enriching the experience.

“Intel® technologies like Intel® vPRO, Intel® RealSense, and the OpenVINO toolkit enable us to continue developing on a single platform. That shortens our development time and so we can go to market faster. And that is why we consistently work with Intel.”

About the Author

Georganne Benesch

Georganne Benesch is the Senior Content Editor and Writer for insight.tech. Before this she was an independent writer, authoring blogs, web content, solution guides, white papers and more. Prior to her freelance career Georganne held product management and marketing positions at companies such as Cisco, Proxim and Netopia. She earned a B.A. at University of California at Santa Cruz.

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