Andrew Ridl, One Digital Media CEO
There are few sectors that are quite as disposed to reinvention as retail. With a history spanning thousands of years, the business of selling goods to consumers has been forced to repeatedly adapt itself to changing environments and public expectations. In many ways, flexibility and agility are hardwired into this segment's corporate DNA.
The modern retail environment is no different. Purchasing habits have evolved considerably since the days of small street markets and neighborhood grocers. The modern super consumer now expects retail outlets to be finely attuned to their personal changing needs, to respond in real time, and to offer pertinent information to allow them to (accurately) make a purchase decision.
This has placed large retail groups and franchise owners in an exciting position. They can now change from traditional display and advertising models, which typically employ printed collateral to "push" sales offerings or special deals to a system which allows retail managers to tailor make communication or allow consumers to interact with the retail environment to get the information they need.
In response, many of these stakeholders have begun to embrace digital signage solutions. Available in many shapes and sizes, commercial displays and interactive devices offer an elegant solution to consumer demand for immediate reaction and interaction. Instead of finding the budget and time required to print out a new sign offering a short term discount retailers can simply choose to alter the content shown on their in store monitors.
At store level this approach makes good commercial sense. With the requisite tools and knowledge store owners and managers can easily move or edit display content according to the trading circumstances in the store - right now or in the near future. In the long term these units pay for themselves as traditional agency and printing time and costs spent producing it is eliminated.
For those groups or franchise owners responsible for the daily management of several hundred outlets, controlling individual digital signage solutions can become a challenge.
This is where a gap within the market exists. In order to respond to unique consumer needs or to immediately advertise geographic specials at a particular location, retail groups must be able to oversee digital solutions via a central management portal.
To alleviate this challenge One Digital Media has developed a multi-layered platform that allows franchise owners and retail groups to remotely manage the content displayed at any location - within certain central marketing parameters. This offering allows store owners to create their own advertising collateral based on approved branding templates and images accessible via the Cloud - reducing the need for "local" graphic design budgets.
Finally, the engine also incorporates a timing mechanism that allows retailers to cue product specials or messages well in advance. If the Hot Meal Replacement category sells better between 11am and 2pm, a store owner could easily schedule the communication points in-store to focus on this category or offer discounts to up-sell at that time of the day.
In this way we are striving to make the South African retail environment more responsive and customer focused. Although meeting rising super consumer expectations is an ongoing challenge for many outlets, digital signage solutions coupled with a dynamic content management system are a comprehensive step towards the ideal of truly connected retail.