The rise of in-store technology (in the hands of shoppers)

In-store mobile technology in retailTen years ago (2004), advertising-based in-store technology in South Africa was quite limited to TV monitors or small and large digital screens, PA systems with radio channels and coupon dispenser units attached to aisle shelves. Regarding in-store analytics, the tracking of foot traffic was almost solely done with infra-red foot counters and on the whole, retailers and shopping center owners had little way of engaging shoppers in-store without employing someone to do so. They also had almost no measurable method of seeing what was going on in the shop – the things they couldn’t “see” and also what they didn’t know.

Nowadays, the technology that stores utilise has not improved much, in most store areas. Point-of-sale (POS) systems are often more than 10 years old and few other systems have been upgraded much. In-store digital advertising is probably the most recent of the lot, yet not very sophisticated.

So it will come as quite a surprise when we tell you that the best and highest quality technology in any store does not actually belong to the store at all. It is the mobile phones in hands of shoppers that gives retailers and malls the largest opportunity to advertise. Digital screens in-store are useless if shoppers are focussed on their own mobile world.

And therein lies the key. Get hold of a customer on their phones while they are in your shop, and you hit the right person at the right time in the right place, ready to make a purchase decision or take advantage of your special offer and add that extra product into their shopping basket. What’s more, if you aren’t engaging them, who is? Are they looking at competing products online or on price comparison websites?

In-store technology does not need to be the latest version when every shopper brings with them a thoroughly sophisticated device. Talk to them in a way that it matters: on their smartphones, in your shop.