Retailers have relied on static mall maps for decades to convey store location, including the familiar “you are here” mall maps. Today, shopping centers are overhauling mall signage in favor of interactive digital signs that do a lot more than display location.
The newest iterations of mall maps look more like a video game than a traditional map, and are intended to function more as a digital concierge—providing far more than just directions. These touch displays allow users to zoom in and out while providing step-by-step directions and estimates of walk times to any given shop. They also feature multi-lingual interfaces and options to find handicap-accessible routes throughout the mall. And they often highlight sales promotions, movie times, and special events. Shoppers can further engage with the kiosks by downloading a companion mobile app to their smartphones, allowing them to add coupons, RSVP to events, sign up for updates, and share photos.
And while these features are all helpful to shoppers, these kiosks offer new ways for retailers to engage consumers and promote purchasing. Given the digital platform, retailers can change information quickly and easily as needed.
These new mapping models are not limited to kiosks in malls. Retailers can also offer apps or websites that enable shoppers to plan their mall trips, helping with everything from driving directions to the mall to real-time data on open parking spaces, as well as directions upon arrival to locate specific stores.
This technology is proving invaluable to retailers that also use GPS and radio-frequency identification (RFID) to track which stores are generating the most traffic, and how factors such as time of day and construction affect foot traffic. The technology is proving useful to track internal store operations like inventory or to prevent return fraud. And when shoppers are elsewhere, such as in the mall or even en route, the technology allows retailers to collect additional data about consumer habits—all while improving the consumer experience.
These new navigation kiosks and apps have many of the same issues as other innovative retail technologies. Retailers and consumers alike should be cautious and understand the privacy concerns associated with technologies that track shopper movements, especially outside of the store. As we’ve detailed in prior blog posts, retailers have options to protect their customers’ privacy by de-personalizing or “hashing” data immediately upon collecting it.
Digital signage helps bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce experiences. While many customers enjoy the convenience of shopping online, brick-and-mortar stores are continually improving the in-store experience with technology advances, and digital signage is one more way retailers can do so.