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3 Key Topics to Consider before Implementing Retail Digital Directories

As many retail malls start to incorporate digital signage, wayfinding directories, and digital advertising platforms within their centers; many considerations must be taken into account to ensure you obtain the best return on investment while providing a great experience for your visitors.

Digital signage and directory solutions don’t need to be complicated, but with all the advancements in software technology, you must have a strong set of goals in mind for what you want your digital experience to accomplish.

In this edition of Acquire Talks, we dive into the world of retail digital directory solutions and take a closer look at some of the key considerations retail malls need to think about before deploying a new solution.

Aligning your team's goals

The most basic starting point is to align your team's goals and determine a clear vision for what your digital solution looks like. It is important to align the goals of the system with your internal marketing team, property management team, executive team, your tenants, and most importantly your mall visitors. Goals that are important to your tenants may be a disaster to your marketing team. Make sure your team aligns to determine the proper solution and features to consider when implementing a new digital signage system.

It all starts with each team developing a list of questions and scenarios that every aspect of your digital solution plans to solve. Some example questions could be:

    1. A mall owner might ask what the expected return on investment is for mall advertisements. To dive deeper, they might want to know how mall advertisements or how consumer data collection on the kiosk will drive additional revenue for their centers?
    2. A tenant store might wonder how a digital solution can help get a consumer from the entrance of the mall to their store faster.
    3. Or a marketing executive might wonder how they can shape the design of the user interface to match the branding elements on their website. Or maybe it’s a question of how they can drive traffic from the kiosk user interface to their mall website.

    As you can see, there are tons of potential questions to ask when it comes to a successful digital implementation. If your digital solution provider isn’t asking these types of questions then it might be time to look at other options.

    When we look at digital signage within retail malls, there are 3 key points to consider when rolling out a new software solution. And it’s not just about rolling out the solution now; it’s making sure you’re implementing a solution that can grow and advance for many years to come. The topics below represent a quick snapshot of the key things you should be thinking about when you want to introduce a new solution (you might even find answers to some of the questions I mentioned above!).

Digital-Out-Of-Home Advertising:

Yes, this is a no-brainer! You should be thinking about potential digital-out-of-home advertising capabilities when you bring digital into your center. It’s not 1995 anymore, those old static poster boards are gone and digital will help bring your advertising possibilities to the next level.

There are many types of ads you can show on the displays including static, video commercials, internal branding, promotions, and interactive advertisements. For retail malls, you should consider one set of content to drive consumers to use and interact with the digital directory, and the second set to engage passing shoppers.

The goal of retail digital directories is to get consumers to use them which opens a new set of marketing possibilities. Some of these include marketing data collection, tailored advertisements, and the opportunity to push consumers towards YOUR tenant’s stores.

When you think of DOOH advertising , there are tons of options that can drive you to your goals. First, you need to understand if your internal team can sell advertising space internally or if you need to use a third-party platform to bring in national ad campaigns. Additionally, there are options to have a mix of both.

The pros of being able to sell advertisements internally are that you can pocket more of the ad revenue you generate but it does take more time and resources to sell the ad space. Plus, you can give priority ad placements to your internal mall tenants.

For those of us that don’t have the time or resources to sit around and sell DOOH ad space, you’re in luck. Many ad placement networks can help you set up national and local advertisements. Do your research, they are out there! The only con to this is that they typically take a commission of the ads that are sold on the displays.

Whatever your strategy ends up being, be sure the advertising plan produces an ROI and helps drive your internal marketing and advertising goals.

User Interface and Software Design:

It is easy to sum up any user interface with two words; functionality and design. Perfect, just make sure the functionality and design of the interface work with your objectives! Let’s break it down.

If we review the list of questions and problems we discussed earlier and turn these into solutions for the functionality of the software design. Here are two example user stories commonly seen:

  • A shopper walks into the mall and is trying to get to their end location as quickly as possible,
  • A shopper walks into the mall and is looking for an experience and wants to browse around.

These are two opposite scenarios and require two unique solutions for the functionality of a digital directory. An easy functional fix here would be to give shoppers the ability to easily scan a map or search quickly using a ‘Google’ style search bar for their desired destination. On the opposite hand, if a consumer is just looking to browse around the mall then you should provide the ability to view different categories, promotions, events, and entertainment and restaurant options.

An equally important feature is the design of the user interface. Everything from the colors to the layout of every button on the kiosk interface. It’s obvious to understand why you want a beautifully designed user interface but you also must consider where to place the buttons on the display.

We’ve all seen ‘that’ mall directory where the main buttons are sitting below a consumer’s waist. This is not a good user experience and it does not drive consumers to want to use your kiosk. Make sure your software and hardware provider are working together to ensure a functional design.

One of the more commonly discussed functionality and design topics is the best way to display mapping and wayfinding information. Customers are always asking if it’s better to show a large 3D map covering the entire display; or if they should show a map like the MOA Directories (Mall of America) that are always pointing forward with a simple-to-follow highlighted route to the end location. These are just two examples of various ways to layout a map.

The functionality and design of the user experience is your chance to tell your brands' story. Make sure your software company properly designs the interface to solve your property objectives! Trust me, this is important.

Mobile Capabilities:

The future is now and we all know that consumers can’t go more than 2.7 seconds without looking at their smartphone. Well maybe it’s a bit longer than 2.7 seconds but you get the point.

Smartphones are the future of shopping experiences and you must take this into account when implementing an interactive digital directory. The question you may ask is how we get access to a consumer smartphone, yes sounds creepy but this is what the advertising and marketing world has come to.

Mobile capabilities should be taken into account as you want to make sure your solution includes ways for consumers to take mapping and promotional information with them. If you can’t get a consumer to transfer information directly from the kiosk to their phones; then you should consider designing the user interface to collect consumer data or to sign up to your e-mail or texting club.

In conclusion, retail mall properties will continue to embrace digital signage and directory solutions, and the stakes are high to produce a solution that works well for your properties' needs and goals. Working with a software provider that takes a deep dive into your needs and goals will go a long way when you get to the deployment stage.

Where does Acquire Digital fit into retail center deployments?

Acquire has deployed thousands of digital directory and wayfinding solutions for retail properties around the world and is considered the industry leader within the retail space. Our team of expert digital signage consultants can help guide your organization through the key points mentioned above and the many others that we didn't get to in this post.

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