How to Reach Nonsmartphone Users With Interactive Technology
It's official: more than half of Americans now own smartphones. The truth is, most of us probably would have guessed this figure to be much higher. The percentage is certainly growing, however, presenting a number of opportunities for retailers to engage with consumers on an individual basis and when they're most likely to purchase. But consider the flip side: slightly less than half of America, or about 155 million people, is still without smartphones. Instead of leaving them in the dust by focusing exclusively on mobile-only campaigns, retailers should seize the opportunity to close the gap by engaging both audiences where it matters most — at the point of sale.
Interactive technology can help retailers bridge that digital divide. Technologies like touchscreens and kiosks reach beyond trends like mobile apps and QR codes to allow retailers to reach all consumers, not just those with smartphones.
Taking Advantage of the Touchscreen
For those consumers without smartphones, touchscreens provide a similar touch interface and access to important information that affects purchasing decisions. Touchscreen technology opens a portal for consumers to see product reviews, price comparisons and more, bringing this information right to their fingertips. And for the growing pool of consumers with smartphones, retailers still see the benefit of users browsing the content that's suggested for them, even allowing brands to emphasize different merchandise in-store than online.
Tablets, especially iPads, are another example of touchscreen use in stores. Brick-and-mortar staffs are already using iPads to locate items on sales floors, manage stock, handle customer complaints and even act as a point-of-sale terminal. With customized applications, the potential of tablets and touchscreens is almost limitless.
Macy's, for example, worked with Intel to create a touchscreen station that allows consumers purchasing cosmetics to explore all of the products available at the different counters. The touchscreen stations feature top cosmetic product picks and recommendations of products to achieve certain looks. Shoppers can view details of each product and create a shopping list that a tablet-equipped concierge helps them fulfill.
Increasing Interaction With Kiosks
Interactive kiosks take it one step further, offering a channel for retailers to provide value through deals exclusive to that kiosk. For example, if a customer at Kohl's can't find a product in a specific color, he or she can use the in-store kiosk to have the item sent to their home with free shipping, an option not always available to mobile or online shoppers.
Even if customers do have smartphones, interactive kiosks provide a direct destination. Instead of having to pull out their own phone, the kiosk gets them where they need to go, providing relevant information framed with the retailer's branding and messaging. Interactive kiosks keep in-store customers focused on your brands and merchandise. Kiosks can also enhance retailers' interactions with customers. These machines act as an opt-in point for connecting with customers through other channels (e.g., email and social media).
In this age of innovation, it's almost too easy to focus on the next big thing and leave behind those consumers who aren't moving quite so fast. Retailers need to integrate all channels, and interactive technology provides a means to do that as well as spur interaction with all types of consumers.
George Burciaga is the founder and CEO of Elevate Digital, a digital media company focused on developing interactive products that increase communication and enhance consumer access for retailers.