Why do brands need Digital Strategy?
In the current retail climate, brick and mortar stores are having to work harder than ever to compete both with each other and with online retail.
Due to the rise of online retail, the store proposition is being forced to move away from value and convenience, and towards creating and showcasing a physical brand experience.
The majority of brands are introducing digital into their physical store environments in order to elevate customers’ in-store experience. A branded experience that blends physical and digital elements is something that customers won’t get online, and so brands are focusing much effort on innovating and creating these memorable digital experiences in their stores.
Using digital in-store can be impactful and exciting; however, it also can create a visually noisy environment that can confuse and overwhelm customers, which brings about the need for a considered Digital Strategy.
What is a Digital Strategy?
As mentioned, when incorporating digital into the physical retail environment, there may be the temptation to create the ‘wow factor’, using an abundance of large format digital displays.
A successful Digital Strategy establishes which combinations of content and digital canvas will perform best in each location. It reviews all elements of the event or retail space in order to not just implement digital, but to blend technologies together to enhance the customer’s experience within the context of the event or store environment. A Digital Strategy may advise that less is more, and that seamlessly blended, interactive technologies are a better proposition than an abundance of bright, large format digital.
What makes a good Digital Strategy?
The physical environment must be reviewed and considered to ensure that digital elements are implemented in an aesthetically appropriate way. Digital elements should enhance rather than detract from their surroundings. This means reviewing the design of the space, taking note of materials, style and themes, and using these to inform the incorporation of digital elements in a stylistically sympathetic way.
A Digital Strategy also needs to guarantee that digital elements are technically deliverable. Having an in-depth knowledge of digital solutions allows for an effective Digital Strategy to be created which can advise on all practical details from physical construction considerations (build materials, access and maintenance) down to power, connectivity and integration.
The purpose of incorporating digital into an environment is paramount in establishing a Digital Strategy. No two digital solutions are alike, and since they can be used to enhance customer experience at virtually any point in their in-store experience, digital’s purpose needs to be defined from the outset in order for the strategy to propose the appropriate solutions.
This goes hand-in-hand with the need for clearly defined KPIs: the ‘goalposts’ for a Digital Strategy’s effectiveness to be measured against. Closely linked with digital’s purpose is the importance of meaningful content. The technology is, in essence, the tool or canvas for delivering the message. The Digital Strategy ensures the ability to deliver the content in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way, but without considered, creative content strategical digital falls flat.
The Management Factor
Whilst shaping the Digital Strategy, another element to consider is the ongoing management of the solution that is being implemented. The installation of the technologies to site is where the brand’s digital in-store offering begins, and so it’s imperative that once installed, the technology continues to deliver the expected outcomes. Not only must the Digital Strategy ensure the consideration of ‘what digital, where, and why’, but it’s also paramount that it keeps working after installation to take into account the ongoing management of installed technologies.
The ‘management factor’ will influence everything from practical considerations around design and build – how the tech is maintained, serviced, and its expected shelf life – to the management of content changes and how the solution can be evolved in the ever-progressing digital landscape.
Digital Strategy guides all of these considerations and ensures that they are planned for from the outset of a project, which is why it is an integral part of any in-store digital installation project.
At Blynk, we pride ourselves on our Digital Strategy. Every piece of proposed technology must pass our first, and most important, hurdle: ‘So What?’ What can this do that currently technology cannot, and what value does this bring? By asking these initial questions we start by interrogating the decision to include every piece of technology in a proposal, meaning no digital for digital’s sake, and only purposeful and relevant solutions are proposed.