Welcome to the Ruck Blog!

Hello and thanks for visiting our blog - here you will find interesting articles on what's happening in the world of point sale, visual merchandising and display innovation.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Digital Signage in Retail - Guest Blog by Sarah Allen from Acquire Digital

There is a shift towards digital signage in the retail industry. We are experiencing more and more installation enquries for digital display and point of sale so I thought this week we'd take a look at the changing face of retail signage, and discuss what the future holds with our first guest blog.
We asked Sarah Allen, Senior Marketing Executive from Aquire Digital, a few questions about digital signage in the retail sector and how they are providing innovative digital displays.

At Acquire Digital we believe in enhanced communication.  We specialise in the creation and develop of digital display solutions that contribute to improved communication and an enhanced user experience.  We provided end-to-end solutions creating both the digital programme and content for digital interactive applications.



1)    What types of digital display do you typically supply to the retail industry?

We develop and supply solutions such as, digital menu boards, digital point of sale, interactive kiosks, Wayfinder solutions, and virtual receptionists which are commonly used on digital displays such as touch-screens, kiosks, flat screens or video walls.

2)    What are the new technologies that you feel will be used in retail in 2013?

Over the last few years we have witnessed a huge increase in the demand for more innovative and interactive solutions for retail environments. This can be attributed to the advances in technology and the ever growing competition with online retailers.  More and more consumers are shopping on-line where queues are thing of the past, so a lot of retailers are implementing a queue management system which helps entertain waiting customers as well as manage queues through the ‘Call forward’ system. Customers take a ticket and then wait until the next cashier becomes available.
Because consumers are very tech-savvy these days, many customers have almost come to expect a certain element of digital in their shopping experience. for example accessing product information on a touch screen or seeing promotions being displayed on digital boards.  Many retailers have started to implement this and it is proving to be successful at increasing dwell time in shops and increasing engagement between brands and customers.  
The latest technologies that we have started to use is Near Field Communication (NFC), Interactivity, audience recognition and GPS location based advertising in a bid to maximise interaction between retail brands and their consumers.

3)    How do you measure ROI on digital signage?

Many digital solutions that we design and implement grow from a desire to increase interactivity and engagement or to add value to the in-store customer experience.  It is therefore difficult to report on tangible, monetary ROI in relation to these objectives.  However, it is important to highlight the benefits of providing a service to customers that is unique, memorable and one that adds to the unrivalled experience of dealing with your business.
There is also the investment element of installation in digital systems. The messaging and campaigns on digital displays can be changed at any time remotely so the cost associated with printing posters, distributing them and installation is reduced. Instead, digital allows you to update artwork/content and deploy in to an unlimited amount of stores world-wide in a push of button.
Our software will also measure how many views it has received which can also record audience age and gender for those who require specific monetary return on investment.
      Many organisations have reported that the installation of self-service kiosks or digital displays has helped to save staff’s valuable time and therefore money. Kiosks and displays that help customers locate places and products, or allow them to book onto activities in a leisure park, for example,  eliminate the need for staff to be on hand to do this for them.



       4) How does the interactiveness of an application impact on sales?

Interaction between brands and consumers is hugely important and cannot be underestimated. Consumers are tech-savvy these days and hand held devices such as tablets and iPhones means that retail outlets are competing against the online world, where prices comparisons can be made easily, orders can be made instantly and customers generally serve themselves.
Interaction provides this autonomy whether it is serving yourself, locating things for yourself or just generally browsing at leisure. Interaction is still regarding by most as being innovative and consumers like to see brands align themselves with innovation and technology as it means that they are cutting-edge and forward thinking.


5)    What typically is the life cycle of a digital project?

Hardware, such as TVs, monitors, computers will eventually become obsolete and can break so we always advise to check the manufacture warranty. However, software or the Content Management systems that we build are a little different. We continually assess and develop the technology that we provide so that our solutions remain cutting-edge, fresh and innovative. All of our software packages are continually being upgrades and upgrades can be made automatically over the internet.  The great thing about working with digital is that changes can be made remotely and as often as you like meaning that solutions don’t really have a life-cycle because tweaks, or even larger developments can be made remotely.
Software as a whole is an invaluable investment for advertisers and communication managers due to the ease of making future up-grades and the adaptability of software.  Software unlike anything else is virtually future proof and can be continually developed to satisfy client needs and objectives without the potential risks of a lengthy and expensive overhaul of existing software systems. 


6)    In your opinion what will the next big thing in digital signage for retailers?

Near field Communication is definitely one to look out for but I personally think that NFC is a bit of fad, much like the QR code scanning. What I think will really become big is the ability to integrate social media profiles into the real world.  For example, retailers that have a twitter account could allow customers to Tweet to that account, to generally send comments, recommendations and feedback.  Shops can actually display their ‘Tweets’ in store to allow their customers to see their ‘Tweets’ on the big screen.


To view an article recently written by Sarah Allen called 'Bringing the Online Experience Instore' please click here: http://www.acquiredigital.com/NewsStory/onlineinstore


Friday, 19 October 2012

High Street Retail - The Ups and Downs

Following on from the last blog on the expansion of Supermarkets it was interesting to see the figures in the news this week on the rate of shop closures. Figures for July & August suggest that High Street shops are closing at a rate of over 30 per day.

Past over expansion for many retailers has seen them close shops as consumer spend reduces and customers shopping habits reflect a preference for free parking in larger, out of town centres or on retail parks. Some of the large retailers that went into administration this year had previously over expanded and had too many retail outlets.

Data from over 500 towns showed that clothes, toy, gift, jewellers, furniture, card and computer game shops were the type of retailers likely to be closing whereas charity, coffee, pound shops, discount stores, pawnbrokers, betting shops and convenience stores are opening in their place.
However retail sales overall were up in September as back to school and winter clothing sales contributed to an  increase of 0.6% in comparison to last months decrease of 0.1%. Compared to this time last year figures were up overall by 2.5% for September. Better weather and the end of the Olympics have seen customers return to the shops, but also this week we have had employment figures released showing a large decrease in unemployment numbers in the last three months.

In recession consumers are more careful when they spend, they want a bargain and to know that they are getting value for money and will search out the best places to go. Many big name retailers are what bring people in to town centres and supports the hub of other local, independent shops so losing them has wider implications for local economies.
Some good news and some bad for British retail. It certainly seems to be a time of adjustment as economic conditions push retailers in to administration, to reduce their estates and to take a long hard look at their strategy. On the other hand the retailers that are getting it right such as John Lewis that saw an increase in sales of 16.2% last week are profiting. The Olympics didn't work for most retailers, the terrible summer and recession has all impacted.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Supermarket Expansion - What is Really Happening?

It seems like in every town now there are new building projects happening that are set to be new supermarkets. All the major supermarkets are investing in new stores across the UK with an increase of 20% by 2014 expected just a year ago. With a new store opening or an expansion on an existing site happening every day, and on a scale we've never seen before, when will the rise in bigger and better and more supermarkets stop... how much is enough?
What does this mean for the consumer? Better access to their favourite choice of supermarkets, or less choice as the big names take more of the market share and impact on local independent retailers? 97% of all grocery spend is now with supermarkets.
The beginning of the recession had a positive impact for supermarkets, as other retailers go bust more money is spent with the supermarkets. Empty shops and pubs in key locations helped them acquire High Street sites for development of smaller express style stores. However 80% of the expansions are set to be out of town, larger developments. Supermarkets are no longer just grocery stores - the move towards large scale retail sites allows them to also increase on the range of clothing, electrical, home and entertainment items. Morrisons is catching up the other big three this year and next moving from a grocery based business to a lifestyle supermarket retailer with plans to extend its non grocery offering and introduce a new line of clothing in-store.

Although Morrisons has recently eased back on its expansion drive, Tesco too - having previously been pursuing the goal of having a site in every postcode area, as well as Sainsbury's and M&S. The recession has impacted longer term on commodity prices and along with higher fuel costs, poor harvest crops this year, and with government spending cuts set to continue retailers are being more cautious about their spend on expansion.
 So the upshot is that whilst supermarkets are still going ahead with expansion plans they are not going full steam ahead as they initially planned, and the 20% extra that was previously expected to happen has slowed considerably this year. The expansion plans are always good for supply chain companies like Ruck Retail, offering plenty of opportunity to install in new developements across the UK.