Monday, June 16, 2008

Computing the Potential of IT in Retail

With retail booming across India it is high time to take a closer look at the impact IT has on the retail scene. It is a well known fact that today’s retailers are highly dependent on IT for processes such as stock keeping. The question that poses the interactive advertiser is, how can IT be leveraged profitably within the retail space to promote products.

One solution that has been implemented in certain stores such as Shopper Stop is store specific interactive displays. These are screens that are very similar to the Out of Home advertising screens that have popped up around metros. The differentiating factor being that these screens are focussed on in-store promotions.

The next logical step would be to use OHP LCD projectors to project brand specific messages within the store on a larger scale. Interactive kiosks could be effectively used for white goods and high involvement purchases, allowing consumers to discover the features of products showcased. This would educate customers and alleviate the burden on the sales force (which is often ill-equipped to deal with customer queries anyway.)

Beyond the obvious and what perhaps may have the most potential is in-store IT enabled announcements. In-store announcements as it exists today are dull and boring, employees who read out offers are merely doing it to make their daily bread and put no emotion into it. The result, an irritating cacophony that no one is really paying attention to within the store. The need for the day therefore is an automated system that generates in-store announcements that have some feeling to it. The problem is that the system would need to be highly dynamic to be able to keep up with constant changing offers.

A possible business model would be to have studios that are established for the sole purpose of recording such in-store announcements for retail chains. This could result in announcements that are not only pleasing to the ear but might actually induce customers to inquire about the offer at hand.

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