The growth of Internet shopping is leading many people to predict the terminal decline of high street retailing. But are these people overlooking the preferences of shoppers and the dogged determination of traditional retailers?
Can The Retail Empire Strike Back?
At Zytronic we certainly think so. We’re seeing more and more traditional ‘brick and mortar” shops implementing eye-catching, interactive information and vending equipment to bridge the divide between e-commerce and the physical store.
Much in the same way that banking functions have now fallen to automated teller machines (ATMs), so too is retail now approaching a new era of automation. Where once a customer might have approached a member of staff to request assistance, now someone is likely to only encounter such an employee at the checkout or another designated staff location, such as an information kiosk.
Largely due to the rapid growth in ownership of smartphones and tablets, the consumer has become more familiar to the functionality and capability of touch screen devices. As such, encountering related, touch technology within a retail setting can provide a quick and satisfactory experience, akin to that found with their own technology.
Case study: PX GROUP – Telefonica-owned communications network Movistar is rolling out Zytronic Projected Capacitive (PCAP™) touch sensors to deliver an exciting interactive multimedia experience at stores and kiosks in South America.
PX Group created a completely new concept for flagship Movistar stores featuring an interactive touch video wall with three 50” or 46” touch screens allowing customers to browse while they are waiting, as well as a kiosk with a full product catalogue using a 40” screen, all the screens are implemented using Zytronic’s latest flexible touch film, ZyFilm® .
The ZyFilm is a flexible polyester touch foil suitable for temporary, semi-permanent and permanent touch applications depending on the method of lamination used when applying to the substrate material. The foils are capable of detecting over 40 simultaneous touch points through a glass thickness of at least 10mm. Available in a thin, rollable format, makes it an ideal and cost-efficient solution for use in public places throughout the world. DISCOVER MORE
Technology such as this is not only capable of offering a comparable level of service to a human salesperson but indeed goes beyond that to offer even broader services and features. Integration of social media and access to the entire range makes it possible for a customer to view and gain opinion on products which might not yet be available or else are presently out of stock. For the customer the advantages are choice, speed and buying experience. For the retailer the opportunity to increase sales and draw customers by the very presence of the display cannot be underestimated.
The development of multi-touch sensors has permitted the creation of devices which can be used by multiple customers or members of staff simultaneously. Such touchscreens could be mounted on the wall, a plinth or even integrated into a table to offer comfortable browsing and interaction in a relaxed setting.
This technology opens up new opportunities for purchasing but also for customising products such as high-end cars. The customer would be able to view their potential new purchase and also be able interact with it, moving a 3D model to capture the vehicle from all angles and environments, while they select paint, upholstery and accessories.
In the way that retail automation has already taken substantial steps forward, the future is likely to see each greater advances in what industry can provide. Interactivity with the customer’s own digital devices appears certain to be one the most pressing evolutions.
Technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) will allow the personal preferences, requirements and settings of the user to be immediately recognised by the retail device. The experience would be akin to using a tailor familiar with their customer’s exact sizes or else a hairdresser well versed on their client’s preference. In this way, touchscreen kiosks could not only match the personal experience provided by a human, but actually better it in terms of memory and dependability.
Case study: Zytronic’s Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT™) utilised by Videofonika to provide a durable and responsive multi-touch table with an enhanced user experience.
Zytronic, has supported Videofonika in the creation of their latest touchscreen solution, the @TABLE. This new interactive multi touch table delivers a sleek, contemporary and lightweight device which is ideally suited for innovative showrooms, modern museums and applications in the retail and entertainment industries.
The @TABLE uses a 42” multi-touch sensor which is fitted with antiglare glass and a printed black border with special icons for rotation and NFC sensors. The custom glass includes sealed joints within the metal chassis which makes the table waterproof. This feature adds to the ruggedness of the device, allowing it to be safely installed in high footfall public spaces, such as restaurants, hotel lobbies or even shopping malls. DISCOVER MORE
Perhaps most vital to the future, widespread use of such devices are the inherent security risks found with any integrated online purchasing. Technologies such as NFC, though capable of improving the speed and ease of the user experience, pose a viable option for hackers and identity thieves and therefore represent a significant security threat.
Case study: The CryptoTouch ETS 6200 module provides industry grade encryption for financial transactions
Methods to address security issues could include increased biometric testing or providing additional layers of security, such as double or triple check systems. Kiosks handling transactions will need to comply with PCI (Payment Card Industry) regulations and standards. Examples can be found in existing products such as CryptoTouch which was co-developed by Zytronic and Danish secure payment specialist Cryptera as an encrypted touch screen identification system that is approved to PCI 3.x, the latest stringent industry security standard. Attempts to break in or hijack the control interface will result in system shut down. CryptoTouch offers cryptographic functions including 3DES, RSA, AES and ECC to ensure the utmost security and customer confidence. DISCOVER MORE.
Steps such as these will help bring retail automation ever close to replicating the experience and personal touch offered by a human salesperson. However where this technology promises to offer greater advantage is in the depth and variety of potential features to boost sales. Touchscreen kiosks do not require lunch breaks, shift changes or annual leave. In the right setting they could provide a 24hr sales assistant who will remember precisely what the customer last purchased, what they have previously browsed, their personal sizes and measurements and as such be able to make accurate recommendations for future purchases.