Retail Asia



Retailers worldwide are turning increasingly to digital point-of-purchase and signage systems to more effectively capture shoppers' interest, which they hope will lead to more sales, reports Suzanne Loh in Singapore.

Shopping centres and retailers, including supermarkets, across Asia are increasingly going digital with their point-of-purchase (POP) and signage solutions, which are taking the form of networked plasma screens and LCD displays.

These systems allow retailers to prominently and effectively display product and other in-store information to shoppers. They can serve as a medium for retailers to execute sales promotions, and inform customers of other activities without incurring the printing costs required by conventional handwritten and printed POP materials.

With retail space at a premium today, these digital solutions provide much needed room for the space-constrained to promote their merchandise.

Some companies offering such solutions in Singapore to meet the POP needs of retailers in the region are WOW Vision Pte Ltd, SYA Media and Open Scrolling Asia, a regional office of Belgium-based Open Scrolling Technology.

Running on wireless connections is WOW Vision’s easy-to-install integrated multimedia display network system. The WOW System, as it is called, allows the retailer to centralise the remote control and dissemination of realtime advertisements and promotional messages to individual or cluster displays in the store.

As there is no need to produce and print POP and signage materials, this system lets the retailer make last-minute price and other information changes, and instantly convey them to shoppers. It also allows information to be scheduled for display on plasma screens up to a year in advance.

The technology also interfaces with the retailer’s other business systems to streamline various store operations such as marketing, point-of-sale and inventory processes.

“Our interactive touch-screen displays can incorporate a barcode scanner to reflect the latest price of an item for the convenience of the sopper, and a coupon printer to generate on-thespot redemption coupons,” says David Ng, vice-president (sales and marketing), WOW Vision.

The resultant efficiency can lower operational costs, allowing retailers to pass on the savings to companies that advertise on their plasma screens.

NTUC FairPrice, a home-grown supermarket chain in Singapore, has installed the WOW System in its FairVision plasma screens. FairPrice started using FairVision plasma screens in 2002, locating them in heaviertraffic areas of its supermarkets to draw shoppers’ attention quickly and effectively to real-time updates on products sold on its shelves.

Using the FairVision plasma displays enables NTUC FairPrice to synergise its efforts in disseminating pricing, product and promotion information instore and through newspaper advertisements. Gerry Lee, general manager (purchase and trading), NTUC FairPrice, says.

FairVision responds directly to the information needs of today’s consumers who are generally better educated, well travelled and more receptive to new IT gadgets.

“FairVision is also a good complement to traditional forms of advertisements, such as TV commercials, as it is animated and able to capture the audience’s attention. Shoppers may decide to buy products on promotion after being informed through FairVision,” adds Lee.

Two other solutions are offered by SYA Media’s Retail Entertainment System. The interactive iMedia- Brochure (iMB) and iBillBoard (iBB) combine specific retail information with general entertainment snapshots and related product/services information.

Quek Ser Yong, managing director of SYA Media, says the contents on the two systems are specially designed and edited to entertain and excite consumers. “The longer we keep consumers on the retail premises with our retail-entertainment solutions, the higher their spending rate in the store,” he explains.

Although retailers require only an electrical power point to run SYA Media’s retail interactive solutions, they need to find the best location for these to achieve maximum results.

The iBB should ideally be sited in high-traffic areas like meeting points and information centres, and even on conspicuous wall columns, recommends Quek.

Operating on the first floor of a building, the iBB can serve as a marketing arm, for example, for a restaurant located on the fifth floor.

“The iBB can display a full interactive menu of the restaurant [to potential] customers, who can navigate it to watch movie clips of the restaurant’s mouth-watering food, chefs at work and happy customers [tucking into their food],” Quek elaborates.

The iMB, on the other hand, takes the form of a small counter/rack-based interactive POP designed to entertain and influence consumer’s buying decision at the very point of purchasing. One of the best places to install this is the consumer-electronics store.

“The iMB in such a store can be designed to contain the full catalogue of a specific manufacturer like Nokia. Besides showing information on the various Nokia mobile-phone models and their key features, the iMB can feature comparisons of these models along with consumer reviews. This will help influence the customer’s decision,” says Quek.

However, it is up to the retailer to make the best use of the iMB and the iBB to entertain, entice and inform its shoppers. “Retailers will need to build interesting content. We do not believe that replaying advertisements over and over will entertain shoppers. Efforts will be needed to pull in the crowd and keep them in,” says Quek.

As for small and medium-sized retailers, the eMotion range of scrollers from Open Scrolling Asia can serve as a cost-effective means to generate revenue.

These scrollers roll out information on multiple products and services within a poster space. The shopper’s eye is drawn to the way the information on display moves or changes fluidly in a top-down manner.

“A large number of retail companies are using our poster spaces as display stands in their stores. Some of them are even generating additional revenue by selling their poster spaces to suppliers, and brands,” says Damien Richards, technical director, Open Scrolling Asia.

Scrolling Asia’s Scrolling Kit is designed for on-site assembly and installation in a new or existing advertising box. The kit frame can be customised to fit easily into boxes ranging in sizes from 0.12sqm-20.25sqm.

The company is setting its sights on fast-growing retail markets like Malaysia and Indonesia. Its system is currently used by large shopping malls in New Zealand and Australia.

At present, large retail chains appear more interested to use digital POP solutions that they can remotely control to convey advertising and promotional messages quickly and effectively to their entire retail network.

“Supermarkets and hypermarkets are early adopters of the systems because of their economy of scale and financial capability. There is also great potential in petrol stations, which today include a convenience store at every outlet,” says Ng of WOW Vision.

However, many digital POP and signage solution providers have observed that the technology has yet to reach smaller retailers as many of them are cost-conscious and not IT-savvy.

At the consumer end, Quek finds Asian shoppers less inclined towards interactive POP, unless incentives are high. Shoppers in their mid-20s and late-30s, however, are an exception, as they have the highest spending power of all age groups and seek to be informed before making their purchases.

Nevertheless, success stories of current users of digital POP and signage solutions suffice to encourage more retailers to apply these solutions. So far, feedback on the WOW System has been positive from users such as NTUC FairPrice and Metro Department Stores in Singapore, and Giant stores in Malaysia.

“Implementing our WOW System has improved the store image, shopper satisfaction and sales for these retailers. More important is the additional revenue generated from advertisement sales,” says Ng.

Intensifying competition among brand owners and retailers in Asia could turn more retailers to digital POP and signage solutions as the answer to improve their sales promotions.