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Retail wayfinding is ready for primetime

September 23, 2020

Retail wayfinding is ready for primetime
Retailers today simply cannot risk losing a sale due to a less than amazing customer experience. The charge is significant when you consider all the various ways a shopping experience can break down and a customer can be lost. Wherever possible, we advise implementing technology to automate processes, empower store staff and engage with customers. Take, for instance, the latest generation of powerful retail wayfinding solutions.

Interactive kiosks provide simple, yet effective wayfinding
One simple, yet effective application involves installing touchscreens/kiosks in strategic store areas. The kiosks allow customers to search the store for specific items or departments and then receive directions to the desired location based on the current position. Some implementations include a printer that will give customers a hard copy of directions, while others may present a QR code that customers can scan to receive the directions on their smartphones. Such solutions are more suited to larger department stores or malls.

Wayfinding apps give power to customers
The next level of wayfinding is getting the functionality directly into the hands of customers. These solutions, available from a variety of third-party software companies, can function as stand-alone apps or integrate with a retailers’ website. Armed with a wayfinding app that uses NFC beacons or Wi-Fi triangulation to accurately determine location, customers can easily find their way from the parking lot to the desired product to the checkout line. Some apps, particularly useful in mall implementations, allow customers to plan their shopping trip in advance and then receive step-by-step instructions to guide their shopping experience.

Augmented reality makes retail wayfinding even easier
Some shoppers have difficulty using maps, staying oriented and following directions in stores with endless aisles that look the same on a small printout or smartphone screen. The latest innovation in wayfinding is incorporating augmented reality (AR) into the wayfinding app to make it even easier for shoppers to navigate. AR makes use of a shoppers’ smartphone camera and location to present shoppers with 3D directional prompts that overlay what the customer is seeing in real time.

Wayfinding opens a door to many possibilities
As we’ve discussed, wayfinding solutions help customers get where they want to go. However, there are ways retailers can adjust them for maximum results. By accounting for best practices in store layouts, endcap displays, the psychology of shopping and the desired customer experience, it’s possible to offer wayfinding solutions that not only get customers from point A to point B, but do so in a way that encourages the discovery of new items, clearance or products complementary to previous purchases by that customer. Obviously, retailers should avoid sending customers on blatantly unnecessary detours just to try to push clearance items, but a soft touch can yield positive results.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that wayfinding solutions shouldn’t be designed and rolled out in a bubble. Interactive kiosks for wayfinding can switch to digital signage advertising mode when not in use. The kiosks can also be used to check product availability and place orders. And NFC beacons for a wayfinding app can be used to push targeted marketing messages to customers enrolled in loyalty programs. In short, all these technologies can integrate in powerful ways to help fulfill the ultimate mission of increasing sales while keeping customers happy. For more advice on retail wayfinding solutions, contact Tom Jones, Ingram Micro’s pro AV expert.