The essence of retail has always been how to capitalize on change — whether that’s changing fashion, changing seasons, changing tastes — to provide customers with something attractive and compelling. As such, retailers are among the most versatile business communities and have shown themselves to be open to new ideas and technologies.
Among the challenges facing retailers today are business continuity planning in the event of a future pandemic; leakage, workplace violence and natural disasters and one quickly appreciates the complexity and risk attached to retail. So how should retailers capitalize on change while mitigating the inevitable attendant risk? I think that comes down to the experience.
At the risk of mass-generalization, retail may be broadly split into two realms: Brand, where the emphasis is on a differentiated brand targeted at a specific demographic audience with a limited, curated array of products and commodity, where the product offering is not differentiated and price is the singular driver of the customer buying decision.
In both cases, however, customers have specific expectations of the retail experience. Security and AV professionals can help shape the retail environment and in doing so, can align the experience with expectations for customer — and retail teams.
The facility leader will understand the duality of protecting people and property while ensuring the experience is comfortable, business-enabling and aligned with the brand persona. Addressing the dual challenge, the facility leader will inform and involve diverse constituents from the marketing team to operations department to IT and of course, finance, to ensure their perspectives are being considered and addressed. Doing so usually ensures a more holistic, cost-efficient and effective system.
Advancing the customer experience
At AtlasIED, we work closely with security and AV professionals to understand the challenges of their customers and we design systems for background music and mass notification that advance the customer experience. Quality background music systems featuring playlists that are essentially brand soundtracks have been shown to attract the right demographic — and are equally helpful at repelling the wrong demographic.
From a small store using background music to attract new guests into the shop, to large malls curating an upbeat shopping experience with popular hits, background music is an essential factor to driving the business of new customers, as well as helping ensure long-term customer retention.
Likewise, the aesthetic of a sound system may be used to accentuate a brand persona — big, visually arresting loudspeakers used to create a club vibe — or if done wrong can detract from the retail experience — a club vibe in a high-end furniture store?
Atmospherics are critical to retail success and they include sound, smell and visuals. Music genre has been shown to affect consumer behavior, for example, wine stores that play French music will sell more French wine; those that play Italian music will sell more Italian wine.
Fast music will advance the speed at which customers browse a store and there are many more examples of retailers using sound, video and smell to create an optimal sales environment. Facility leaders understand how to deploy the infrastructure for successful atmospherics but also satisfy the security and mass notification requirements to ensure a safe environment.
Not always front of mind for customers but a major consideration of retailers of all sizes, including owners of malls and shopping centers, is the safety of their customers. Code will dictate much of what they can and cannot do but all retailers will seek to create a safe environment as a must-have for a good retail experience.
Here, the integration of mass notification systems into existing audio infrastructure is an attractive idea and it’s something we emphasize at AtlasIED — whether that is integrating with new or legacy AV systems from AtlasIED or other brands. Scalable, user-intuitive and cost-effective solutions protect, inform and entertain customers and employees alike.
In instances like this music will play to attract guests from the target demographic, limit audio fatigue, help move product but in the case of an emergency, the music will immediately mute and the intelligible notification alerts will play to customers and employees. The system removes the need for employees to turn down the music and provides critical clarity and time when it’s needed most.
Retail is changing
In addition to interoperability with legacy systems, it’s increasingly possible to have sound systems and mass notification systems integrate with digital signage systems. Digital signage is getting better every year with brighter, larger, curvier and more reliable displays and better content.
Retailers are applying digital signage in exciting new ways and so the capacity to integrate mass notification with digital signage presents an opportunity to provide even greater protection to staff and customers in the event of a natural disaster or bad actor event when critical alerts protocol could have the mass notification take over the digital signage system to issue important messaging like shelter in place or evacuate via this exit.
Advanced platforms help protect the retail guest and retail team and are easily upgradable with modular new offerings from AtlasIED or third-parties such as providers of gunshot detection technology that identifies the gunfire and immediately implements alerts and other actions to protect building occupants. Today’s platforms provide additional functionality including an all-call paging intercom for employees to make store-wide announcements.
Technologies like GLOBALCOM provide retail guests with assurance that the retail facility is safe and as such, improve the retail experience. That, in turn, drives foot traffic which improves commercial performance and advances the retailer experience.
At AtlasIED, we work with some of the most demanding retail environments including those for specialized, expensive or dangerous sports equipment and those within secure environments at airports and transportation hubs. We apply this experience to all our systems and offerings so that every retailer has the opportunity to have the best system and their customers and staff have the best experience.
Our commitment to experience also ensures a better experience for AV and security professionals. Systems solutions from one brand means systems integrators have greater interoperability and accountability and can deploy more systems quicker and more reliably than systems built from individual products.
Compare the complexity of deploying a system comprising multiple products from a diverse array of brands; waiting for deliveries; managing inventory and rolling a crew of experts on multiple brands versus having one system from one brand with all the components designed from the ground up to work together. The retailer getting the second system will get the system sooner, it will be operational earlier and it will be inherently more reliable.
Retail is changing and it will continue to change as populations, tastes, technology, trends and media change.
What will never change is that the experience will be central to retail success, that music and media will shape the experience and that safety will be an undercurrent that the best retails will always retain front of mind.
To learn more about AtlasIED and its range of retail solutions, please visit: www.atlasied.com/hospitality-solution
This article was originally published in the July edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.
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