Remember the “electric eye?” For many retail locations, an “electric eye” was used to notice when someone entered the store. For a long time, that was the only data captured about each customer. In cases where a customer went back outside to get their wallet or lock their car door and then re-entered, they were registered twice, so this data collection wasn’t always correct. Such was the state of early data capture solutions.

Capturing Customer Data With Digital Signage

Today, many retail locations feature digital signage — large display screens showcasing different products. Digital signage solutions can also feature videos showing customers how satisfying it could be to own and use these products, whether they’re having fun wearing active clothing, getting the job done using power tools or receiving admiring glances at their jewelry.

Customers often stop at these displays and look at them for extended periods of time. What they may not realize is that while they’re looking at the digital signage display, the digital signage display is looking back at them. These displays can be outfitted with sensors that determine the watcher’s gender, clothing size, approximate weight and more.

At some point, the customer finishes watching the display and moves off to walk around the store. The display notes how long they remained watching. As they move on, they pass other digital displays. Since the first display identified them and created a profile for them, they can now be recognized and tracked as they move about the store. When they stop at another display, the sensors work to refine the profile further, if possible, and again measure how long they keep watching the content being displayed.

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What’s the Big Deal?

It’s easy to assume that the goal is to capture as much personalized information as possible about each customer. If a shopper is carrying a mobile device, sensors can easily be used to determine exactly who they are and build a database of highly personal information. But this would only be a small part of the story, and privacy laws would require the store to disclose this activity before customers encountered the sensors.

The really big deal about interactive digital signage is big data. As opposed to just capturing the entry of a customer into the store location, these sensors are now capturing dozens of data points for each customer, and more from each display they pass or visit. Multiply that by the hundreds or thousands of customers that visit a given retail location in a given day, then multiply that by the number of store locations and finally, by the number of days the stores operate. This means retailers end up with billions of data points in a very short time — meaning big data is automatically integrated into the modern enterprise.

Benefits of Data Capture Solutions

For retailers, data can mean the difference between success and failure. Knowing how many customers visit a store each day is only a first clue as to whether or not that store should continue operating.

Knowing the traffic patterns of how customers move about the store informs store layout, planograms, product placement, digital signage innovations and much more. Learning the stopping times at different digital displays across many customers helps identify those product sets that are popular and attractive in a given store location. Knowing visitor demographic information can potentially help inform inventory or purchasing decisions.

Turning a Great Opportunity Into Two

For Samsung resellers, selling digital signage creates two very sizable opportunities. The first is design, deployment and programming, which includes on-site installation, networking and more. Beyond that lies the opportunity to create a highly valuable information resource for your retail customers by designing and deploying big data management and data capture solutions to store and analyze all of the data points gathered by the digital displays. This will ultimately provide key strategic answers that will help retailers improve their revenue and their profitability.

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Howard M. Cohen

Senior Resultant Howard M. Cohen is a 30+ year executive veteran of the Information Technology industry who continues his commitment to the channel as writer, presenter, and advisor to many channel partners, ISVs, MSPs, CSPs, manufacturers, distributors and more. Howard is a frequent speaker at IT industry events that include Microsoft's WorldWide Partner Conference, Citrix Synergy/Summit, ConnectWise IT Nation, ChannelPro Forums, Cloud Partners Summit, MicroCorp One-On-One, and CompTIA ChannelCon.

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