Mall wayfinding has seen great advancements over the past few years.
Before the digital revolution, mall wayfinding was little more than backlit boards with static directories that didn’t do much in easily orienting and engaging mall patrons.
Today, wayfinding is multifunctional and interactive with dynamic directories and 3D wayfinding. These advancements aren’t just about employing the latest tech gadgetry – each improvement produces a major bump in both the consumer shopping experience as well as the efficacy of each retailer’s marketing.
Emerging Trends in Mall Wayfinding
The functionality of mall wayfinding signage and kiosks has improved and malls are beginning to understand the value that digital wayfinding technology can provide.
As wayfinding evolves to feature intelligent pathing, user-friendly interfaces, and more accurate locations, mall kiosks are shifting focus from being a logistic resource to becoming a customer outreach tool.
Several noteworthy trends in mall wayfinding include:
- Spatial Awareness: mall wayfinding technology is designed to support a customer’s spatial awareness with the end goal of improving their shopping experience. Combining strategies such as providing location-specific content, mobile integration, and interactive kiosks will keep customers oriented within the mall property. The more information customers have about their location, the more comfortable they’ll feel and the more likely they’ll stick around and spend more money.
- Interactive wayfinding: interactive kiosks give customers some measure of control so they are able to chart their own routes, while at the same time giving retailers a platform for marketing. Kiosks can display dynamic ads, store promotions, and mall events that customers will respond to better since they’re already interacting with the screen.
- Mobile integration: mobile integration with wayfinding is on the rise. It gives customers the option of having a more personalized shopping experience. With mobile integration, shoppers can download content on their smartphones, scan QR codes, and take relevant information with them as they travel through the mall. This personal connectivity gives malls and retailers opportunities to deliver location-specific content such as coupons and alternative routes that take customers on a specific path to purchase.
Mall wayfinding is naturally evolving alongside digital trends shaping the world. With this in mind, it stands to reason that mall wayfinding tech would include another essential outreach component: social media integration.
Social Media Marketing on Signage
Although e-commerce is giving brick-and-mortar a run for its money, physical stores don’t need to worry about boarding up their windows just yet – consumer research shows that over 94% of total retail sales are still generated in brick-and-mortar establishments.
That said, brick-and-mortar retailers still need to stay on the cusp of the digital trends influencing consumer culture. If malls are to compete with online shopping, they must keep pace with the digital strategies that make online channels appealing to customers. This is where social media integration comes into play.
Many digital signage solutions for mall wayfinding include social media hubs linked to a retailer’s social media accounts. These modules might seem like a novelty on the surface, but actually present a powerful marketing channel for retailers.
Consider how a social hub could be leveraged when included in a mall video wall:
- Attention: people are naturally attracted to social media walls and like to be tuned in to what others are saying. The inclusion of a social media feed on a digital screen adds plenty of attention-grabbing value from the get-go.
- Interactivity: social hubs are interactive by nature and they encourage social media engagement in users for a chance to appear on the wall and have their voices heard.
- Advertisement: social walls are ripe for advertisement. Companies can leverage the interactivity and engagement of social walls by blending sponsored content in with organic posts.
Social hubs help businesses reach consumers at the point of purchase in subtle, non-intrusive ways. But aside from the benefits in engagement, brands can use these tools to develop their own personas and by extension, their relationships with customers. Social media provides a unique outlet for social issues, allowing brands to align themselves with lifestyles and promote social issues on their feeds.
As the retail sector continues to grow and brands fight for consumer attention, these competitive differentiators will become even more important to business growth.
Staying Competitive with Signage as Retail Grows
Competitive advantage is essential in any retail enterprise, and this holds true for mall wayfinding as well.
Advanced wayfinding and digital signage are two aspects of the mall infrastructure that can be improved with technology, and as such, quality digital signage providers are using their technology to push the limits of what it means to be “competitive” in the retail sector.
Address Digital Signage Challenges
To stay competitive, retailers need to first address the challenges preventing the growth of the technology they use.
In mall wayfinding and digital signage, challenges can include spaces that were not built with AV functionality in mind. It takes creative thinking to integrate equipment into existing structural conditions that are not optimized for AV.
In addition to creativity, there needs to be proper planning for the digital signage displays to be unobtrusive and blend into their space in a simplistic manner.
This concept also applies to the way content is structured; large format displays in malls are visual feasts, not reading platforms so they need to have balanced text, graphics, and layouts with stopping power. This is important because even though dwell times in malls are high, attention spans are even lower with many channels competing for the customers’ attention.
Engage in Hyperlocal Marketing
Once digital signage is deployed, retailers need to proactively anticipate the needs of their customers. Strategy and not content is what will win over shoppers.
This can be achieved through hyper-local marketing. Hyper-local content such as movie listings, local fuel prices, traffic information, local weather is very relevant to mall customers and supports their shopping experience.
When local ads and coupons are pushed together with such relevant and frequently-updated information, there is increased visibility and retention of the ads and retailers are able to increase foot traffic and multiply profits.
Incorporate Data Analytics
In addition to (and supporting) the hyper-local push, mall wayfinding needs to be powered by performance data and analytics.
Monitoring the customer information of each kiosk user will provide valuable insights into how retailers should structure their communication, marketing, and branding strategies. Research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 83% of professionals feel that more data improves the value of existing services and products, and its application to mall wayfinding and marketing is no exception.
Digital Signage and Mall Wayfinding
Mall wayfinding, like every other aspect of retail, is being enhanced through technology. Well-structured digital signage strategies will become inseparable parts of how malls interact with their users, and ultimately, how these interactions will drive consumers towards purchase.