It's CES (Consumer Eletronics Show) time, and that means that an editor's email box is filled with news about the products, trends, and technologies that everyone simply must have for the new year. As it turns out, that includes retailers.
When you look over the press releases flying about ahead of CES, two major trends come into focus. Retailers will be able to collect a lot more data on customers (and do more with it), one way they will use that data will be precisely targeted electronic signage. I can hardly wait.
Just in case things weren't getting sufficiently interesting, some of the data that retailers will be collecting will come from the signs themselves. Information on what part of the sign you're looking at, how long you look at it, and whether you interact with it will all be available for analysis and retailer action. And if that last part (about the customer interacting with the sign) comes as any sort of surprise to you, then you haven't been paying attention to the direction of interactive electronic signage.
We know the idea of a sign as a simple printed piece of paper is about as current as a disco beat. Electronic signs can change rapidly to meet shifting demand and conditions. New generations of signs can even respond to input as specific as the information on a registered smartphone or, in the latest iterations, indications of where on a large sign the customer's eyes have come to rest. What the sign (or retail organization) does with that information is where things get truly interesting.
I've already mentioned the idea of tailoring a sign's message to the individual standing in the store. For many retailers, though, the real magic will occur when a customer has agreed to let them have smartphone location information, along with web tracking and other data. With that (and with Facebook page Likes, tweets, and other social media activity), the retailer can begin to paint a very complete picture of customers' preferences and how they act on those preferences. With that picture in place, the retailer can offer products and services that guide customers to purchases in line with their tastes and opinions. That's very powerful.
Performing that kind of analysis is also very power-hungry, which is why retailers are already investing significant money in big-data clusters and in-memory computing for real-time data analysis. If the trends being presented at CES are any indication, the successful retailer of the future will analyze customer behavior and predict purchases in a way that allows it to help consumers form their opinions and make their decisions. It's truly a brave new world on the retail sales floor.
Enterprise Efficiency will be at CES next week looking at retail electronic trends. Where do you think we should focus our attention? What technologies and stories would you like us to cover? There will be live blogging of keynote speeches, videos from the exhibition floor, and analysis of the trends we see in different areas. Let us know what you think about the big trends. The E2 community will be working together in Las Vegas starting Monday evening.