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The Truth About Retail Case Studies

Dina Townsend | Retail | 2017-11-28

The following article is a part of our blog series, REAL Retail. Real stories from real people in retail. Whether it’s the elephant in the room or a highly relatable story, our authors who have direct, real-life retail experience, like to dive in head first. 

In our last REAL Retail Series article, we took an honest look at the common desire to have a stated digital signage ROI; and we acknowledged that ROI is an independent achievement and not a one-size-fits-all objective. In this installment, we will explore the relevance of case studies, how to ask providers for them, how to use them and what not to expect from them.

Unique Retail Experiences vs. Boxed-In Case Studies

Brands are under pressure to communicate in unique and impactful ways with consumers to direct their behaviors, win their favor and earn their loyalty. If that is true, then speaking to your customer in the same way your competitors do will not work anymore. It will not allow you to stand out or be remembered; so, we need to speak to them differently. Why then do we ask our solution providers for examples of work they have done for others like us and expect experiences that resemble those we are considering?

Over the years, many times, I have been asked to provide case studies demonstrating that I have done similar projects for other retail brands. Don’t misunderstand. I love good case studies. I love executing the projects behind them, and in an industry ruled by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), I especially love when a client allows them! That said, case studies of similarly deployed projects should no longer be the ask.

How to Gauge a Provider’s Aptitude

Today, brands should ask technologists to provide case studies across multiple sectors that demonstrate an aptitude to use technology for the achievement of a client’s goals. Varied sectors inform innovative projects. Global deployments show trends that may not have hit our market and may be more forward thinking. These out of the box examples spur ideation and prove an ability to innovate beyond the mundane.

Brands should ask to see examples of deployments that demonstrate scale and integration competency because the new retail experiences need to be unique. In fact, as a brand, I would want to know that you do not have examples that show my same type of experience for another brand, rather that you can concept, build and deploy my vision.

Brand Identity Crisis

Years ago, industry friends and I would walk the streets of New York City and guess the providers behind each digital deployment. How was this possible? Because they all looked distinctly like the software provider’s approach or templates rather than the brand’s identity. Technology has evolved and this game is no longer as easy as it once was. However, brands and their need for use cases have not evolved in step.

Extensibility Is Key

Technology is much more extensible than it once was, and brilliant retail deployments often rely on that extensibility. In fact, impactful retail deployments that move customers to action, achieve stated goals, and make lasting impressions generally require integration with other solution sets. To be affordable and quicker to market, extensibility demands ease of integration. The fantastic is always possible, but with slimmer margins in retail and with audiences shifting business on line, the fantastic also must be cost effective.

Case studies are still a smart way to visualize outcomes and to understand a solution provider’s portfolio, but, the goal of seeing case studies should be to demonstrate that your provider of choice has the talent, resources and platform to imagine, build and deploy unique, extensible and collaborative in-store magic!

Read our previous article in the REAL Retail series: The Frictionless Customer Journey.

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