Attention Retailers! Think about sound as part of the total customer experience

Johan Åkesson

For a retail operation of any kind, one of the most important considerations is enhancing and optimizing the customer experience. From the moment a potential customer steps in a store, to the point where they exit, smart retailers know that every detail counts in making customers happy and encouraging them to do business in a particular location. What they see, feel, smell and sense is critical – and a big part of the experience is what they hear.

That’s right – sound is a major factor in the customer experience, even if it’s a subtle and a not often noticed effect (and sometimes not so subtle: “Store closing in 5 minutes!”). So, more and more retailers are paying much closer attention to what their customers hear throughout their shopping experience.

Networked systems are the way to go

The retail market has recognized the benefits of network scalability and the power of native intelligence in many critical functions such as point of sale machines, electronic displays and security cameras. So why not apply the same benefits to other important operational functions – such as audio?

Network audio systems are intelligent devices, just like IP video cameras, and offer many of the same types of benefits. They come as a complete audio solution in a single unit, including on-board intelligence, equalizer, amplifier, mixer, digital signal processor, microphone, power supply, and loudspeaker, as well as streaming functionality and network connectivity through a PoE port. They also come with built-in SIP support which makes it easy to integrate them with a company’s VoIP telephone system for live announcements. They have open API for integrating into different subsystems, or for having additional functionality running as an app on-board the speaker, making the network audio system future-proof and ready to support additional music streaming solutions.

What are the benefits of an intelligent network audio system?

  •  Installation. Simple because these all-in-one solutions are pre-configured to work and sound great right out of the box. No extra hardware is needed, nor do they require any audio expertise to operate. In addition, an all in one unit means less space and the system also requires less cabling, making the installation very efficient.
  • High quality audio. Intelligent network audio systems are designed to deliver high-quality background music and clear speech announcements. As a networked system, the speakers enable remote health monitoring to make sure they are working and plays music or announcements as it is meant to do.
  • Programmability. A manager can pre-program audio schedules centrally as well as adjust the timing and volume of music and live and pre-recorded voice announcements on the fly.
  • Versatile operating options. The speakers can be addressed and controlled individually or in groups. Through a smart interface, a retailer can send a command to a single speaker or a unified command to multiple units simultaneously. By creating zones to address groups of loudspeakers a retailer can direct different background music, live or pre-recorded announcements or control and change the volume for each unit individually and/or synchronize and pre-schedule music and announcements for different clusters.
  • Multiple audio sources. When it comes to sourcing music, these devices are ideal. Retailers can draw from the speakers’ preinstalled audio player application. They can create and schedule their own MP3 playlists from audio streaming services. Or they can air local playlists that they’ve compiled and stored on an SD card residing within the network audio system.

IP approach allows scalability

Using IP-based technology opens the door to a wide range of possibilities for a sound system. For example, networked audio solutions provide unlimited potential for integrating the sound system with a retailer’s other communications and security systems. For instance, when tied into the store’s surveillance system, video analytics can detect and trigger a pre recorded message through the audio system such as “Help at cash register” before a long line is building up.

Building on the open platform design, third-party developers will be able to create add-on applications that will further increase the functionality and adoption of intelligent network audio systems across businesses for many years to come.

More about Axis audio systems.