Creating the perfect in-store experience

By Annie Konieczny

Most of us have been to a high-street clothing store during a January sale where you’ve had to navigate racks of clothing of all different sizes as music –  which seemingly has no assimilation with the brand – is blasted into your ears incessantly; there’s no-one anywhere to help with anything except the student working in the fitting rooms who’s too busy anyway negotiating what looks like a whole sweatshop of unwanted try-ons, all strewn with spray tan marks; there are coffee stains on the floor, sticky clothing hangers galore and possibly someone camping in changing room five. It is these nightmarish shopping experiences which have made online outlets so attractive with their slick, visually appealing and eminently convenient user interfaces.

Whilst it’s true that bricks-and-motor businesses are competing with the sheer accessibility of online stores, recent research shows physical stores are still the primary destination for most shoppers. In the National Retail Federation (NRF’s) Winter 2017/2018 Quarter Reviewit was revealed that 21% of shoppers surveyed identified themselves as primarily online shoppers, meaning they bought more than half their purchases online. The remaining 79% said they bought half or less of the items they needed online. When PwC Global first surveyed consumers for their Global Consumer Insights Survey in 2010, they found people were making weekly purchases in physical stores at a rate of just 30% – by 2018, this rate had risen to 44%. Conversely, the survey showed online purchases dropped from 7% over the same period.

According to Retail Dive,the top reason for customers to visit a store is to see, touch, feel and try on items and, whilst these shoppers may make a purchase online later, that buying decision’s birth was in store. The International Council of Shopping Centers(ICSC), an organisation serving the global retail real estate industry, revealed in a similar study that opening a bricks-and-mortar store leads to a 37% average increase in overall traffic to a retailer’s website and grows its share of web traffic within that market by an average of 27%.

The data shows that in order to drive sales, getting customers through a physical door and into a venue space is paramount which also means that creating a unique and appealing experience has never been more important. Here at Qsic, we’ve been creating bespoke in-store experiences for our clients and their customers for the best part of a decade and the nifty methods these innovative businesses employ to make the atmosphere of their spaces truly otherworldly are our bread and butter. Here are a few we love:

  1. Interactivity

One word: McDonald’s.  The burger giant has trailblazed the use of tablets in restaurants which you can now see popping up in venues across the world. The British subsidiary of the global fast-food chain joined forces with enterprise mobility management platform, SOTI, to equip McDonald’s restaurants with Samsung Galaxy tablet devices. Customers can now check their email, scroll through Instagram as well as order and pay for food right from their tables. McDonald’s have created an experience as convenient as an eCommerce one, but in a bricks-and-mortar environment.

  1. Freebies

Tom’s flagship in Venice Beach includes a coffee shop and juice bar, and Waitrose, a UK-based supermarket, offers free coffees to customers with every purchase. Many bookshops have started incorporating cafes into their spaces where customers can read their new purchases or indeed try before they buy. Other venues have given away bunches of flowers for a few hours on Valentine’s Day, held yoga workshops or have given out burgers, all to amplify shopping experiences.

  1. ‘Retailtainment’

Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street in London does ‘retailtainment’ so well. Personal shopping is available free of charge and the store also includes a number of hair and beauty services ranging from brow threading to piercing. The space also includes food and drink pop-ups such as Bubbleology and Lola’s cupcakes as well as state-of-the-art VR games and even a ‘Splash’ experience where the shop’s windows were turned into an interactive pool scene where customer could ride a virtual water slide.

  1. Click-and-collect

Click-and-collect is a service that lets shoppers buy online and pick-up in store. It has taken the world by storm with shoppers and retail owners alike going crazy for it. It’s super convenient for customers and drives traffic through the door – a huge plus for retailers. Research shows that a third of US shoppers chose click and collect over the Christmas 2018 period meaning customers who may have otherwise made purchases online were instead walking through doors and into physical stores. According to the ICSC, 69% of shoppers who went in-store to pick up their orders ended up buying additional items.

  1. Walk Out Shopping

Last but certainly not least, we have Amazon Go, an initiative which is quite literally set to change the way we shop in bricks-and-mortar stores forever. In an Amazon Go convenience store, customers walk in, take the things they want and walk out, all while Amazon Go’s technology analyses everything the customer has taken using a combination of cameras, AI, machine learning and other advanced technologies in order to charge their credit cards correctly; a receipt is then sent to the customer in case he or she wants to double check any purchases. Even changes of mind are accounted for by the technology in store, such as picking something up, deciding against it, and putting it back down – customers will not be charged. All new Amazon Go shoppers need do is download the Amazing Go app and let the magic unfold. The experience takes convenience to a whole new level and feels like walking into the future.

 

 

 

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The most velvety ballads ever made

By Annie Konieczny

On the blog today, a guest post from none other than Qsic’s Head of Content, Todd Watson. Both as a recording artist signed to Neon Records with a string of Top 20 singles and national radio play, and as a DJ enjoying residencies at some of Melbourne’s most prestigious clubs, Todd’s experience of the music scene is unsurpassed. Luckily for Qsic, he has funnelled this experience and passion into a body of work that now makes up the framework of the Qsic content library.

“At Qsic, we could give you a curated list of underground love-fuelled gems in preparation for Valentine’s Day to impress you with our musical chops but, let’s face it, when it comes to Valentine’s Day it’s all about roses, chocolates and the most velvety ballads ever made,” says Todd Watson.

“In respect to the creators of these romantic masterpieces, we have decided to provide the list in no particular order,” he says.

So, here’s his love-fest list that will have hearts exploding.

Al Green – Let’s Stay Together

The Beatles – Something

Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

Brian McKnight – Back At One

Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You

The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody

Barry White- Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby

Boyz II Men – I’ll Make Love To You

Luther Vandross & Diana Ross – Endless Love

H A P P Y   V A L E N T I N E S   D A Y  F R O M   T H E   Q S I C  T E A M

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Qsic offer solution to hairy music-licensing problem

What is now an industry-leading automated and intelligent audio system was, in the beginning, something simpler. Qsic launchedin 2012 on the premise that some business owners playing music in their shops and restaurants would be doing so illegally due to an innocent unawareness of the licensing and copyright regulations involved. Their idea was to offer a legal solution. Fast forward six years – and to a six-figure fine levied on a Melbourne bar – and it looks like their premise was right and their solution more relevant than ever.

According to a study conducted by Nielsen[1]earlier this month, the majority of business owners incorrectly believe that a personal account can be used to play background music in say a café, and only 17 percent of small businesses have the correct licences to play music at all. The study encompassed 5,000 in-store interviews with businesses in the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Spain, Italy, France and Germany and revealed that 83 per cent of businesses are using personal music subscriptions and free music services to play songs in a public setting, costing the global music industry $2.65 billion annually and artists over $100 million a month.

So, how do you get your venue licensed appropriately here in Australia? With great difficulty. Intellectual property law, which creates copyrights to safeguard inventors of music, is a minefield and no exception is made when it comes to playing background music – including radio – in stores, restaurants or other venues constituting a “public performance.” To do it legally, you’ll need to navigate laws regarding mechanical rights which not only grant the licence to copy and distribute music but govern everything from online music streaming to playing CDs, vinyl and even those cassette-tape vestiges in the box under your bed.  If you don’t own the mechanical rights to these devices, you can’t play them.

Where can you buy these rights? You can’t. Not directly anyway – and this is where things get more complicated. Businesses playing background music are required to obtain a licence under the Copyright Act 1968. These range from $80 AUD to over $2,000 AUD annually depending on the size of venue and number of devices used to play the music. Fees are paid to the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) to cover royalties for the composer, publisher and artist and it doesn’t stop there. Music duplication fees must also be paid annually to the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) and Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) via PPCA when copying music onto a smart device, MP3 player or CD.

If this all read like “blah blah blah,” then you’re not alone. Businesses everywhere are up in arms not only about the myriad bodies to which fees are owed and the convoluted pricing structures involved, but because of the lack of guidance – who knew that an APRA licence was necessary when a personal subscription had already been paid? But, as the saying goes, ignorance of the law excuses not and continuing to play personal music in your venue this way will leave you with repeated cease and desist notices at best or –  at worst – a hefty fine as was the case for the owner of Melbourne café-come-bar Hairy Little Sista earlier this month who was ordered to pay a staggering $185,000 AUD for infringements.

In response to the growing concern from businesses, a solution has been proffered by APRA, AMCOS and the PPCA: OneMusic Australia. To paraphrase the website spiel, set to launch in 2019 the combined body will hold more than 140,000 public performance music licences currently held by Australian businesses and will see new licences developed with new fee structures. The aim is to simplify the current model by removing the reporting requirements around the number of devices and different types of spaces used, but overall fees will increase with what appears to be little or no value add.

Cue the QSIC platform, which offers a cost-effective resolution. Not only does the platform keep you on the right side of the law, taking care of all of the above and therefore removing the nuisance from your business administration, but the platform also has the capability to deliver branded curation to subscribers which can be distributed to Australia-wide subsidiaries, giving businesses visibility across their entire network. There are a number of other features for businesses included in the service such as API access, music scheduling, consumer analytics, digital-signage integration, head-office control, audio-advertising functionality, multi-zone audio and much more making Qsic the obvious choice for punters wanting bang for their buck in this messy space.

“It seems obvious that you can’t play Netflix to a large audience but for some reason people don’t apply the same logic to music streaming,” says Matt Elsley, Qsic CEO and Founder.

“Education is necessary but what small businesses want is life to be made easy and that’s at the heart of what we do.

“The case of Hairy Little Sista has been a wake-up call for businesses all over Melbourne and we’re happy to chat to concerned venue owners about their needs,” he says.

Business owners know that music has profound effects on the way customers engage with and enjoy their spaces. What they have been slower to realise is that laws governing playing music in these spaces are complex and purchasing a personal subscription to Spotify or buying a CD to play for your patrons can land you in strife. Who knew an act as seemingly innocuous as a playing “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers could leave you Bay-City-Rolling in a six-figure fine. No doubt, most companies would gladly pay if they knew they were doing something wrong and, hopefully, Hairy Little Sistawill be enough to raise the red flag for businesses wanting to ethically and legally source their music so musicians are getting the money they’re entitled too.

To speak with one of Qsic’s friendly tech team: 1300 113 279

[1]Published on Monday 15 October 2018 by fellow licensing service Soundtrack Your Brand

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Normalisation: fighting the loudness war

Audio normalisation and the loudness wars

There’s a myth that louder music sounds better. And for some people and genres it’s quite possibly true. Yet since the 80s, audio engineers have continually pushed the envelope of just how loud recordings can sound. It’s great if you’re listening to that latest pop album. But when you’re playing a carefully-curated playlist to your customers and the music disappears? Not so good. Let’s take a look at what’s been dubbed the “loudness war”. Continue reading

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