• Friday , 22 October 2021

AV in the shop window

Old-school window dressing still has its place in retail, but it is rapidly being augmented by a range of display technologies that turn the shop window into a dynamic an inspiring representation of a brand or a product. But what of the future? The shop window is often the home of a retailer’s key promotion of the season, and using the latest technology the window display can generate much useful data on the likely outcome of the promotion.
“What most people not in our industry don’t realize is it takes months, and months of planning before a window is installed. Christmas windows are being planned a year in advance – I’m not exaggerating! Stores have to know ahead of time when they will be having “Sales” so the proper signage/banners/displays can be in place. Although this job is a lot about creativity it also takes a lot of organization and planning as well.” [Shopology Project, 2019]

The function of the shop window is changing. The basics of brightness and legibility are increasingly understood. What is still struggling for recognition is the use of the shop window as a provider of information to the retailer and as a means of transacting sales both during and out of hours.

The mall factor

But first, it’s worth considering where shopping takes place today. The travails of the High Street are well documented, with average footfall declining 2.6%. In contrast, footfall in out of town retail parks and malls increased by 1.5%, and the British Retail Consortium expects the divide to increase.

The nature of the environment, mall or High Street has important implications for the AV supplier. In day lit shopping malls, the weather can be critical and impact greatly on the effectiveness of advertising displays, information screens and wayfinding. Similar to airport environments, brightness levels can easily reach up to 5,000 lux and require displays with brightness levels of 2,000cd/m² or above.

In addition, screens are typically placed in protective cabinets which can impact brightness. Average indoor retail stores will have an ambient brightness of 250-1.000 lux which leads to an ideal maximum display brightness of 350-1,600/m². Most retail displays will use big font sizes and picture or video content, so that medium contrast ratio levels are sufficient for ergonomic viewing.

The frontage of a store is the area where the shop owners try to engage customers entering the sales floor and therefore is key for generating revenue. Displays used in this critical area must be convincing, which is a huge challenge under commonly difficult light situations where several thousand lux of ambient light are normal. The highest class of brightness output of 2,000 cd/m² or more and durability is required here.

QSRs and drive-throughs

Customers of quick service restaurants expect fast service and easy to understand menu information. Research has shown that digital signs can reduce customers’ perception of wait times by as much as 40 percent, presumably increasing their satisfaction and revenues per outlet. Due to changing sunlight conditions during day and night it is paramount to have a display that can automatically adjust its brightness in order to provide constant readability.

Lighting conditions notwithstanding, strict governmental laws regulate the maximum brightness of public displays at certain times of the day. and at night. Another important point is that these types of screens are usually placed in protective cabinets which can also impact the brightness and certainly has to be taken into consideration when choosing the right display type. High brightness displays with at least 2,000 cd/ m² are recommended.

With such diversity in operating conditions, heat is a real issue for window signage, especially in multi-screen configurations. In locations particularly prone to externally generated heat sources, defonitely shop front windows, this is detrimental to the performance and life of the display.

To counter this, NEC’s unique advanced heat management system secures efficient heat dissipation to maintain a uniform overall temperature. An industrial-strength, premium-grade panel with additional thermal protection plus internal temperature sensors with automatic fan-based technology protects the display for 24/ 7 operation over its guaranteed long life.

The glare problem

Where displays are located in areas of high ambient light, typically in glass atrium buildings and shop front windows, light is reflected off the surface of glossy screens to greatly reduce the visibility of content. NEC uses an anti-glare panel with a high glaze filter which scatters ambient light rather than reflecting it ensuring excellent visibility even in direct sunlight.

To support the latest in-window smart signage displays, such as the Samsung OMN-D Series, dedicated mounting solutions are available from Peerless-AV that offer retailers and businesses the highest flexibility in terms of space, design and positioning for maximum footfall on both window-facing and indoor-facing sides of the display. These ceiling or floor mount options are easy to install and maintain, with integrated cable management for a clean and tidy appearance.

Peerless-AV has a new, dedicated Floor or Ceiling Mount solution for Samsung ‘s OMN-D Series. The mount supports both 46″ and 55″ Samsung back to back display models and is ideal for high-impact in-window retail and commercial applications with its sleek and stylish aesthetics, minimal footprint and optional custom finish.

The dedicated mount complements the slim design of the dual-display so footprint is kept to a minimum, allowing for placement right up to the window, and the mount verticals are the same size as the back to back displays for a flush finish. Optional custom colour trims can be added to match branding or application settings.

A highly adaptable and versatile solution, the Peerless-AV solution can be used to mount 46″ and 55″ Samsung OMN-D dual-displays from the ceiling or floor mounted. Easy to install and maintain, it also offers integrated cable management for a clean and tidy appearance.

The feedback loop

So, no matter what the environmental conditions, we can address shoppers with targeted, dynamic rich media to position the brand and demonstrate the product, but how does the retailer know who is looking at the display, what is their level of interest and how likely are they  to ito convert their interest to a purchase, especially when the shop is closed?

Westfield’s signage collects data about shoppers and apply statistical analysis to identify audience demographics.

IBM is pitching its Watson AI technology to take multiple customer data sources into an algorithm that creates an accurate all-round view of the customer’s likes characteristics. This is relatively easy when you are dealing with online data, but a whole lot more challenging when analysing data from beacons, monitoring technologies and facial recognition cameras.

The Guardian newspaper carried a report called: “Are you being scanned? How facial recognition technology follows you, even as you shop” which claimed that: “If you shop at Westfield, you’ve probably been scanned and recorded by dozens of hidden cameras built into the centres’ digital advertising billboards.”

“The semi-camouflaged cameras can determine not only your age and gender but your mood, cueing up tailored advertisements within seconds, thanks to facial detection technology.”

“Westfield’s Smartscreen network was developed by the French software firm Quividi back in 2015. Their discreet cameras capture blurry images of shoppers and apply statistical analysis to identify audience demographics. And once the billboards have your attention, they hit record, sharing your reaction with advertisers. Quividi says their billboards can distinguish shoppers’ gender with 90% precision, five categories of mood from “very happy to very unhappy” and customers’ age within a five-year bracket.”

The report goes on to reassure shoppers that the system is designed to generate generic information, such as a shopper’s age and gender. rather than to identify who the customers are. Naturally, there are concerns that this could eventually lead to a dystopian environment and culture, but with appropriate safeguards progress could result in much greater precision and effectiveness in retail advertising and marketing.

Transaction processing

But what about the ultimate commitment by a shopper to a retailer – actually buying goods and parting with money? Ever since the development of the QR code, it has been possible for a shopper to order and pay for goods from a shop window display – even when the shop is closed for the evening.

Touch screens are widely used in retail applications and enable users to streamline processes, reduce manpower and provide better customer service. Retail touch and gesture technology is used to make advertisement more attractive and engaging to the customers. With a single touch, swipe or gestures these displays can provide a world of information to both shopper and retailer, and there is no reason why this facility cannot be incorporated in a window display and integrated in a multi-channel scenario.

The touch and gesture sensors provide a wide range of applications for multiple industry verticals which includes gaming, transportation, POP devices, ATMs, retail signage, media players, personal computers, and laptops. One of the greatest benefits of touchscreens is the intuitive interaction between user and device.

Future trends

Convergence is a key focus within digital signage, with voice and facial recognition analytics, object recognition, AI and AR all under evaluation or being trialled in concept locations. These technologies could potentially drive demand for more powerful, edge-based processing and storage, generating further business opportunities.

According to a report entitled: ‘Retail Touch Screen Display Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2018 – 2026’, the retail touch screen market is undergoing a high degree of innovation. In order to survive in this competitive environment, retailers are looking for new ways to attract and even keep the existing customers.

Some of the major trends in the global retail touch screen display market includes multi touch technology in touchscreen solutions, which is expected to augment the user experience and increase the growth rate of global market during the forecast period to 2026. This is an additional advantage to touch screen technology and the users are getting more attracted to touch screen displays owing to multi touch panel technology.

Emerging technologies

Based on technology the market can be bifurcated into infrared technology, capacitive technology, acoustic technology, resistive technology, optical technology, and embedded technology. Capacitive technology can be further categorized into projected capacitive technology and surface capacitive technology. Acoustic technology can be further divided into dispersive signal touch, surface acoustic, wave acoustic, and pulse recognition. Among all the technology, the capacitive touch technology and resistive touch technology are anticipated to dominate the global retail touch screen display market.

Furthermore, the application segment of global retail touch screen display market can be diversified into banking kiosk, signature capture, self-service outlets, check-in/check-out kiosk, portable devices and point of sale equipment. LG’s Transparent Colour LED film display, first introduced at InfoComm 2018, the revolutionary display has the ability to turn any window or glass surface into a customisable digital canvas. The technology has an exciting future when combined with touch or gesture control. Currently, LED film can display pictures, animation and videos with various colour combinations, making it ideal for indoor and window-facing areas with large glass surfaces such as retail storefront windows.

​Digitising the shop window: LG’s transparent OLED film integrates digital capabilities into the shop window.

Finally, even technologies which don’t immediately come to mind for retail store fronts, like projection, come into their own for subdued lighting environments. At ISE, Epson introduced the EB-U50 signage projector. This is designed to captivate an audience by illuminating and projecting on virtually any surface, the EB-U50 has been designed to be space friendly and unobtrusive. It can be used as a projector or a spotlight, and is ideal for shop window displays, retail showrooms, dynamic or experiential content for digital art, commercial signage, décor, education or corporate presentations. With market set to grow to 2926, the shop window will continue to be the subject of innovation and change.

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