By Jason Cremins, Founder CEO. Signagelive.
When you think of potential markets for digital signage, retail is one of the first if not the first vertical that comes to mind for many.
Having been involved in digital signage in one form or another since 1994, when laser disc players and £2000 PCs were used to power £10,000 42” Plasma displays, I have witnessed a considerable change in the digital signage technology that has been used in retail.
One thing that has not changed is that retailers have always had a requirement to communicate with their customers, in a visually appealing way, that entices them to purchase a latest offer or try on this season’s latest wardrobe. This is where retailers turn to digital signage as a possible alternative to printed posters and shelf barkers, only to struggle with building a business case internally, due to the costs associated with buying, deploying and maintaining a digital signage network – and keeping the content fresh and relevant to customers.
Due to the historic costs of digital signage for retailers, mass uptake has been limited. High-end fashion brands such as Burberry and Belstaff are looking to digital signage to create ‘retail theatre’ while Fast Food Chains are replacing light-boxes with digital menu boards. Whilst many retailers have dabbled with digital signage for their high-profile stores, very few have rolled-out across their estate.
But things are changing and fast; a ‘perfect storm’ of price, technology and disruption is accelerating the uptake of digital signage in retail. Let’s take a look at a few of the areas that are driving the adoption of digital signage in retail:
One of the biggest barriers to the uptake of digital signage in retail has been the cost and being able to demonstrate a return on investment that does not rely on speculative advertising and sponsorship income.
The price of displays continues to fall and while this is a considerable factor in digital signage now being more affordable for retailers than ever, a key driver in the reduction of costs has been the rise of low-cost non-PC (and no-PC player )technology, coupled with cloud-based digital signage solutions.
Non-PC technology such as Linux and Android have more than halved the cost of a digital signage player, whilst no-PC smart displays incorporating System on Chip technology from Samsung, LG, Sony and others has eliminated the cost of a player all together – while still delivering the functionality and performance demanded for store-wide retail digital signage solutions.
In addition, non-PC and smart display technology have less parts to go wrong and use less power; further reducing the cost of ongoing maintenance and the running costs of a retail digital signage network.
Ease of installation
Displays, players, extenders, cables and networking all come together to deliver a retail digital signage solution. The latest generation of non-PC devices and smart displays deliver true ‘plug and play’ digital signage solutions, eliminating the complexity of installation and maintenance.
In a recent project for a retailer, the ease of installation enabled them to utilise their EPOS maintenance team to deploy their digital signage network, eliminating the cost of appointing a third party installer.
We have all read articles of ‘show rooming’ (see Marketing on P14) where savvy shoppers gain information in-store, before checking the online price on their mobile device and if cheaper, ordering from a competitor.
Digital signage is helping retailers to provide the latest pricing and product information, instantly reacting to online competition. In addition, local proximity technology such as iBeacon (Apple) and AltBeacon (Android), when combined with digital signage, can turn a scheduled playlist of content into targeted and responsive media, tailored to the shopper at the ‘point of decision’ in a store.
We are also seeing retailers turn their in-window displays over to passers-by at night, allowing them to interact with the display using their mobile phone and change the content being shown.
Furthermore, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook enable retailers and their customers to communicate in a way that no other medium could ever achieve. Retailers monitor their product mentions on Twitter and those who ‘get’ social media, respond quickly to complainants and turn negative tweeters into brand ambassadors through positive actions.
Retailers who understand the power of social media are looking at ways in which they can engage customers in-store, and not just by adding their twitter name or hashtag to the shop window graphics.
We have recently delivered a project for Superdrug, allowing customers to interact with an iPad in-store and turn a portrait videowall of scheduled content into a catwalk -complete with lighting effects, sound and a HD camera. After an on-screen countdown the customer walks the catwalk for 5 seconds and is prompted to review their performance on the iPad.
Once they have reviewed their performance they can login to their Facebook account and post the video to their timeline, complete with the hashtag #treatyourselfie and Superdrug intro and outro added to the video. The solution will be extended to support Twitter and Vine after the initial trial project has been completed.
The Superdrug project is a great example of how retailers are combining digital signage and social media to create customer engagement in-store and combine their online and offline retail experience.
With costs reduced, installation made easier and mobile and social media integrated; how do retailers make sense of the data they are gathering from their digital signage networks and the interaction with customers? How do they optimise the media they are displaying and ensure it remains relevant to their customers based on the data they are capturing in each store?
Digital signage, combined with EPOS data, mobile proximity and viewer information captured from solutions such as Quividi enable retailers to build ‘big data’ sets, which when analysed and trends spotted allow content strategy to be tailored and optimised. But how can you react to trends and produce and publish digital signage content in a timely, cost effective manner?
Several retailers are automating the production of content to achieve the dynamic update of displays based on the data they are gathering and analysing. Typically, a retailer will have the required data within their business, or possibly their print suppliers business, to enable automation of content using templates, product data and store information. The resulting ‘digital media engine’ greatly reduces the costs of manual content creation and further demonstrates the ROI achievable from the use of digital signage in retail.
The opportunity for AV and IT resellers to deliver digital signage solutions for retailers has never been better. However, with the price of hardware falling by the month, if not the week. Resellers need to consider how they align their offering with the current and future requirements of retailers, as they, in turn, seek to justify how they can deploy a digital signage network throughout their stores.
Hopefully, the examples and experiences covered in this article will provide assistance as you target and unlock opportunities for digital signage in retail.