Considerations for retail digital signage deployments

| by Elliot Maras
Considerations for retail digital signage deployments

Digital signage represents one of the most promising technologies for kiosks. Yet the cost remains a prohibitive factor for many companies that potentially have much to gain by improving customer engagement via today's digital capabilities.

While there are costs associated with digital signage, Robert Meiner, Peerless-AV's kiosk business unit manager, said clients need to weigh the costs against the benefits. Costs include the enclosure, a media player, content creation, integration, maintenance and content update.

The ability to change content remotely without incurring costs associated with static signage or printed content makes digital signage more flexible than static signage, Meiner said.

"It's just quicker and easier to change the content," he said. "They can change the content rather than taking down the sign, then putting up the new sign."

"It is a natural progression for the industry," said Richard Ventura, vice president of business development and solutions at NEC Display Solutions. "With the merging of mobile and more omnichannel focus, kiosks and digital signage work hand in hand. Also, the need for more customer engagement will drive more kiosk sales tied with signage."

Consider new revenue streams

As digital advertising becomes more pervasive in retail environments, driven by the evolution of data analytics, so do opportunities for locations to leverage digital advertising revenue.

Integrating web cameras in signage enables companies to collect data about customers and create targeted marketing messages.

"You can collect data where you can understand who your audience is, and actually turn that message around into what it needs to be to attract that customer," Meiner said. "You can measure the effectiveness of your data. Analytics is going to become more powerful. You couldn't do that with static signage."

"As for the end customer embracing it, they are finally seeing that they can increase sales, influence people, provide information such as wayfinding, and enhance their internal employee communications," Meiner said. 

Consider ongoing use

Customers also need to recognize that digital signage provides ongoing benefits. One reason some deployments have not succeeded in the past is because the client did not fully understand the need for ongoing use of the technology, and did not plan their ROI with ongoing use in mind.

There are different ways to measure ROI, Meiner said. One can compare product sales before and after the signage, the amount of repeat sales, and the level of transaction value associated with the signage.

There can also be a labor savings, since interactive signage on the floor reduces the need for staff to answer questions that are now being answered by the interactive signage.

There is a further savings in material costs for flyers, leaflets and printing that are no longer needed.

Critical concern: the content

One of the most important considerations is the signage content.

"Content is king because you need to draw your customers' attention," Meiner said. For content sources, he recommends doing an online search of "kiosk software providers" or "kiosk content creators."

Rick Smith, vice president of technology integration at Acrelec America, said images chosen for digital signage should be bright and crisp.

The area for the screens should be organized and full, Smith said. He suggests a 12-inch screen size for every 10 feet of square footage in a room. The screen should have a viewing angle of 180 degrees so the consumer can see the message from wherever they stand.

As for having motion on the screens, Smith said it should be limited. Otherwise, it is a lot for the customer to absorb.

For retail environments, which are among the leading verticals for digital signage along with hospitality, finding space for digital signage is often challenging, Ventura said.

"Existing retail spaces face the issue of fitting the signage into the existing space," he said. "This can be very complicated and can create design issues. For new spaces, this is much easier to build around."

Where to begin

Customers investing in digital signage for the first time should first consider the hardware, Meiner said. The customer should then determine if they will need connectivity, the type of connectivity and the scheduling software.

"When at all possible, run your data and power cables during construction," Acrelec's Smith said. "Have a dedicated network switch for your signage."

There are numerous resources available for first time users, Meiner said. 

One is Kiosk Marketplace, which Meiner said keeps track of kiosk manufacturers and integrators. There are also trade shows such as Digital Signage Expo and Infocomm.

"A lot of consideration has to be taken into the construction of hardware, the planning, the software, the connectivity, and just the commitment to maintain fresh and relevant content which meets the needs of your shoppers," he said.

"Focus on laying out the objectives and define the plan," Ventura said. "Once this is defined, you can lay out the measurements and definitions of success. Once you define these items, you are able to set what your ROI is."

Image via

Topics: Content, Content Management, Customer Experience, Hardware, Installation / Integration, Retail

Companies: NEC Display Solutions, Acrelec - formerly Hyperactive Technologies, Peerless-AV

Elliot Maras
Elliot Maras is the editor of and

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