Deploying Digital Signage in Retail
There are a number of reasons why you might be considering switching your signage to digital. When done well, digital signage is a great way to quickly give your business a fresh touch. But beyond a fresh coat of paint, the possibilities enabled by digital signage go much further than skin deep. Having a practical understanding of some of the challenges you will encounter in a signage refresh will allow you to spend more time focusing on the opportunities and less time on implementation.
Why move to digital?
A key driver of digital signage is the ability to be dynamic. Bluntly, traditional print signage is slow and expensive. Menu changes, sales and special offers often need to be agreed upon weeks ahead of time, which then sets in motion a process that can involve numerous employees and partners. Graphics creation, color and design print review and approval, production, distribution to locations and installation of the signs by employees are just a few of the steps in a busy process.
But what happens when I run out of that special item in-store and I want to switch my signs to focus on profitable alternatives? Or one of my partner organizations just hit a wave of good press and I want to feature their products in my store today? These are the kinds of capabilities that will make your marketing, sales and operations teams excited about a digital signage transformation.
When assessing the different options for digital signage platforms, there are specific areas that will require decisions that have long-standing consequences. Each company’s unique requirements will lead down a different path, with no one-size-fits-all winner. Being cognizant of these junction points will help in making the right decisions for your business.
- Is your business primarily looking for corporate signage, menu boards or a hybrid? Most major platforms in the marketplace today lean in one of these two directions, with negative tradeoffs for the other side.
- Do you want to use ‘System on Chip’ (hardware built into your displays) or a dedicated content player? Dedicated players come with increased logistics and expenses while SoC systems can be inconsistent in their updates. If you already have displays in locations, how uniform was your deployment?
- Who will be making the day-to-day updates of the signage? Your internal staff or outsourced to a third party such as the platform provider?
- Is your signage going to be indoor-only, or also outdoor? Certain vendors specifically produce ruggedized and weather resilient solutions.
- How dynamic is your content and how often do you plan to make updates? Weekly updates of static images require a different set of tools than by-the-minute store pricing changes.
- Is it important to you that someone, physically at the location, can make changes via an approval process, or should all updates come from a central unit?
- Updates to your signage content need to be pushed out to stores — what networking, hardware and in-store deployment requirements does your IT team have for consistency and security?
Combinations of all of these decisions lead to the correct combination of platforms, displays and vendors needed for a successful digital signage implementation. However, regardless of up-front planning, you will encounter some challenges when it comes time to deploy and maintain your signage.
When the rubber hits the road
Having a polished digital signage presence in your locations comes with challenges in order to maintain a healthy system. Some things to begin thinking about:
- Deployment and maintenance logistics – You could use an in-house team or find a partner.
- Update cadences – Much like you may have already found in print ads, once you have a pattern established, making weekly updates can be a breeze. But don’t underestimate the effort that you will put into major overhauls such as quarterly theme changes.
- Monitoring – Know when a sign is not working before a store manager is calling to ask questions.
- Dynamic data – Think about what API integrations or data syncs need to be deployed
- Network health – Always use a wired network when possible, but also understand your mitigation strategy for a network outage and how long the network can be down.
Opportunities to delight and maximize profits
By intelligently navigating the waters of digital signage vendors and platforms, retail businesses open up near-endless capabilities as they work towards a polished customer experience geared towards marketing to the one. Many examples of the interesting and revenue-driving ways our customers are using their digital signage are focused on being dynamic.
API-driven signage is being used in a variety of ways in retail. One common path we see is enabling robust dynamic pricing strategies that vary by location as opposed to uniformly printed signage. When coupling this ability with small in-store administration tools, a store or section manager can really be nimble. One way this is being used is in reducing waste: staff on-site can quickly create highly visible sales for items that would otherwise need to be thrown away if not sold quickly. These capabilities reduce loss due to spoilage as well as increase revenue. This is one way we can combine programmatic changes to signage with human intelligence, but we also see different mechanisms being investigated which are autonomous.
Most API-driven signage doesn’t need day-to-day human intervention to cleverly update. Some of our partners are investigating using data from weather APIs into signage. For example, on a cold day, a restaurant could highlight coffee while a hot day can show off a sweet tea. When you begin to think of signage in this flexible manner, the ways you can encourage sales become nearly endless. These kinds of autonomous, data-driven signage opportunities are a focal point for WWT.
An area we are encouraging our clients to experiment with is in AB testing of signage. Most major signage platforms contain a concept called “proof of play.” Proof of play is the ability to collect information about how many times each piece of content has been played, for how long, and at what locations. By tagging content items in such a way that lets our data teams marry up proof of play data with retail sales data, we’re able to conduct experiments to find out how signage is correlating to the changing the way consumers are purchasing.
Our partners can make use of these actionable insights to push sales of higher-margin items to consumers. But beyond sales to end consumers, these insights also become a tool in B2B sales — digital signage can become a kind of premium end cap space for brands to rent signage time on. We see advanced data analytics, proof of play, location data, sales results and a myriad of other sources powering the next generation of signage to consumers in retail.
We’re helping businesses navigate the increasingly complicated world of digital signage. There are many things to consider in order to maximize the output of your investment. WWT’s unique blend of consultancy and execution can help you to successfully undergo digital transformations. If you are interested in beginning a conversation around your digital signage, connect with us today.