How have the new realities imposed by the pandemic affected the digital signage industry? What new opportunities has it created?

By Beth Warren

SVP Marketing and Retail Practice – Creative Realities Inc. and Board Member of

While lock downs from the global pandemic has upended our world as we once loved it – the technology acceleration to help keep our lives connected, commercial, and convenient has been nothing short of remarkable.  Habits that should have taken a decade to acquire have now become our new normal – or as I recently heard the term ‘ANOTHER’ normal – so as to not suggest a total break from the past has occurred.

The fusion of on and offline, the fluidity of shopping across environments and platforms, as well as digital-first brands dominating the landscape are trends that have only accelerated and here to stay – inspiring our options, our shopping carts, our pantries and closets in new and innovative ways.

Here are the technologies / digital experiences that have staying power, and ones to watch explode in 2021

  1. Click and Collect. 

Also known as BOPIS [Buy on-Line Pick Up Instore or Curbside] is an experience that is here to stay. Why go inside when your items can come directly to your car?  My prediction: Uber expands from Eats to Shops for this very purpose.

  • Virtual Sales Associates

Don’t get me wrong, this is not Robots or Screens doing the job of humans, but Humans delivering the Service experience through virtual technology to bridge the gaps between in-store and home. Much like Verizon has done to redeploy their in-store staff to handle sales appointments via FaceTime – or Beauty and Fashion retailers are currently doing with Virtual Stylists, In-home shopping appointments, and Augmented Reality. Again, why go out when the store experience can come to my home.  My prediction: Sales Associates will deliver wardrobe options to try on at home, to capitalize on what we miss most about Retail: The physical, tactile, and try on experience.

  • Predictive Digital Signage

Gone are the days of video walls that replay the same content on continuous loop. The best news for digital integrated to environments is the ability for triggers depending on business rules like occupancy, gender, weather, and other AI that can sense who is front of the screen and can present personalized merchandising and content that is contextual, meaningful, and will inspire behavior in the here and now. My prediction:  Frictionless, Voice, and gesture based triggers will take digital signage to the next level of intelligence.

We can never replace the lives and livelihoods lost in such epic proportions, but at least technology advancements can make the things we want and need easier to grab and go – at the tap of a button or command of our voice.  After all, marketing technology is about keeping Emotional Intelligence at the core of solving real pain points today, and for months to come.