Articles and Whitepapers
DSF Members are invited to submit articles and whitepapers to be posted in this section. Submit your article here.
By Alan C. Brawn, CTS, DSCE, ISF-C
February 11, 2019
Depending on who you ask (factor in how long they have been around), digital signage as we know it came on the scene just after the turn of the century. For some of us, that seems like last week… but I digress. It began as an advertising medium, and this focus is easily demonstrated by the first iteration of the digital signage trade show, the Digital Retail Expo. A new vision of advertising opportunities was coincident with the development of flat panel displays and compact video projection. From the beginning, it just made sense to change out the time-honored static signs with something more dynamic and more noticeable, that would draw attention from the shoppers passing by. One of my favorite phrases is appropriate in this situation… “when applications, technology, and prices converge, an opportunity is created”. And so, it has been from the beginning with digital signage.
As it has evolved, digital signage has broken free of the limitations of being used primarily as a vehicle for advertising. As early adopters experienced the proverbial “arrows in their backs,” it has now become mainstream, and a central focus of the converged commercial AV, IT, and content creator communities. It crosses over the boundaries of retail, food service, corporate communication, education, healthcare, entertainment and transportation to name just a few areas of concentration. It has become a very effective and pervasive multi-purpose communication methodology.
Digital signage continues to be one of the most exciting and fastest-growing industries with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) tripling that of the U.S. economy. It has far-reaching implications and opens expansive new opportunities and markets for consultants, systems designers, resellers/integrators, content creators, and end users alike. From the obvious “explosion” of the retail signage market, to the unique applications for venues such as corporate communication and wayfinding, to education and transportation and healthcare, digital signage cannot be ignored. In short, the opportunities within digital signage are very significant and simply waiting for further discoveries and developments.
The problem we have faced from the very beginning is that, on the surface, digital signage appears quite simple… but therein lays the set of challenges. As our Brawn Consulting Director of Business Development Dave Haar opines, “Unlike any other application of technology, the answer to any question in digital signage that you or your customers may ask is that ‘it depends.’” He goes on to explain that it depends on where you’re placing the screens, where the players are located, how many screens you will have, what the content is on the screens, what you want your messaging to do, how big the screens need to be, how often they need to be updated and who is doing the updating, how many content streams you have, how long the loops need to be, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
He rightfully points out (to all willing to listen) that having a fundamental knowledge of what is involved in creating a digital signage network is imperative to intelligently and accurately ask and respond to these questions. This applies whether you are putting one screen in a lobby or 10,000 screens enterprise wide into a QSR chain, nationwide financial institution, or large corporation. Of course, this begs the question of what to do and how to gain the knowledge necessary to answer and expand on that simple statement of “it all depends.”
Many companies understand certain parts of the equation from a technology perspective, be it displays, networks, or content. But even today, few understand the totality of what digital signage encompasses. To truly participate and succeed in the vision of this space, a company must understand all the disparate parts that make up the scale and scope of a digital signage network, from hardware and software to content and analytics. They must also understand how to properly convey the value (ROI and ROO) in those networks to the constituency of the industry, and most of all, to end users.
Everyone needs to begin with the fundamentals. This prevents overlooking any of the critical elements along the way that are common to every digital signage project. The obvious is just that, obvious… but this single word becomes a limitation and an enabler of the misconception that digital signage is simple. It will come as no surprise that I am not a believer in the plug and play, digital signage-in-a-box dream. What comes to mind is a product that is supposed to be a universal fit that, in use, never seems to fit what you need it to fit. Consider that a Swiss Army Knife may contain many tools, but are they the best version of that tool? It is always much more complex than this, and without a fundamental knowledge and understanding of how it all works together, the dream can become a nightmare.
To address the growing need in the industry for knowledge that would encompass the fundamentals in an impartial, agnostic, and vendor-neutral manner, the Digital Signage Experts Group (DSEG) was formed almost 10 years ago. The goal was (and still is) to provide industry-recognized education and certifications, ultimately establishing professional credentials for the constituencies who ply the craft. The search for, and attainment of, knowledge had to begin with proven and agreed-upon elements that affect all that we do, and hopefully provide those in an ordered manner.
In concert with the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) and the Digital Signage Federation (DSF), DSEG introduced the 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage as a set of fundamental truths. To explain the concept and objectives, compare it to the laws of physics in science. These fundamental laws permeate scientific thinking as a point of reference and are used as a stepping stone for further advances and developments. The 7 Key Elements is an easy-to-use reference tool intended as an umbrella of categories and concepts that are necessary to consider in every digital signage project, whether it is a single display application in a local school or a multi-thousand screen rollout for a major fast food chain.
This begs the question as to the status of the 7 Key Elements, since the industry has evolved and expanded over the years since inception. Does it follow the correlation to the scientific laws of physics concept? The answer is yes, but….
It did not take long to understand that the original order of the 7 Key Elements was, shall we say, out of order. We originally began with hardware, then software, etc. Refer to the earlier comment on the pitfalls of simplicity and stating the obvious. Credit here goes to the DSF and the past Chairman Phil Cohen. In his iconic, gravelly voice, he pointed out that the original model was wrong… it all starts and ends with business. He would warn us that “If we don’t have a good business model, then we have nothing … and will not survive”. He spoke with a lot of credibility as the CEO of what was then the largest healthcare digital signage network.
About the Author:
Alan Brawn is a former Chairman of the DSF and is currently Principal of Brawn Consulting and a director of the Digital Signage Experts Group.
signageOS to Introduce signageOS Open
signageOS Open provides CMS companies with the ability to integrate any smart display or media player type at no cost.
signageOS Open will be offered for free and separately from the signageOS Platform. CMS companies can now utilize this single API as the base for device integrations and build on top of this using their unique CMS features. signageOS offers this foundation to CMS companies for free in order to remove hardware and software compatibility issues that plague the digital signage industry.
“After years of development, testing, and maintenance for each platform, signageOS has mastered the standardization of digital signage smart display and media player integrations. This extensive knowledge base and technology is the foundation of signageOS Open.” says Michael Zabka, CTO, signageOS.
“So far the only gateway to signageOS technology was through the signageOS Cloud Platform and the REST API for device management, which we felt like was limiting the outreach and potential positive impact signageOS can have on the industry. With signageOS Open and the newly introduced JS API for device management, anyone can now use a part of the signageOS technology for free to start building great digital signage projects with SoC displays or players quickly and at a fraction of the cost compared to doing everything from scratch on their own.” says Stan Richter, CEO, signageOS.
For more information, visit signageOS at ISE in Amsterdam booth #8-N410 or at www.signageos.io.
signageOS Open will serve as the entry point for content management system companies to see into what signageOS has to offer. Using signageOS Open is free if a connection is maintained to the licensing server. Also, if desired by the CMS company the connection can be removed for a one time fee per device or the services can be upgraded to utilize the full feature set of the signageOS Platform.
signageOS Open’s beneﬁts include:
- One standardized JS API for management of the various device types
- (see complete list here: https://www.signageos.io/supported-devices/)
- Access to signageOS Documentation and extensive knowledge base
- Standalone solution – No cloud dependency
- Simple and immediate access to every SoC platform
- Supports on-premise and ofﬂine deployments
- Possibility to leverage single code base across different HW
- Optional paid support
- Optional paid device recovery
- Optional customizations
signageOS will continue to develop and offer its cloud-based services as an add-on, on top of signageOS Open to provide highly relevant services and features. Those include services like out-of-box cloud-solution tailored for digital signage, customizations, support, maintenance and features like automated scaling, synchronized video wall, monitoring, reporting, alerting etc.
“Offering signageOS Open to anyone at no cost is an expression of our conﬁdence in this technology. This is unlike anything on the market. Every level within the digital signage industry including end-users, display manufacturers, and CMS companies will greatly beneﬁt from this service as the SoC displays and external media players will become so much easier to work with and deploy. On top of that, it will remove the continuing concern of being married to a single solution for good” adds Stan Richter.
“To date, the feedback from our partners, including CMS companies, integrators and recognized display manufacturers on the news of releasing signageOS Open was so great, that we truly believe that signageOS Open will revolutionize the process of integrating digital signage displays and media players to become an industry standard for digital signage hardware/software communication as it removes so much of the burden at every level.” further comments Stan Richter.
signageOS Open is currently available for selected partner CMS providers and will begin accepting next batch of early adopter sign-ups at the ﬂoor of ISE 2019 at the signageOS booth #8-N410.
For more information, visit signageOS at ISE in Amsterdam booth #8-N410 or at www.signageos.io
For most digital signage buyers, keeping costs down is a top priority. Arguably, getting the right support for a digital signage installation, is a higher priority. With jobs, yours included, potentially riding on the success of your digital signage installation, here’s why the right support matters more than you think…
When you invest in digital signage, you’re not only investing in screens, media players and software, you’re investing in the expertise and support of your digital signage vendor.
High-spec technologies and increasing demand for digital signage installations in evermore challenging locations, mean that getting a digital signage network up and running is seldom a do-it-yourself project…
What does the right support look like?
…With that in mind, there’s an increasing expectation among digital signage buyers that vendors will not only identify the right solution for their needs, but they will provide an installation and long-term support service.
To ensure that you’re getting the right support for your digital signage installation, use this checklist for guidance on what to look for from an ideal vendor:
- The vendor has been in business for a good number of years… A key indicator that a digital signage vendor can provide the support you need, is the length of time they’ve been in the digital signage industry. If the vendor has staying power in a hugely competitive market, it’s a sign that they provide solid customer support.
- The vendor has an extensive customer list and case studies… A vendor with a good mix of customers (big brand names and smaller enterprises), is an indicator that they can provide support for any project, showing their versatility. Meanwhile, case studies showcase their work and evidence of the support they provide.
- The vendor finds a solution to fit customer needs, rather than a solution that generates more revenue for them… A vendor that has a track record of successful installations, shows that they support customers by delivering a solution that fits the project rather than their profits.
- The vendor advises on user-friendly hardware… Installing a digital signage network you don’t know how to operate leaves you at a loose end. Vendors who advise user-friendly screens, media players and software, indicates that they have long-term usability in mind.
- The vendor offers an installation service… For a professional fit and finish, a digital signage vendor that offers an installation service saves you time and money, reducing the risk of accidental damage or a poor installation that affects usability and functionality.
- The vendor meets deadlines… A digital signage vendor that meets deadlines consistently, shows that they’re committed to helping customers deliver projects on time, and working with them to create a realistic timeline.
- The vendor provides training… Once installed, the digital signage vendor provides full training on how to configure and operate the hardware and software installed. This is a sign that the vendor is committed to supporting customers with using technology they’re unfamiliar with.
- The vendor provides guarantees and warranties… A vendor that offers long-term warranties and guarantees, shows that they are committed to supporting customers if something goes wrong.
- The vendor provides ongoing, after-sales support… A vendor that provides ongoing, after-sales support, highlights that they’re committed to supporting customers long-term. The hallmark of a reliable digital signage vendor is the number of loyal customers they have, which highlights that they have a strong support service
Digital signage vendors who meet these criteria are setting the benchmark for customer support and service. Vendors of this calibre tend to make digital signage installations, seamless, offering a consultative service that keeps you in the loop and ensuring that you get the help you need before, during and after installation.
Article provided by Daniel Waldron for Armagard.
Armagard is a market leader in the design and manufacture of innovative environmental enclosures for outdoor digital signage hardware. With more than 25 years of experience, we work with some of the largest manufacturers and retailers in the world.
Armagard’s experienced team of design engineers and product specialists deliver stand out service, helping you to find a digital signage solution that is right for your application – giving you peace of mind before you purchase.
DSF has a long standing partner relationship with DigitalSignagePulse.com – the DOOH industry’s global news monitor.
As part of the benefits of this partnership, DSF has negotiated a “buy one get 2 free” deal for its members who wish to place their classified ads (listings) of products and services on DOOH Marketplace section of Digital Signage Pulse: https://digitalsignagepulse.com/marketplace/ .
Members may use this incentive to place up to three listings for the price of one. These listings may be used in each or any category (Company, Products, Services, Events, Jobs, etc.). Once your have placed one paid and 2 free listings, you can repeat the deal as many times as you need.
If you’d like to take advantage of this benefit, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “DOOH Marketplace listing for DSF Member YOUR COMPANY NAME.” Your membership will be verified upon your request. Once approved you will receive instructions on how to place your listings with the “buy 1 get 2 free” deal.”
Selling into Government Projects is No Easy Task
Jeff Hastings, CEO, BrightSign
Security is a growing concern for any customer considering a digital signage roll-out. This holds especially true in government projects, where security regulations are much more stringent than in the private sector. Selling into government accounts is a rigorous process, especially when you consider the large number of government agencies and the often-complicated process of being cleared to sell into those agencies.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) plays an important role in IT security across all government organizations. DISA-certified products undergo a rigorous testing & evaluation process and are pre-approved for sale into many government agencies.
Above all else, the government expects hardware security to be infallible. For example, when any piece of hardware is added to a government network, it is critical that the hardware itself is 100% locked down until prompted by a systems administrator. BrightSign players are among a minority of players that can be configured to await instructions on how, when and IF the player connects to the internet. This is a critical aspect of security within government applications.
Another important consideration when scoping out hardware for government projects is the likelihood of a particular piece of hardware being hacked and used to distribute nefarious content or, even worse, used to invade privacy, cripple businesses or endanger lives. Any device connected over a network is at risk of being breached or corrupted, therefore it’s important to specify a player running a commercial grade, purpose-built operating system. Signage networks running consumer operating systems such as Windows and Android are constantly being attacked by hackers and incapable of being “locked down” the same way a network of BrightSign players running the BrightSign OS can.
The TAA (the Trade Agreements Act of Congress) imposes additional requirements for federal government purchases. BrightSign is proud to offer both DISA and TAA compliant products.
Selling into government agencies is difficult, and very few digital signage solutions – especially PC-based and Android solutions – meet the standards set by DISA and other regulatory bodies. And while the scenarios described above pertain to government projects, similar network vulnerabilities exist in virtually any internet-connected signage network – worthwhile information to consider when scoping out your next digital signage installation.
Almo Professional AV, a commercial audio/visual distributor, recently expanded its headquarters to support its growth. Much of that growth has come from the hospitality segment.
In fact, hospitality has consistently been one of Almo’s fastest-growing verticals, catalyzed by its acquisition of IAVI in 2016.
“The acquisition essentially doubled our hospitality business and it was the perfect opportunity to combine our strengths in specialized sales, business development and leadership with the goal of expanding the opportunity beyond the guest room TV. We’ve expanded our offerings from primarily in-room entertainment to include guest comfort and conveniences; banquet and meeting spaces; guest experience and revenue drivers; and indoor/outdoor furniture and recreation,” said Apryl Lamberti, Almo’s director of Business Development.
Almo Corporation is the largest independently-owned appliance distributor in the country and has extensive relationships with appliance manufacturers. She said the hospitality division is “breaking the mold” between Almo’s traditional appliance dealers and professional AV dealers and integrators by “cross-pollinating its offerings and infusing hospitality-focused lines.”
The company saw an opportunity in hospitality because of wireless charging and travelers’ reliance on mobile devices and keeping them charged. Almo just entered an exclusive distribution partnership with Nonstop, a new-to-market brand that uses the Qi-Wireless charging platform for its modern, designer-like alarm clocks/charge pads, for example.
“Also, outdoor hotel areas are big. More attention is being spent on designing these areas to be an extension of the hotel and resort’s common spaces, which results in creating memorable guest experiences that help drive loyalty rates,” Lamberti said.
Interestingly, outdoor living has been one of the biggest areas of growth for Almo. The company is also getting ready to launch a commercial contract line of outdoor furniture that will be exclusively distributed by Almo Hospitality.
“For example, last year I stayed at a Renaissance property in Austin. This property was surrounded by plush and rolling landscape and its outdoor area was aptly named ‘The Treehouse’ as it was positioned right among a massive oak tree canopy. This balcony had plenty of outdoor seating: sofas, high-top dining tables, plus an oversized built-in fire pit. Two nights in a row after dinner I checked out The Treehouse and was pleasantly surprised by no less than 10 to 12 hotel guests, none of whom knew each other but who had guitars. I watched complete strangers join together singing folk songs, in The Live Music Capitol of the World. It has been more than a year since I stayed at this property but when I make it back to Austin, you can bet this is where I will book,” Lamberti said.
This example, she adds, underscores why properties that create environments utilizing their actual environments are successful.
“Environments that utilize the surrounding landscape or ways to feature some outdoor fire tables, fountains, lighting, audio, etc. to create spaces unique to that property with a local flair to make a memory sticks with the guest long after they’ve left the property. They are also more likely to write a positive guest review or share their experience on social media, which is a win for the hotel,” she said.
Looking ahead, Jim Nista, senior director of Content Creation Services, said wayfinding, event listings and “go boards” are the biggest opportunities for digital signage in the hospitality segment.
“We frequently get requests for dynamic event screens showing a facility map so guests can find their way to meeting and event spaces,” he said. “For go boards, we do still get requests for local amenities content – although this is decreasing more and more as local businesses change and guests are used to using apps on their phone for recommendations.”
In the hospitality space, the king of content is premise event listings with dynamic maps showing each available room, Nista said.
Almo is currently working on a few case studies with its reseller partners to highlight some of the trends the company is seeing for in-room entertainment and digital signage.
Looking ahead, Nista predicts automation to emerge as a bigger theme in digital signage.
“Automated or easy to update hyper local content is what we get frequent requests for. Guests require relevant local content on information screens – this needs to be easy to update or automatically feed in from data services,” he said.
Lamberti adds that the opportunities are strong for the company and the industry in general.
“In the past 15 or so years, hotels have typically trailed behind the changing consumer market when it comes to technology updates,” she said. “It’s always surprising to me when I hear how many properties are still piping in standard definition content for free-to-guest channels in the guest rooms. From what we’ve seen in the market, the time is ripe for professional AV companies and hospitality-specialized resellers to invest in supporting the specific needs of hoteliers and understanding what their motivations are compared to a typical retailer.”
The time for trailing behind, however, has to come to an end, she adds. AVIXA recently predicted that $3.1 billion will be spent in digital signage in 2019 and consumers interacting with screens is a regularity now.
“The reality has hit and for the last decade, hotels have relied on interior designers to create environments that captivate guests using color, décor, lighting, textures and other elements of design. However, with the speed at which technology changes, and with how advanced consumers have become, it’s no longer an option for hotels to count on traditional methods of interior design to give guests the feeling of technology incorporated into their world,” Lamberti said. ”If they don’t start deploying digital signage technology and using content to engage guests, guests are going to follow the newer brands and boutique brands that have migrated to incorporating digital screens into their properties and the traditional hotels will start to slip in occupancy rates as millennials quickly approach nearly 50 percent of the workforce.”
There is a Special Angel Watching Over the City of Angels During the Fires
Today, all of us are watching the difficult situation in Los Angeles and other cities in California as the most destructive and deadliest fires in state history seem to grow larger by the minute. Over 50 people have died, over 100 people are missing, and thousands of homes have been destroyed. Firefighters, the Red Cross, and law enforcement are working as hard as they possibly can to save lives and protect property. It’s times like these when incredible stories begin to emerge of people doing unexpected life-saving work that defines public service and serves as wonderful examples of doing good to help others. In many ways, this is what keeps hope alive.
One such story involves the Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA). It may surprise all of us that there is a special angel watching over the City of Angels during these fires, and her name is Angel Babcock. In March of 2012, Angel, her parents and two siblings passed away when her home was flattened by a tornado. Angel was only 20 months old.
I speak about Angel in the present tense because FIA has carried on her memory every day since the day she went to Heaven on March 4, 2012. At the time of Angel’s passing, FIA was early on in developing its technology through a partnership as a secondary AMBER Alert distributor with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. On the day Angel’s story was reported, a FIA volunteer read it and mobilized a team at Conversant to adapt the AMBER Alert technology to serve tornado warnings. It was a remarkable display of passion for Angel. Everyone wanted to channel our sadness in a way that would allow Angel’s memory to live on and save others that might have a chance to reach safety. Maybe it would be different for future Angels. Maybe her legacy could help the City of Angels.
Six years later, Angel’s memory has never been more real to all of us at FIA — as her memory lives on in each alert we serve. It has been a critical force for good as FIA has emerged as the largest global alerting platform for a wide variety of emergency alerts like the 8,257,054 Fire Weather Warnings served to the public in California, including the City of Angels, during the month of November.
Since Project Angel was launched, we have served over 2 billion weather warnings across the United States and Canada.
We could not be prouder of Angel and the spirit she has left behind for all of us to cherish.
The Digital Signage Federation, Board of Directors, FIA Partner
MTA Arts & Design Unveils New Digital Artwork “Skyyys™” Now on Display at Fulton Transit Center
Just in time to mark the start of summer, the award-winning Digital Arts program administered by MTA Arts & Design has unveiled its fifth digital artwork at the busy Fulton Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan. Titled Skyyys™ the new video installation by interdisciplinary artist Dave Greber playfully mimics the constant stream of visual information that we all experience daily. He remixed recognizable, colorful kinetic objects into an entertaining and witty new universe of familiar objects such as balloons, bouncing balls and stuffed animals.
“Dave’s fun and inventive digital work featuring objects often associated with childhood and play gives additional dynamism to the mixed use elements of Fulton Center — its myriad shops and this vital transportation hub,” said Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts & Design. “The energy and mixture of colors, stuff and patterns are simply joyful.”
The fluid pace, whimsical imagery, and prismatic palette of Skyyys™ creates harmonious visual-music that complements the pace of commuters at Fulton center, a likewise kaleidoscopic space of transition as riders make their way throughout the busy subway hub served by the 2 3 4 5 A C and J lines. Skyyys™ was created using the artist’s unique approach of filming carefully constructed sets that are then re-envisioned as entertaining digital worlds. Greber’s work across mediums references ideas of pop culture, advertising and spirituality, generating a mystic reading of contemporary society using video and sculpture.
The immersive, captivating videos air simultaneously for two minutes at the top of each hour on 52 digital screens throughout the Fulton Center complex and the Dey Street pedestrian tunnel that connects multiple New York City Transit lines to the World Trade Center PATH station. The Westfield Fulton Center network synchronizes 44 LCD video walls, totaling more than 1,200 square feet and nine locations of LED screens, totaling more than 2,100 square feet. The complex media network plays in one and two-minute loops, offering news feeds, sports, weather, advertising, transit information and digital art. The MTA Arts & Design Digital Art program is presented with technical support from Westfield Properties and ANC Sports.
“The network at Fulton Center is a unique palate for new media artists, and the back end synchronization allows the content to be displayed as designed,” said Yaling Chen, Deputy Director and leader of the Digital Art team at MTA Arts & Design. “Dave worked with our team and our partners from Westfield Properties and ANC Sports and the outcome exceeded his expectations,” added Chen.
MTA Arts & Design has won three DSE APEX awards for its new media installations at Fulton Center, most recently a Bronze at DSE 2018 in the Transportation Category for “The Fluid” created by Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Chris Doyle. Skyyys™ will be on display through fall 2018.
About the artist
Dave Greber (b. 1982, Philadelphia) is an installation and video artist who addresses concepts of spirituality, marketing, and pop culture through his work. Greber creates vibrant, quirky, revelatory images and installations using a combination of video-loops, sculpture, and painting. Dave Greber studied at Temple University, Universiteit van Amsterdam, and Tulane University. After a stint as a filmmaker/freelance commercial video producer, he found his calling in the contemporary art resurgence of post-Katrina New Orleans, creating video loops and site-specific multimedia installations. His work has been featured in museums and galleries including the Whitney, Crystal Bridges, Minneapolis Institute of Art, C24 Gallery, and Staten Island Arts’ LUMEN Festival. For more information about her work, visit http://www.thesculpted.com/
About MTA Arts & Design
MTA Arts & Design, formerly known as MTA Arts for Transit & Urban Design, encourages the use of mass transit in the metropolitan New York area by providing visual and performing arts in the transit environment. In November 2014, Arts & Design launched the Digital Arts program that feature works of contemporary new media artists throughout MTA’s digital media network. The Percent for Art program is one of the largest and most diverse collections of site-specific public art in the world, with more than 300 commissions by world-famous, mid-career and emerging artists. Arts & Design produces photography installations as well as graphic arts and live musical performances in stations through its Music Under New York (MUSIC) program, and the Poetry in Motion program in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America. It serves the more than eight million people who ride MTA subways and commuter trains daily and strives to create meaningful connections between sites, neighborhoods, and people. For more information, please visit mta.info/art
Five Steps Retailers Can Take to Keep Shoppers
Jeff Hastings, BrightSign CEO
On the surface it would seem brick-and-mortar retailers are in trouble. Big legacy brands like Sears and JC Penny are dramatically scaling back their storefront presence, while retailers like Toys R Us are shuttering altogether. True, e-commerce is causing havoc in the brick-and-mortar space, but I firmly believe that reports of the demise of retail are greatly exaggerated.
Customers still enjoy the experience of going shopping – most people are not so reclusive that they wish to curtail in-store shopping altogether. They don’t want to live life between four walls with everything brought to their door. They like to get out, to meet and interact with people including knowledgeable retail assistants. There’s an upside to seeing and handling certain products before purchase.
The key to recovering foot-traffic in retail is the shopping experience itself. Here are five examples of our customers around the world going to extraordinary measures to enhance the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience:
- Make The Customer’s Experience Smooth and Seamless: Robinsons 200,000 sq. ft. flagship store in the Dubai Festival Mall has signage that can be instantly updated by store staff. Customers are welcomed by way-finders directing them smoothly not only to the relevant department, but to the brand that they’ve come to see. Each department has brand columns featuring video content provided by those brands. In the VIP check-out, further screens advertise special promotions to the most affluent customers.
- Encourage Interaction: Travel is a top online purchase, but the UK’s first interactive holiday store, Cruise 1st in Manchester, offers customers a truly unique space in which to select their next cruise holiday. Passing shoppers are attracted by in-window screens and a 2×2 video wall showing 4K video content and images. In-store, live TV content from Cruise 1st’s own Sky TV channel is displayed on a video wall. Touchscreen kiosks make choosing a holiday a game for the entire family.
- Beacon Technology: Improves the overall digital signage experience by increasing audience engagement and creating a personalized experience on two screens. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technology, 2-way communication between digital signage and mobile devices is achieved and allows for the delivery of highly targeted promotions based on location as well as the ability to control digital signage playback from a mobile device.
- Use Social Media On The In-store Signage to Engage Customers: Vegas EXP has embraced digitally enhanced experiential shopping. It has a total of 28 screens, with a 55-inch interactive display in the heart of the store. When idle, the screen displays content such as notable Instagram feeds and the local weather forecast. When customers engage with the display, they can browse the online catalog but also have fun with the “selfie mode,” scrolling through and taking selfies in front of various iconic Las Vegas backdrops.
- Create a “wow” factor: El Palacio de Hierro’s flagship store located in Mexico City has replicated a large overhead stained glass ceiling with a 60-inch LED sphere and full-ceiling LED display installed atop the store’s 66-foot-high main concourse.
With innovations like these, it’s clear to see we’re not even close to end-times for the physical retailer. The dip we’re seeing in retail is a sign that retailers haven’t yet hit on the right formula to stay relevant in this digital age. But savvy retailers are facing the issue head-on and using digital signage to deliver the right experience to keep customers coming back.
If you were unable to attend the DSF Austin Meet & Greet on May 9th, a pdf version of the presentation by Manolo Almagro and John Dubois, is now available.
Meaningful Analytics AI + Machine Learning – (View Presentation)