The Lockdown Boom in Retail AV

It’s been a good year for sales of AV to retail. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The truth is that there were winners as well as losers, and the winners won big. BrightSign received the single-largest PO in its history right in the middle of lockdown. That PO came from a retailer. 

Retailers whose business was classified as ‘essential’ experienced a boom during lockdown. Many of these retailers hadn’t historically invested significantly in AV to enhance their customer experience. But having lured a whole bunch of new customers through their doors during the pandemic, they were deeply conscious of the need to invest to keep customers coming back and spending. So they doubled down on their AV investment. 

Other retail sectors are now experiencing a resurgence as covid restrictions begin to ease. Clothing, for example, is seeing customers that switched to online purchases in the lockdown returning, appreciating the opportunity to try items on before they buy. They are tired of packing up garments that they don’t like or don’t fit and returning them. 

Together, these trends drove BrightSign’s best-ever year in retail. How can we help these customers grow their business post-lockdown? The most fundamental requirements are reliability and remote management. During lockdown, sending out a service engineer to a struggling player became impossible. It was not just desirable but essential that players could be fully managed over the Internet. That meant not only the ability to schedule and play content, but also to actually see what is playing at any time, view the logs, update the software on the player and address any fault conditions. Fully remote player management is now possible, and should be a necessity for any newly installed media player in the field. Once a player is powered up and connected to the Internet, there should be no reason for anyone to visit it until it reaches the end of its service life and needs replacing.  

When lockdown hit, I was concerned it was going to be a troubling year for our retail business. The reality was quite the opposite. It’s been our best year ever in that industry. We can never be complacent though. Our focus is firmly on deployment and control. I believe that these are at least as important to our customers as the work we do on player performance and features.