Technological development in commerce is necessarily rapid and disruptive but it inspires valuable new ideas and tools. The growth and diversification of digital signage over the past couple of decades is a perfect example of this. The size of the global digital signage market was estimated at $23.12 billion in 2021 and industry experts predict a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% at least until 2030. Expansion on this scale is in direct response to the need for digital methods of product and service marketing.
The phenomenal rise of ecommerce during the pandemic might tempt some to look at the world of physical commerce as a dying planet, but the increasing demand for ever-more sophisticated real-world promotional tools is proving that opinion to be profoundly misguided. When the global economy began to reopen, and people returned in huge numbers to the stores, many businesses took the opportunity of this welcome rebirth to adopt new marketing strategies that brought digital resources into retail districts and the mall.
Signage is essential in any retail environment, even online. In physical stores digital signs are the natural successor to the signposts on which retailers have always relied to guide customers towards special offers, new products and special in-store features. Digital signs were originally little more than a novelty version of printed signage.
The huge difference today is that the digital versions are almost infinitely versatile. Options available now include multitouch screens, capacitive displays and infra-red-assisted technologies. Not only can store-owners display information, graphics, videos, news feeds and even personalized messages, they can make use of sophisticated interactive functions in combination with virtual reality to create truly unique shopping experiences.
Naturally, you need equipment like smart screens, cameras, point of sale devices and of course the computer power to run your signage. You also need connectivity components that will enable all the different elements to interact, such as a wi-fi network or mobile technology.
In order to create and manage the content for your digital signage, you need a good content management system. This is similar in principle to what you’d use to maintain your website. You also need digital signage software to deploy it and measure its effects. Many software suites provide both solutions in one package.
The best hardware and software will give you the means of presentation, but the effectiveness of your signage depends on the quality of your content. That includes everything from the simplest directional guidance and promotional messages to photos, graphics, video, audio, live feeds and anything else you can think of that will add value to the experience of your customers.
What Can You Do with Digital Signage?
The short answer is: virtually anything you can imagine. It’s ideal for all kinds of public service applications including transport, health and education, while in the commercial sector, it is extremely effective in retail stores, bars and restaurants. Strategically placed digital signs within commercial establishments enable businesses to turn a casual visit into a journey of discovery and, with a bit of luck, purchase.
Once you’ve got people inside your store, the most important thing is to keep them there for as long as possible. They might have called in for a specific item or just out of curiosity. The job of digital signage is to keep them browsing by drawing their attention to as much of your stock and services as you can. The more they see and like the look of, the greater the chance they’ll buy. And once they start filling their basket or cart, you know they’re in a buying mood.
The power of digital signage actually begins before people even enter the premises. A well-placed sign in the front window or fixed above the door that carries attractive content acts like a beacon. Who can resist this kind of teaser tactic?
Digital signage can be just as valuable in restaurants. It doesn’t map out the customer’s physical journey, but it can certainly influence their gastronomic one, giving extra emphasis to specials of the day, discounts and loyalty schemes. It can tell the narrative behind the provenance and preparation of diners’ food as well as the story of the restaurant and its key personnel. It can even provide video entertainment, public domain movies and relevant advertising.
The sophistication of digital signage is such that its use is limited only by the imagination of the user. It’s a perfect fusion of physical and digital.