Vermeer Southeast: Central Dissemination of In-Store Content

The Vermeer brand of heavy equipment is used globally on job sites and farm fields to feed and fuel the world. Based in the U.S. heartland of Iowa, the third-generation family company relies on an extensive 600-location global dealer network to sell and support Vermeer equipment. The corporate office provides content to its dealers for in-store promotion, including graphics, text, and video for dealers that leverage digital signage.

Vermeer Southeast, with 10 locations in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, is one dealer that has embraced digital signage as a communications tool to customers and employees alike, with very positive results.

“We have long had screens in our stores running videos, but there was no real strategy with the content,” said Jon Hutson, marketing and communications director, Vermeer Southeast. “It wasn’t really digital signage; it was simply repetitive playback loops on television screens.”

Upon joining the company last year, Hutson put the company on the path to digital media, intending to find an affordable vet highly visual and flexible platform. Those roads led to Visix and its AxisTV Signage Suite software, which is now in operation at all 10 stores.

Hutson operates out of Vermeer Southeast’s Marietta, Georgia flagship store, where he is responsible for maintaining the network, as well as the creation, upload, and scheduling of all content. Hutson’s goals have been modest in the early days of the network, with an emphasis on ensuring that content is refreshed regularly.

Each Vermeer Southeast store has one very large display prominently positioned behind the parts and service counter. This ensures that every customer in the showroom will have an opportunity to engage with the content. The Marietta store also added a screen to the front entrance, which Hutson believes will allow him to add another unique twist from a content perspective.

“The entrance display in Marietta focuses on the history of the company, with old photos and a historical timeline,” said Hutson. “Moving forward, the flexibility of the Visix software will allow me to target historical content to this screen, and at other locations if we add entrance screens.”

For now, Hutson is concentrating on developing content for the showrooms. AxisTV Signage Suite gives him a flexible platform to develop three playlists of content for each showroom screen. This includes the main content zone with videos and promotions of Vermeer products and services, and two secondary zones: One focused on used Vermeer equipment for sale, and another that promotes upcoming events and employee news, including birthdays and work anniversaries.

The learning curve was quick for Hutson, who is currently the sole network operator. He emphasizes that the content creation process is intuitive, which allows him to work quickly yet maintain creative freedom from a design standpoint.

“I can very quickly crank out templates with the Visix platform,” said Hutson. “From the beginning, we saw the benefit of how this software would allow us to divide screens into different zones. This would enhance the overall creativity of our presentation, but also allow us to communicate with customers and employees in one shot. My designs remain relatively similar for the sake of consistency, but we can do a lot in that general template – including on-the-fly updates with fresh content.

As Vermeer Southeast is using Visix’s cloud-based CMS, Hutson has the flexibility to upload content from any location, and schedule it to play out on any date and over any daypart.

“The beauty of Visix in the cloud is that I can log in from anywhere to manage the content and the network,” said Hutson. “I can manage the entire operation from my laptop offsite. That has brought enormous value and efficiency to how I work.”

Playlists get distributed over Vermeer Southeast’s IP network to all 10 locations, where Visix digital signage media players are installed at each store. The players, installed behind each screen, operate in a store-and-forward configuration to preserve network bandwidth, with all software living on the network. The player architecture was simple enough for local Vermeer Southeast staff to install, removing any need for outside systems integration work.

“The Visix players are software-defined and extremely reliable, mainly operating uninterrupted and with exceptional image quality on the output.“

At the stores, screen engagement has dramatically increased with customers and employees alike. “The migration to Visix digital signage has allowed us to develop a captive audience at each store,” said Hutson. “Our employees enjoy the recognition of birthdays and work anniversaries of their colleagues, even if from a different store. Our customers are watching the screens and taking in everything from product and vendor promotions to weather information, with much longer dwell times reported. We see plenty of opportunity to with Visix moving forward.”