Listicles like this are successful for the same reason digital signage for retailers is – there’s a lot of information packed into a small space, divided into easily digestible bites.
The advice in this article goes for any kind of retail location. This could be a store, but it could also be a shopping center, sports venue, museum, zoo, hospital gift shop, hair salon or spa in a hotel, conference center, cinema, concert venue, theater, public or private library, or a university bookstore – these are all spaces that benefit from using digital signage for retailers.
And because digital signage is a visual communications medium, you don’t need a lot of words to get your message across. For example, let’s say a retail shop has digital signs at the cashier desks, which they use to promote certain items, maybe even some of their stock that’s been discounted. They don’t need a paragraph description of a shirt that’s on sale. All that’s needed is a compelling image, a few words and the price.
Because customers are already there in the store, they can go look at the actual shirt and, armed with what they know from the display, can make a quick decision about purchasing it or not. This brings us to our first benefit.
1. It bridges the online and in-store experience
Retail spaces are physical places, with their stock right there to be interacted with. This is a big difference from the online shopping experience, where the customer has to parse all the details and then hopefully make the right choice. And then they have to wait for their item to be delivered, which could days or even weeks. But in a retail location, their items are right there already – they can walk out with them as soon as the transaction’s done.
Most people have become very comfortable with buying things over the web. It’s estimated that over 80% of the US population buys things online at least some of the time, and that percentage is set to increase over the next few years. A retailer that has some of their catalog highlighted on digital signs can present their products and services in a way that’s familiar to web shoppers, and yet has the added bonus of immediate buyer satisfaction.
Retailers using digital signage can also advertise items that they don’t currently have in stock. This is especially true of products like a new iPhone or video game that there’s a lot of buzz about. People can see what’s coming soon, pay for it and pick it up or have it delivered to their home later. This is exactly what happens when they buy things over the internet anyway.
So, it’s really the best of both worlds for the consumer. They can augment their browsing using familiar tools and interfaces, and usually walk out with all or most of their purchases right away. The key is to ensure the online and in-store experiences are consistent and fluid. A customer should experience the same branding, product grouping and prices online that they’ll experience in the store.
88% of retailers say in-store technology helps them compete with the online experience, according to RSR Research, and 80% of them think store results will erode further than they already have unless a way is found to incorporate technology into the visitor and customer experience. But perhaps a better way to look at it is that technological solutions help complete the experience, not compete with it.
2. It engages customers in real time
As mentioned above, this is primarily a visual communications medium. The vast majority of the information our brains take in from the world around us is visual (90%), and we process pictures an amazing 60,000 times faster than we do text alone. Visual information is also easier to remember – studies show digital signage has a recall rate in excess of 83%. And even after a decent period of time, information received from digital signs gets double the retention it does from other sources.
Adding motion increases all this even more. We’re hard-wired to notice movement, and people say they understand things they learn from video over 50% more than something they read. Video also tends to engage people emotionally, which further increases their attention and interest.
Digital signage software apps can run all types of content, and you can schedule your messaging around customer preferences and buying patterns. You can also update screens instantly to keep up with current demand trends or inventory. Customers see more messages, more often, and you can target your messaging to when and where it counts. If there’s a limited time offer, an ad can be scheduled to show just for that period, then drop off automatically once it’s no longer relevant. All of this means your customers are seeing the content that matters to them, when they need it, so they’ll be more likely to engage with your messaging.
Retailers have been using end-of-aisle displays and printed posters to draw attention to products and services for decades. By moving away from static advertising to videos and animations on screens, they’re able to grab more attention, which translates to a better customer experience.
3. It improves the customer experience
The goal of any good brand messaging is to build customer relationships. That relationship is built at every step of the customer journey – each and every interaction they have with your brand. So, it’s important that your in-store experience live up to or exceed their expectations.
If you have a waiting area or queues at your venue, adding digital signs has been proven to reduce perceived wait times. Because there’s something engaging to watch, customers don’t mind waiting and the time seems to go faster. And while they’re waiting, they’re being exposed to more content relevant to their needs and wants. If you integrate a queuing system with your digital signage, it can actually reduce real wait times by increasing checkout efficiencies.
In addition to screens showing customers promos for products and services, you can extend your brand influence by giving them complimentary content like product tutorials and demos. A grocery store can provide links or QR codes for recipes with featured food items. A hotel can feature a welcome and orientation video for large groups. A clothing store can show suggested outfits made up of current sale items. A florist can feature flower arranging tips. A bank could show FAQs on screens for convenience.
This type of content shows your customers that you offer them more than just basic transactions, and digital signs are the only practical way to offer this kind on-the-ground immersive experience. Both the quantity and quality of your messaging can extend and enrich the customer experience with your brand in a way that reinforces your brand story.
4. It amplifies your brand
Customers expect more from the brands they interact with than just a product and a price. They want to know what you stand for, where and how you source and produce what you sell, and how you operate in the world at large.
Of course, what you show on screens should be part of your overall identity, with branding, messaging and imagery consistent with your overall marketing efforts. But you can also use digital signs to reinforce your mission, values and brand story to tie your overall brand messaging into the on-site experience, reinforcing that brand in customers’ minds.
If you’re involved in community outreach or philanthropy – advertise that. Promote your views on diversity, equity and inclusion if they’re important to your brand. Depending on the venue, things like health and wellness tips might be appropriate. If you have a loyalty program, advertise the benefits and how to join up. Lifestyle ads have been proven successful over the years in commercials, so bring some of the lifestyle you’re promoting to your digital signs.
As you build your brand into more than just a product or service, that brand image will solidify in customers’ minds more than a transactional experience will. This builds loyalty and can help you become top of mind for your industry.
5. It offers immersive experiences
Offering touchscreens to your customers can take your signage solution and customer experience a step further. By using interactivity, you can combine and add to the messaging we’ve already discussed, but make it available for clients to search in their own time, in their own way. This frees up your staff to focus on more personal interactions and service.
Adding touchscreens and kiosks gives you nearly unlimited messaging space – expanding the capabilities of your screens from one passive message at a time to a layered, interactive experience. (Think of a website versus a PowerPoint slide.) People can sift through an enormous amount of content, attractively packaged and very similar to their online shopping experiences.
Venues that serve food, which could be a quick service restaurant, a food court or a hospitality center like a hotel with multiple options on-site, can show menu boards. These are interactive menus that show what’s on offer and the prices, any specials, and can allow people to discover more information, like the nutritional content of the food items, calorie count, even search though all the items to find things that they can have if they suffer from certain allergies or have dietary restrictions.
Menu boards are really just a type of directory, and this technology can be adapted for other purposes as well. The most straightforward is a directory of staff, departments or tenants paired with interactive wayfinding maps to help people get where they’re going. SMS and QR options can even let people download directions to their mobile device.
Hospitals and museums often rely on philanthropy to keep their doors open, so donor boards that let people learn about patrons and how to donate are becoming increasingly popular. A bookstore on a college campus can show some or all of their catalog using an interactive kiosk, alongside promotions and other information.
If there are any on-site events, these can be advertised on touchscreens as well, possibly paired with ticket sales or reservation systems. Digital calendars already being used by a venue can be tied into their digital signs, so the information there will update automatically.
Any interactive touchscreens or kiosks will have to comply with ADA guidelines, so the potential audience for your messaging is even bigger. Interactive signage can even go totally hands-free by using a voice-user interface. People just speak simple instructions to the screen and navigate to what they want while never having to touch anything at all.
The audience for digital signage could be just about anybody, and it’s possible to add multiple languages to interactive offerings. Once again, the customer experience is at the center of your messaging, so your customer base can grow and engage with your brand more easily.
6. It generates revenues
There’s a reason we didn’t put this at the top of the list. That’s because if you’re doing the steps above this one effectively, they’ll all contribute to higher revenues. Digital signage for retailers not only boosts sales in the short term, but also builds customer relationships for long-term revenue growth.
Digital ads have also been shown to increase impulse purchases. Shopify found that 68% of customers feel like they want to buy things they saw on the digital signs, and 44% of them say that seeing items there have actually made them switch what they were originally going to buy with what they see on the screens. Many stores, from clothing to grocers, have seen sales increase by more than a third after they start using digital signage.
With digital signs, you can direct in-store traffic patterns by highlighting specific products or departments. You can promote end-of-life or niche products, or bundle services that compliment certain purchases. In addition to upselling, you can also pair ads with digital coupons and in-store discounts to increase sales. Again, if you have a loyalty program, reward members with special offers on screens.
The more real value you offer your patrons, the more likely they’ll enjoy their experience and want to repeat it. The lifetime value of a satisfied customer is worth much more than any one transaction, so creating in-store messaging that is engaging, timely, relevant and beneficial for clients is a crucial piece of the customer engagement (and by extension, long-term revenues) model.
7. It reduces waste
In addition to generating revenue, digital signs can also lower expenses and help your green efforts. Although there’s an initial investment in the hardware, software and training, it means no more paper posters or signs, which cost money and create waste. In addition to the toxins and resources used in the printing process, once printed materials are outdated, they sit in a landfill and degrade, releasing chemicals into the ground and air.
Digital signs are electronic, and a venue’s carbon footprint can be reduced even further by choosing green energy sources for that electricity, if possible. If not, a simple carbon offset scheme can be adopted, which can then also be promoted on the screens if that’s part of your brand story.
And with paper signs, someone has to make them, put them up, take them down, and then someone has to replace them. With digital signage, it’s all done from a computer. No more copier and printer jams, no more working late to switch out physical formats, which leads to our next point.
8. It streamlines workflows
Digital signage is more than just electronic posters – it’s a whole suite of technologies that combine to create a centralized system to communicate anything and everything.
Allowing multiple people to manage content through one app can spread out the workload, and you can keep approval processes in place to ensure quality and design standards are met. If you’re localizing messages across a chain of venues, each location can create their own content to mix in with corporate messaging. And, as opposed to someone having to run around changing out posters, digital signage managers can simply schedule messages to drop off playlists when they expire.
If you’re using digital signs for the public, why not use it for internal communications as well? Because digital signage is a centralized, scalable solution, you can use one system to design and publish both external and internal messages.
Keep staff appraised of shift schedules, new products, deadlines and safety measures. You can advertise job opportunities, training and benefits information. Motivate and recognize teams for successes, and show KPIs and delivery schedules to keep everyone on track. All of your internal communications strategies can be bolstered and reinforced on digital signs in staff rooms and offices.
A lot of the content for your screens can be automated. Weather feeds, RSS headlines, event schedules and meeting calendars, even inventory stats can be tied in to automatically populate displays. If you’re using a queuing system, you can tie that in. Anything coming from Excel, XML or JSON files can be formatted and displayed on digital signs.
And because so many systems can be tied together, there’s a lot of analytics data available – how many times a piece of content plays and where, which content streams need more attention, how active your content contributors are and how long it takes to approve something before it goes on screen. All of this helps the digital signage managers fine tune what they’re doing, constantly improving workflows, adjusting campaigns, and tweaking messaging for maximum impact. So, it doesn’t just improve the customer and visitor experience, it improves the employee experience as well.
Digital signage can even be a profit generator. With all of the benefits listed here, there’s a good chance that other businesses will be willing to pay to advertise on your displays. This makes obvious sense in a multi-tenant space such as a shopping mall, but also to libraries, chambers of commerce, hotels, hospitals, universities or any venue wanting to advertise nearby services.
The “retail” in retail digital signage could be anything the public goes to for goods or services. And because it’s so scalable, it’s a great solution for retailers of any size. A single gas station or pizza parlor can get all the benefits digital signage has to offer just as much as an international hotel chain or clothing label. It’s all about creating a great customer experience for long-term relationships and loyalty to your brand.