One of the things that make Times Square, New York City so exciting for tourists and locals alike is the many digital billboards and the dancing images on them. Digital signage needn’t be limited to Time Square’s jumbotrons though. Digital signage is the future of in-store marketing and here’s why marketers should start investing in digital signage.

Most people think of digital signage as a fancy replacement for existing signs. That’s what the name itself implies and anyway, new technology is always defined by what it is replacing. The car was first described as the “horseless carriage,” but just as there was far more to the automobile than its lack of horses, there is far more to digital signage than just the ability to display posters.

Digital signage is the future of retail. Digital signage delivers advertising and information, but when done right it also offers an engaging and fun experience for viewers.

For example, look at what Costa Coffee is doing with their coffee vending machines (video).  Their kiosks offer a completely immersive experience that touches all five senses. Key to the visual experience the kiosk provides is the large digital sign in the middle of the machine.

Besides replicating the coffee shop experience for customers, Costa Coffee kiosks are also able to see who is in front of them, and offer different products to different people. This is where digital signage really comes into its own. When connected with analytics software (such as Intel’s analytics solution) and sensors, digital signage can change its content based on the age or gender of the viewer. That level of customization is the child of the union of big data and automation and it has huge implications for the future of bricks-and-mortar retail.

Given that 80% of sales today take place in stores, there are enormous opportunities for enhancing the bricks-and-mortar retail experience with digital signage and the customization it can offer. Digital signage is to physical spaces what social media is to traditional media—it’s a way to engage and converse, instead of just broadcasting. Old fashioned signs broadcast information. Digital signs have the capability to interact (which makes them the perfect way to engage omnichannel shoppers).

Not only can digital signage engage with customers, it can also become valuable source of market intelligence, as it records each interaction it has with every single person that passes in front of it. This creates a virtuous cycle where data is gathered and used to improve content, which in turn, brings in more data.

Customers don’t care about big data though. Customers just want a great experience and digital signage, when combined with big data, can provide that. The Costa Coffee kiosks use predictive analytics to serve up relevant content with the coffee. Here’s what prescriptive analytics could look like in action:

You want to buy a new car but can’t decide on the colors or features you want. What if you could enter some data into the dealer’s website and then build your own car at the dealership on a life-size digital sign? The exact models and features you are considering appear on the screen in front of you as you customize and optimize your dream car. The customer may not even know what prescriptive analytics are, but they will appreciate the great user experience that digital signage can afford in this case. That’s really speaking your customers’ language!

This model could easily be extended to any sort of customizable product offering and while this sort of tailored experience is common online it is almost nonexistent in the bricks-and-mortar retail world right now. With digital signage though, it could not only become a reality, it could become the norm.

Digital signage is growing by 20% each year in just the U.S. alone. Clearly, digital signage is not a fad that’s going to go away. Prices on digital signage equipment are quickly falling as the technology matures and now is the time to start taking advantage of what digital signage can offer you and your business!

 

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