Retailers, It's Time to Give Digital Signage a Good Hard Look

Sep 29, 2016

Retailers that have resisted the siren call of digital displays to date should revisit the technology and give serious consideration to its deployment.

For brick and mortar retailers looking to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, the conversation around digital signage has become progressively more enthusiastic and insistent.  But technology for technology’s sake is rarely a winning proposition. Retailers who haven’t yet deployed digital displays probably had good reason to take time to watch the market mature … but recent developments should prompt a re-evaluation.  Let’s revisit the adoption barriers that may have been so convincing only months ago:

“It’s too expensive” has morphed into “I can afford this.”

The original pricing model for a digital signage solution required a high upfront capital expense, followed by substantial recurring fees.  No wonder first users were often big box stores with deep pockets. But times have changed, the cost of technology components has decreased, and a new pricing approach is emerging.  Today, that big upfront expense has been significantly reduced, and those recurring fees are disappearing.

“It’s too complicated” is being neutralized by “I have a partner I can rely on.”

Admittedly, there are multiple moving parts to a digital display system – including network design, hardware and software selection, installation, content production and management, and assorted ongoing support and maintenance services.  Retailers used to have to find, evaluate, and knit together multiple vendors in order to implement an end-to-end digital signage solution. Fortunately, one-stop shops are emerging that offer a single expert interface, including “one throat to choke” if problems arise anytime during the solution’s life cycle.

“It doesn’t work” has turned into “This is state-of-the-art technology.”

If the last digital signage system evaluated employed a TV display attached to a consumer DVR player, it’s time to get current on the impressive technological advancements that have taken place in this sector.  Ruggedized media players, LED backlit technology, smoother scrolling, higher contrast ratios, touch screens, and large video wall displays are just some of the substantial improvements that have been incorporated.  And commercial grade design of all components means less wear and tear and more consistent, high-quality operation.

“Why implement this?” becomes “I needed this yesterday.”

What is the goal of a retailer’s new digital signage system?  Is it to entertain?  Inform?  Inspire?  Promote?  Once the objective has been clearly established, the value of the solution becomes readily apparent.  Today’s digital displays offer an array of additional benefits, including:

  • Pinpoint promotions – The right message in the right location at the right time.
  • Enhanced customer engagement – Consumers want more information and increased convenience at the point of decision. 
  • Optimized in-store selling – Integration with other backend systems (pricing, inventory, logistics, etc.) allows rapid adjustments to promotional messages.  An example would automatically identify a product overstock situation, quickly apply a price discount, and then promote the new offer in real time on the digital display.
  • Competitive advantage – Cutting-edge visual communications solutions attract consumer attention and lay the groundwork for increased sales.


The digital signage market has witnessed a number of changes during the past 24 months, with many improvements being particularly relevant to the retail industry.  A second look by retailers would be well deserved.

Jeanine Sterling


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