By Dominic Feik

Digital signage is a key emerging technology for improving customer experience in physical retail outlets, for increasing customer conversion and retention, and supporting omni-channel retail.

Digital signage includes a wide range of retail display capabilities such as digital posters, window displays, video walls, small counter top screens, large outdoor LED displays, and interactive touch screens. These can be utilised in vastly different ways to support brand-oriented, sales-oriented, or operational business strategies.

It is also a rapidly evolving area – in terms of understanding what works, what are consumer expectations and responses, what is technically possible, and what makes commercial sense.

Done well, digital signage can deliver competitive advantage and dramatically improve business performance. Done poorly, it can be a money pit that diminishes the brand. In this challenging but potentially rewarding environment there are some golden rules to keep in mind regardless of your business, customers, and goals.

1)    Clearly define your business objectives – Be clear on what you are trying to achieve as different design, content, and hardware will drive different sets of benefits. Better sales uplift or margin growth may come from smaller, cheaper, well positioned screens with good content; but large displays may be more effective for ambience or brand.

2)    Choose the right package as a whole – While a TV on a wall is a cheap way of getting started, it is unlikely to deliver benefits, and will typically quickly result in operational issues (e.g. can’t update content). Effective digital signage requires hardware, software, content, updating processes, measurement, and support.

3)    Make sure digital signage fits in – make sure your digital signage installation is integrated with your shop fit out. Poor physical appearance is likely to compromise the benefit of good quality content by degrading in-store ambience.

4)    Content is king – Investment in quality content to support clear business objectives (e.g. sales uplift, branding, or product awareness) and timely (time of day, week, or year) is what drives commercial returns.

5)    Measure & refine – digital signage provides great capacity to change messages. Digital signage (compared to traditional signage) offers the accountability improvements as online over traditional media. Short trials of content, measured against performance (e.g. sales; customer response) can accelerate ROI.

This high-level set of rules guides successful digital signage – subsequent articles will explore these in more detail.

Dominic Feik is General Manager, Digital of Sumo Visual Group, one of Australia’s leading visual display and digital signage providers. He brings to digital signage extensive experience in applying emerging technologies to innovative business strategies, and large-scale IT service delivery.