Digital Signage Boosts In-Store Merchandising With Sights, Sounds, and More

Digital signage is a dynamic, audio-visual tool that is fast becoming an integral part of today's shopping environment.

Much more than simply a way to provide visual information, digital signage can involve music, which creates a pleasant multi-sensory environment that captures customers' attention. This combined audio-visual experience gives the customer a transformative show of music and video entertainment. It enables retailers to promote products and provide shoppers with targeted information, assist retail processes such as traffic, wayfinding and igniting the purchase process, offer buying decision assistance and seller assistance, and strengthen brand loyalty. Ultimately, it is revolutionizing the shopping experience and increasing retailers' profits.

A typical buying process combines messaging to customers during their visit to the store to strengthen the brand and assist in their decision making. Effective and targeted messaging is critical in influencing customers' decision making and in up-selling. Digital signage displays relevant information, retail specials, discounts and additional benefits to the customer on screens strategically located around the store. The information can be customized by department, store location, time, stock level and other parameters decided by the retailer. Digital signage also helps engage shoppers and enhances the flow of store traffic. The result: merchandise spread throughout the store, specifically in harder-to-find areas, is made more accessible.

The in-store customer experience is also greatly enhanced. Digital signage can entertain customers, creating a rich multimedia ambiance for their shopping experience. Shopping can become more inviting and interactive, departing from the traditional "behind-the-counter" client/sales relationship in favor of a more personalized experience.

Decision-making is key. Today, increasing numbers of shoppers make their decision at the store and it is important to help them with the process. A recent study by Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) indicates a growing trend of in-store decision-making. According to the study, 82 percent of mass merchant purchase decisions are made in the store, a jump from the 76 percent found in the 2012 grocery channel study. According to POPAI, "It is no surprise 82 percent of mass merchant purchase decisions are made in store. This new insight suggests the importance and persuasive tendencies displays can have on shoppers' purchase decision."

Store visits are important even in online purchasing. A study by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney found that stores play a crucial role in online purchases because two-thirds of customers purchasing online consult a physical store before or after the transaction. The store makes a significant contribution to converting the sale, even though the transaction is eventually registered online. According to A.T. Kearney, "Physical stores continue to be customers' preferred shopping channel and a place where the most significant consumer and retailer value is created."

All of this gives rise to the growing popularity of digital signage in the retail industry. What's the secret? Commenting on a recent study entitled "Analysis of the Global Digital Signage Systems Market," research firm Frost & Sullivan reports, "The diluting of mass media and shrinking attention spans of global consumers by media clutter led marketers to gravitate toward the digital signage medium, which can deliver relevant messaging to a finely-targeted audience." 

Frost & Sullivan points out that "apart from product quality, one of the key objectives for marketers in the current in-store environment is creating a relationship with the consumer through enhanced brand experience. As such, digital signage is a more effective advertising medium than traditional in-store communications, as it increases sales and saves costs through superior shopper engagement."

Digital signage can be installed in many and varied places throughout the store. The displays may be located in multiple areas, including points-of-sale and aisles. Stores can create a digital multimedia ecosystem that includes regular screens, video walls, kiosks and interactive applications, using tablets. Customers can experience content ranging from entertainment, advertising and promotion, to brand video and tablet-based resources. QR codes can help extend digital signage beyond the boundaries of screens and video walls into mobile devices. It can remind users of offers, coupons, and deals on time, and at the exact location to be relevant to the purchasing decision. Customers can even share these with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

Using interactive touch screens shoppers have the opportunity to explore the store's – or the entire company's – catalog in a fast and simple way. Instead of having to wait for a salesperson, the customer can take the initiative and use the signage to learn about the different products available and the various pricing options. Some stores even allow their customers to play interactive games directly on the screens.

Digital signage also provides retailers with a powerful means of in-store quantitative analysis. By accessing the point-of-sale (POS) systems, and analyzing the correlation between the displays and actual sales, digital signage helps to determine the effectiveness of digital display-based marketing campaigns and ads, and their impact on sales. The retailer can immediately examine this correlation in various categories, such as individual store departments, geographic regions, location and more. Retailers can review trends and improve campaigns and ads. POS integration allows real-time upsell/cross sell capability and inventory tracking, helping cashiers upsell high-margin products during checkout.

With digital signage, stores have a flexible, multifaceted tool that is constantly evolving to drive customer sales and satisfaction higher, and contribute directly to retailers' bottom line.

Lou Carulli is marketing manager for YCD Multimedia.

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