Digital signage: Entering a new era - part two

Ahead of the largest gathering of AV and systems integration technology in the world, we look at how the digital signage market is being transformed by new technologies – creating new opportunities for retailers – in the first of a two part feature. 

In the second instalment of this industry feature, we speak with leading figures in the world of digital signage to assess the trends in the retail industry and where the possible opportunities are.

Significant contribution

As you will have read in part one of this feature, the retail industry is changing to fit the needs of a modern customer. And with this change, technology is enabling retailers to create more memorable experiences for their customers and ensure that a physical retail space remains relevant in 2019.

One of the key advantages claimed for shopping online is its ability to deliver what seems like unlimited choice – a choice difficult to replicate in a store environment. Here too, the latest screen technologies are making a significant contribution.

“There are multiple use cases to draw inspiration for retailers when assessing why AV solutions can bring business benefits,” says Laila Hede Jensen, a board member of the Digital Signage Organisation (DSO). “The automotive industry is making use of technology extremely well for car showrooms. With space at a premium, technology enables multiple car customisation choices to appear for a customer instantly with touch configuration screens. With many retailers taking pride in their extensive ranges of products, similar methods can be applied to create an environment that maximises the use of space and provides customers with the information they need.”

Florian Rotberg, managing director of digital signage researcher and consultancy invidis consulting, and chairman of the Digital Signage Summit ISE 2020, sounds a note of warning, however.

“While many in the digital signage and retail industry believe ‘being digital’ means screens, LED and sound everywhere, they are wrong,” he claims. “Digital without appearing digital is one of the important trends, where digital enables data-driven experiences in which the consumer is not necessarily confronted with a phalanx of screens. Displays need to be positioned along the customer journey where they add value – not where the retailer has some space left.” 

Where to find the new technologies, though, that can be so potentially transformative? With numerous specialist digital signage shows around the world, it might seem strange that Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) – the world’s largest audiovisual exhibition, which opens its doors in Amsterdam on 11 February 2020 – is seen by many as a better option. That’s not least because it’s not ‘just’ a digital signage show, but the opportunity to evaluate numerous technologies and products that are no less applicable to the retail environment.

Main event

“Come to ISE for the world’s most comprehensive array of digital signage solutions – but don’t overlook the customer relationship management, experiential, AI, voice control and other interactive elements and technologies that will be there as well,” comments Jeff Hastings, CEO of digital signage media player company BrightSign.

“ISE is the main event in the calendar for the AV world,” adds Jensen, “and as disparate systems and technologies require compatibility to fully deliver an immersive experience, end users must recognise the benefits of viewing the industry as a whole – recognising that digital signage fits within the corporate ecosystem. Digital signage and digital out of home play a major role at ISE, and visitors will find the leading manufacturers exhibiting at the show.  For the Digital Signage Organisation, ISE is one of the most important industry events to attend as it delivers opportunities to network, get hands on with the newest solutions, and stand on the shoulders of giants with professional development and training courses available. As an association, many of our DSO members attend ISE, and this makes it a perfect platform to meet and share best practices and informed opinions on opportunities.”

“Audiovisual applications surround us throughout our daily lives, influencing the way we work and how we spend our free time,” comments Jasmin Stemmler, product marketing manager, NEC Display Solutions Europe. “This is why ISE is essential for retailers: to understand how they can drive their business with competitive advantage. It’s not just about engagement with customers via digital signage, it’s also about how to communicate with employees through digital corporate messaging; how to facilitate the workplace for more productive meetings; and how to establish an effective surveillance system in order to prevent theft and respond to emergency situations. All these scenarios are highly relevant to the retailers’ business and can be assisted through effective deployment of AV technology – and they’re all on show at ISE.”

Amazed at audiovisual

“The solutions on show are very far reaching and cover all aspects of the audiovisual arena, from software and hardware vendors alike,” echoes Warren Bremner, business and channel development manager at Signagelive. “Many retailers I have spoken to at ISE have been amazed by the range of technologies at the event, and this has opened up new avenues of thought about how they can transform their estate and bring innovations and integrations to improve the customer journey.”

Jensen mentions the learning opportunities that are available at ISE – and these include the Digital Signage Summit ISE that has been a regular feature of the exhibition for several years. The half-day strategy conference is co-organised by invidis consulting and takes place on 12 February 2020, at the Hotel Okura Amsterdam which is a short walk from the RAI exhibition centre.

“ISE is the world’s largest digital signage show,” says the company’s Rotberg, “and there’s not a better place to experience the breadth of solutions available.”

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