Retail clients driving digital signage innovation says OneLan marketing manager Liz Thornber

Since appearing in the early-2000s, digital signage has become commonplace in stores. Yet there are still challenges for the sector in terms of securing all-important client investment.

One company providing digital signage services is OneLan, which develops screen-based communications for applications including retail and advertising networks. 

According to OneLan marketing manager Liz Thornber client demands are continuing to push innovation. For example, many are requesting small screens at the point-of-sale, which can create its own set of issues. For OneLan example of this is a mobile telecoms store that uses up to 30 3.5-inch screens to show product information.

"This leads to a proliferation of screens within networks and we are now experiencing enquiries for tens of thousands of screens," says Thornber. Mass scale deployments can create challenges in terms of scalability and manageability. As a result Onelan has been developing content management systems to deal with the extra load.

At the same time, the requirement for this type of content shows how the sector has matured, from 42-inch plasma screens at Tesco in the early-2000s to the wide variety of signage available now. If this proves anything, it is that the market has seen the worth of showing video content in-store.

"In the last 5-10 years there has been a general acceptance that digital signage can deliver results," Thornber says. "We’ve moved from the early adopter phase, where ROI was important, and have moved into a ‘me-too’ position where it is an accepted tool of communication. There has also been a decrease in the cost of screens, which has led to further adoption."

Developments in digital signage are not all about the small. In terms of current projects Onelan singles out its work in Dubai Duty Free.

The company was selected to provide the content management system tools and a range of digital signage players to drive HD and 4K content displayed on LFDs, video walls and LED displays. Phase One alone consisted of over 800 screens.

Other challenges involved zero maintenance performance, as the system was in a security zone, and integration into an existing EPOS system. The latter was needed to allow the content management system to publish video content to the EPOS terminal screens.

Client Mahmood Jessa, chief intelligence officer at Connectiv, aptly states the importance of keeping the network up and running: “I’m sure we have all seen a digital installation similar to the one pictured below… now imagine receiving a call from His Highness Sheikh Ahmed asking why his airport is blue?”

Requirements also included synchronisation across players to allow for premium advertising packages to be sold. According to the client, sales increases were up by around 40% compared to the month-long period before the campaign launched.

In terms of looking to the future, it is likely the digital signage offer will evolve and include more interactive capabilities, says Thornber: "For example, small interactive screens that display product information, cross-sell recommendations and online checkout where stock is not available in store. Interactive digital signage allows this to happen before the customer leaves the store… this will help retailers improve customer retention and reduce ‘showrooming’."

A lot of these issues will be discussed at the upcoming Resign Digital Signage Expo. Looking ahead to to the event Thornber says,"We hope to attend with one of our partners. We would hope to meet tier 1 and tier 2 retailers."