Sign of the Times

All types of signage, not just digital, suffer from poor placement. Retailers must optimise their in-store communication by identifying the locations where shoppers stand, pass by, make buying decisions quickly, or more deliberately
All types of signage, not just digital, suffer from poor placement. Retailers must optimise their in-store communication by identifying the locations where shoppers stand, pass by, make buying decisions quickly, or more deliberately

How do you turn the head of a customer? With signs that catch their attention, that's how.... and technology can do the job

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29 August 2008 | 0

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All types of signage, not just digital, suffer from poor placement. Retailers must optimise their in-store communication by identifying the locations where shoppers stand, pass by, make buying decisions quickly, or more deliberately

Even in this more economically prudent time it is claimed that up to three quarters of buying decisions are not made until the customer has entered the store. This shows the continuing relevance of in-store marketing and, with the current white noise in advertising and media, marketers are revisiting the in-store environment as a means to target the Irish consumer.

One of the most popular forms of in-store marketing is digital signage. These are usually customisable displays that deliver targeted content, such as product advertisements, weather updates, and news. These dynamic signs can be changed on-the-fly to reflect differences in the viewing audience from location to location, morning to afternoon and so on.

According to Eamonn Halligan, channel manager for professional products at Sony, digital signage is a very pointed and targeted way of communicating and is useful for several marketing scenarios such as creating promotions for new products, displaying new opening times and so on.

He said because of the statistic that three quarters of shoppers have not made their mind up on their purchases when they enter the shop it was important to influence them in any way such as displaying this week’s special offers. “Digital signage is quick and easy to update. On a day like this (it was, for once, a hot day at the time of the interview) you can get instant messaging across the customer base and maybe convince people that they need an ice cream on a sunny day, or pick up a few steaks and sausages for a barbecue. So there’s that type of flexibility, you can make the best of an opportunity on days like this.”

Gaining an advantage

So why is in store marketing becoming so popular and what advantages does it hold over more traditional forms of getting the message to the customer?

According to Halligan instore digital signage is quick and easy to upload and has an opportunistic advantage that other forms of marketing don’t. In addition, messages can be loaded onto as many screens as you want.

Simon Fine business development manager of DV4 said the success of digital marketing depended on implementation of the solution. He said some digital signage solutions are designed to be quite ambient, others more attention grabbing. Some have specific call to actions, (special price today, buy two get three etc) other solutions are more brand-building, ambience-creating.
Fine said it has been demonstrated that customers are five to 10 times more likely to notice dynamic versus static media and five to 10 times more likely to recall dynamic versus static media (Arbitron research) so good digital signage content can certainly increase the chance of influencing the customer.

“Content and content management is key here. Choosing what to say, when to say it, and whom to say it to is critical, and having simple, fast and effective control over your network of screens can make or break its effectiveness. Digital signage has advantages over other forms of advertising; it is immediate (with the right content management system), it can be targeted, it can be interactive and ultimately it can cost less than other forms of advertising, as with the right system, it is immediate and costs little resource to update content.”

Location, location, location

In terms of choosing an effective location within the store for digital signage, Fine said it varied from one store/retailer to another. He said examining and understanding the customer journey through the environment will facilitate the most effective understanding of where screen locations are optimal. “All types of signage, not just digital, suffer from poor placement. Signs may be mounted too high, on the wrong side of the store or in the clutter of shelving and décor where their impact is lost. You must ask yourself, where will shoppers be standing, passing by, where buying decisions are made quickly, and where they are more deliberate? Both content and screen location can be tailored to maximise impact. Generally, the lower (eye line) the better, and in a location where the shopper stands or is idle, rather than passing through.”

In terms of future advances in this area, Fine believes that communications will become more interactive (touch, SMS, Bluetooth) and network operators will segment and target content more frequently and in more of a niche manner. “Walmart TV is one of the five largest TV networks in the USA, however, the economies of scale we face do not really help the situation in Ireland, so we need to find smarter and more tailored applications of digital signage to convince marketing departments, especially in times of this heralded recession.”

Making the store a place customers want to be

Robbie Ward of BPM Media said in retail environments, digital marketing means communicating with customers about in-store specials, conveying brand messaging, and creating the right atmosphere to make your store a place that customers want to be.

Onelan NTB60x series digital signage media player. In-store digital marketing allows the retailer an extra revenue stream as he can charge the suppliers for advertising space

Onelan NTB60x series digital signage media player. In-store digital marketing allows the retailer an extra revenue stream as he can charge the suppliers for advertising space

He believes that with in-store digital signage, advertisers can use TV-style call-to-action ads to directly influence customers at the point of purchase, where research shows 70% of decisions are made. And he said branding campaigns on digital signage can be a quick and inexpensive way for brands to reinforce traditional TV promotions. “For a complete digital marketing strategy, stores must include audio and atmosphere in their digital marketing strategies. Audio and music can be as influential as visuals if used correctly in the right environment.”

According to Ward a great deal of research has shown that digital signage works best when placed near the point of purchase or strategically beside a product to be promoted.

He said too often retail stores fall into the trap of installing a screen over the tills to ‘entertain’ customers while queuing. “Screens at tills are ineffective because customers have already made purchasing decisions and are unlikely to be influenced by advertising content. A much overlooked factor of digital marketing is audio. While screens can be effective, they depend on customers looking at them. Audio (music and announcements) throughout a store can influence customers and create buying atmospheres if properly deployed.”

Interaction is the future

Ward believes the future of digital in-store marketing is interactive. He said increasingly, customers are being influenced and engaged by clever interactive technology in-stores, which help to focus customers towards marketing objectives and add to the overall customer experience.

With in-store digital signage, advertisers can use TV-style call-to-action ads to directly influence customers at the point of purchase, where research shows 70% of decisions are made

With in-store digital signage, advertisers can use TV-style call-to-action ads to directly influence customers at the point of purchase, where research shows 70% of decisions are made

“Another technology development to watch is audience measurement. For truly effective digital marketing we need to know who is looking at our screen and for how long. In the near future, BPM Media’s digital marketing platform will be fully dynamic, with the ability to change the atmosphere and serve adverts based on the customer profile currently in your store.”

Liam Sheehan audio visual sales manager, Osmosis Ireland said in-store digital marketing allows the retailer an extra revenue stream as he can charge the suppliers for advertising space. He said that major benefits of digital signs over traditional static signs are that the content can be exchanged without effort, animations can be shown, the signs can adapt to the context and audience, and even be interactive.

“Digital signage advertising is a form of out-of-home advertising in which content and messages are displayed on digital signs, typically with the goal of delivering targeted messages to specific locations at specific times. Digital signage offers superior return on investment compared to traditional printed signs.”

Sheehan believes the influence on the customer is quite pronounced saying that customers are inclined to be drawn to the advertised product on the screen and are apt to go with that product over others not so obviously advertised. “The customer is ultimately more informed about current promotions than with traditional poster advertising. It can also be used as an entertainment tool – with Onelan digital signage – the screen can be split between advertising and Live TV, offering customers the opportunity to watch their favourite TV programmes while also seeing product adverts.”

Make savings too

In terms of effectiveness over other advertising formats, Sheehan said the video format is very eye catching. It can also contain audio which will also attract a shopper’s attention. He said it was also a more cost effective and timely form of advertising. Screen shots, for instance, can be changed within a matter of minutes. “And there is no need to print off posters etc. Promotions can be changed on a daily basis if necessary – depending on your marketing objectives.

For larger retail chains – changes can be made to the network which then affects all screens connected to that network – this means it cuts back the human resources required for in store marketing also. This is the easiest and most cost effective way to communicate to their customers in-store.

Keep it simple

Digital signage is communications at a glance, so make sure the shopper can get your meaning quickly

 

 

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