Magazine Article | March 1, 2005

Grocers, C-Stores Ripe For Digital Signage

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Broadband networks enable centralized digital signage; revenue generation justifies it.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, March 2005
Matt Pillar

Network-deployed digital signage typically consists of a central server feeding video and audio content to video screens placed in stores throughout the network. The technology is proving its value in several segments of retail, most notably electronics and apparel stores. These retailers are using it to supplement their marketing, CRM (customer relationship management), HR, and training initiatives. While the applications it supports are many, perhaps none can produce as significant a return on the digital signage investment as in-store CPG (consumer packaged goods) advertising. The grocery industry, in particular, stands to gain much from this application of digital signage. Nowhere are there more CPG vendors represented under one roof than in a grocery or convenience store.

CPG manufacturers have long been taking advantage of in-store outlets for promotion, but the targeted and flexible nature of digital signage makes it an advertising medium they're willing to pay a premium for. Think of digital signage as a dynamic, interactive billboard. You're the advertising agency selling and managing the space. Generating interest in promotions from supply chain partners can help you expedite digital signage ROI. Even better, a digital signage initiative that's integrated with your POS system can provide instant feedback on the effectiveness of promotions. This type of reporting can help solidify the value of digital signage advertising to CPG vendors, giving them good reason to increase participation, resulting in long-term revenue generation for your stores. Vendors have proven they'll pay the rent for this kind of dynamic, aisle-side promotion real estate, especially if it comes with a means of providing promotion performance metrics. Once you've justified the cost of adopting digital signage by identifying a revenue stream, aforementioned applications like HR and training can follow.

Device Cost, Broadband Drive Adoption
Digital signage network adoption is driven by an ever-declining cost of display devices (now offered by Dell, Epson, Planar Systems, and others) and improvements in network technology to facilitate display management. The technologies that enable its success are also improving. Before the advent of directional audio technology, for instance, multiple audio messages being broadcast simultaneously throughout the store competed for customer attention. But directional audio technology allows audio messages to be beamed only to a designated area - conceivably the immediate viewing area around the digital sign - eliminating conflict among the many sources of audio in stores. As a result, several digital signs can run separate audio content within the same store - or even within the same department - without creating any garbled, confusing chatter or drowning out the store's announcement system.

Modern broadband networks such as commercial-grade DSL (digital subscriber line), which is now available at prices less than $100 per month per location, enable the management of digital content on a central server. This gives you control of what plays where and when, enabling targeted messaging from one IP (Internet Protocol)-addressed display to the next. When considering the ROI case for digital signage in your store network, don't forget the positive impact CPG vendor advertising can have on the bottom line.