Magazine Article | June 21, 2006

Improve Flexibility, Decrease Costs With Digital Signage Solution

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

A university bookstore saves a minimum of $5,000 per year with a digital signage solution.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, July 2006

The University Cooperative Society, Inc. at the University of Texas is a non-profit association that furnishes books, supplies, and clothing to the students and faculty of the university. The bookstore on the Austin, TX campus had a prime spot for advertising to the students — an 18-foot-by-10-foot empty wall next to the stairs leading to the second floor of the store.

The store would hang high-quality banners (made using a banner printer) on the wall to promote sales and announce campus activities. “Every time we created a banner, we used approximately $400 in supplies,” says Tom Steele, VP of operations for the University Cooperative Society. “We changed the banners [and the messages displayed] approximately 12 times per year, which equates to $4,800 for the paper and ink. After factoring in the labor costs necessary to create, print, and hang the banners, our costs certainly surpassed $5,000 per year.” Additionally, it sought a way to avoid ladders necessary to hang banners.  Therefore, the bookstore investigated the use of digital signage to convey messages instead of paper banners.

Steele was the primary decision maker tasked with finding another way to display messages to bookstore customers. “We needed to modify the messages displayed on the wall without incurring significant expenses for paper, ink, and labor,” says Steele. Knowing that the store needed to project an image on the wall, Steele looked at a variety of sources. After examining other digital signage solutions as well as other methods of banner creation, Steele chose the Epson PowerLite 8300i Projection System. “We selected the projector we felt was the easiest to use, had the brightest display, and had the crispest image that was sharp enough to draw people’s attention,” explains Steele.

Epson installed the device and taught the store employees how to manage and upload content via an online networking system using the Epson EasyManagement technology. This technology enables real-time changes to displayed messages without a PC connection. Presentations, which can be static, moving images, or flash movies, can be placed on the projector through a memory device or network connection. The marketing team at the bookstore now has the ability to upload content from their offices and view the content remotely. Additionally, the unit is generally maintenance free. It can send e-mail alert messages when its temperature heats up or if the fan and/or lamp are not working properly.

Speedy Payback Stirs Possible Expansion Of Use
The co-op bookstore anticipates its payback for the digital signage solution to be approximately a year, due to the amount it saves in banner materials and labor costs. It also receives additional revenue streams by partnering with other university-affiliated departments to display information through the digital signage solution. An example would be an advertisement for a new museum the university is promoting. The bookstore also plans to review the potential solutions for using digital signage in its second-story storefront windows. Currently, mannequins fill the area, but the bookstore could better exploit this area to communicate messages to prospective customers outside. “Once we find a solution that can adequately handle the sunlight challenges in this environment, we’ll add a wall or screen in the window to display messages,” says Steele. “We’d also like to use remote management networking to coordinate digital messages with other campus locations. Therefore, when a solution is found, we plan to implement it at our four additional campus locations within the University of Texas, as well."