Technology has transformed every aspect of our lives – from how we communicate with others to how we run our businesses. Innovative minds have developed new solutions for problems we never knew previously existed. Numerous industries across the board have experienced this transformation; however, in recent years, the retail sector, in particular, has witnessed an influx of digital signage solutions.
Understanding Digital Signage Solutions
Digital signage refers to an electronic display of information either on a single screen or spread across multiple screens. It is often used to advertise content, broadcast data, share messages, etc., to a specific audience.
Digital signage solutions, on the other hand, refer to digital signage that solves problems for its users. It can help businesses improve operations by assisting them in meeting their objectives. For example, a company might use a digital sign for advertising its current clothing line in its windows.
Growth of Digital Signage Solutions
According to recent data, the global signage market was valued at $21.49 billion (USD) in 2020 and is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% from 2021 to 2028. Various factors may be impacting the market growth of the industry, including a rise in demand for bright and power-efficient display panels, rapid digitalization and a decline in demand for traditional billboards, an increase in demand for 4k and ultra-HD devices, and emerging display technology such as microLED and Quantum Dots.
To accommodate this rapid growth, companies across the globe are turning to platforms such as Ombori Grid, which offers digital signage for a wide array of content types, including static images or text, videos, and multimedia.
Types of Digital Signage Solutions
Not all digital signage solutions are the same. Different options have emerged to accommodate the various demands of companies across all sectors, including retail, entertainment, hospitality, education, corporate, healthcare, transportation, etc. Here are some of the most common types of digital signage used today:
- Digital posters: Digital posters are placed on a wall and are the easiest to install. They are often housed in an LCD enclosure with a media player attached.
- Free-standing digital advertising displays and kiosks: Free-standing digital advertising displays and kiosks are floor-mounted displays commonly used to gain visitors' attention by obstructing their view or path in the store.
- Ceiling-mounted digital signage: Ceiling-mounted digital signage is attached to and hangs from the ceiling and is often used for advertising purposes.
These digital signage options can be utilized both indoors and outdoors. However, companies using outdoor digital signage must take additional precautions during installation to prevent theft and vandalism. Businesses must also consider how the weather might impact their displays.
Interactive Digital Signage
Today, interactive solutions have become more prevalent in the digital signage industry. Interactive solutions offer customers the opportunity to improve their overall shopping experience by connecting with the signage. For example, stores can provide interactive digital signs to help customers locate specific items within their place of business. Target Australia recently installed Ombori Endless Aisle in its flagship store on Bourke Street. Ombori Endless Aisle is "a series of in-store displays that combines in-store and online shopping experiences and gives customers a way to hand-off purchases and [conduct] product searches between mobile devices and in-store interactive displays."
Digital Signage Software
The aforementioned digital signage solutions rely on software developed specifically for the industry. Each solution includes four main software components:
- Media player software
Digital signage displays image and video content on-screen using media player software. The media player software receives images and videos from on-premise or cloud-based servers, deciphers the media files, and plays the content on the digital sign's screen.
Advanced media player software, together with content management software, can synchronize content between multiple screens.
This software has advanced significantly in recent years and no longer needs to be installed and run on a PC within the digital sign. Thanks to non-PC tech like Linux, Android, and system-on-chip systems, digital signage solutions are more lightweight and adaptable than ever.
- Content management and distribution (CMD) software
Companies use content management and distribution software to organize the media they will display on the screens. This organization and management involve:
- Creating "playlists" of what content will appear and in what order
- Configuring how long it will appear on the screen
- Synchronizing content across multiple screens
Content management systems and distribution software work behind the scenes to ensure the right content plays on specific digital signage at the right time.
- On-premise vs. cloud technology
Digital signage content must be stored in one of two places: on-premise or in the cloud.
On-premise storage refers to physical racks of servers owned and maintained by companies for content storage. On-premise storage is more customizable and does not rely on a third-party company. However, it does require a hefty upfront investment in server machines, temperature-controlled rooms in which to store them, and maintenance and upkeep costs.
In contrast, the "cloud" is remote server space owned by a third-party company, such as Amazon Web Services, for storing files, images, and other content. The third-party company covers the servers' maintenance, security, and uptime costs. Their customers pay a monthly "rent" for quick and easy access to their content from anywhere in the world.
A reliable content storage solution, whether on-premise or in the cloud, is essential to ensure that digital signs receive images and videos to display on the screen.
- Device management software
Companies that operate a network of multiple digital signs use device management software to monitor and control the devices remotely. Instead of maintaining each digital sign manually and individually, system administrators use this software to:
- Adjust the media content that plays on the signage
- Monitor memory consumption
- Control device temperatures to prevent overheating.
- Troubleshoot and address playback or network connectivity issues by remotely rebooting machines.
Device management software also makes installing system-wide software, firmware, and security updates on all machines easy.
Ombori Grid offers easy-to-use CMD technology to enhance the experience of customers. Its software offers super easy to create dynamic templates, direct integration between screens, mobile phone and IoT, and simple content scheduling.
Using Digital Signage
Digital signage offers numerous benefits to businesses and allows them to accomplish a variety of goals. Following is the most common applications of the technology:
- Providing public information
- Providing internal information
- Providing product information
- Providing information to enhance the customer service experience
- Advertising and promotion
- Brand building
- Influencing customer behavior
- Influencing product or brand decision-making
- Enhancing customer experience
- Assisting in customer navigation
- Allowing reservations
Ombori Grid Guided Selling Store Assistant
Some systems provide solutions that help businesses achieve multiple goals via a single customized digital signage tool. For example, Ombori Grid Guided Selling Store Assistant kiosks are located at Dufry duty-free outlets in the Madrid Airport and provide visitors with multiple solutions. They can use digital signage to improve their shopping experience, get directions, and find flight information.
How to Identify Your Best Digital Signage Option
With so many options available on the market, businesses are now confronted with determining which option is best for their operations. To proceed, businesses need to identify their needs. Here are a few questions to ask when trying to select the best digital signage solution for your business:
- What is the purpose of digital signage?
- Where do you want the sign to be installed?
- How many digital displays do you want?
- What content will be displayed?
- What is your budget?
- What is your timeline?
- Do you want interactive signage?
Once these questions are answered, businesses can better understand which technology best suits their needs and begin to explore solutions offered by select companies such as Ombori.
Benefits of Digital Signage Technology Within the Retail Space
To remain competitive in today's evolving marketplace, retail businesses must utilize the most up-to-date technology, including digital signage. Fortunately, businesses are likely to reap numerous benefits after implementing such technology.
"Digital signage helps everyone", we say at Ombori, summarizing the benefits of utilizing this technology for all associated parties:
- Provides the information they need, where and when they need it
- Improves their shopping experience
- Creates a seamless digital and physical experience for them
- Reduces time spent answering common customer queries
- Allows them to focus their time on other sales-related tasks
- Increases sales by promoting items
- Reduces time spent in-store and reduces occupancy issues
- Ensures consistency in messaging across multiple locations
- Generates data on what customers are interested in purchasing
For businesses that decide to utilize self-service kiosks, additional benefits are possible:
- Decreased wait times for customers or passengers
- Increased efficiency (and related profits) because more people can serve themselves in a shorter amount of time
- Less human interaction with staff, so your team members can do other things
- Multi-service functionality (for example, one system can provide information and take payments)
- Greater control for customers over how they interact with your company (improving their overall experience)
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.