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The Ultimate Guide To Digital Signage For Retailers

the-ultimate-guide-to-digital-signage-for-retailers

There has been a lot of focus in the retail industry lately on finding new ways to connect with consumers in-store and differentiate the brick-and-mortar experience from ecommerce.

One way retailers have incorporated the digital experience into brick-and-mortar stores is through digital signage. Digital signage is exactly what it sounds like: signs and screens you can use throughout your retail store that display ads, videos, traditional store signage, or any other message you want to relay to customers.

Digital signage opens up a myriad of new options for store displays and can make a real difference for customers.

68% of customers say digital signage would make them more likely to buy advertised products.

Forty-four percent even said it would influence them to buy the advertised product instead of a product they already planned to purchase.

What is digital signage?

Digital signage–display screens that convey a message–can be found at airports, restaurants, transit stations, retail stores, and on city streets. The message can be in the form of video, static image, text, interactive touch screens, or even live TV. 

In a retail environment, digital signage is instrumental to marketing the store—you can highlight new product releases, run an ad, promote a discount, or simply tell your brand’s story. The possibilities are limitless. 

Benefits of digital signage

There are numerous benefits of digital signage, including:

  • Draw in window shoppers and increase foot traffic
  • Share your brand’s story
  • Share product information and upsell/cross-sell
  • Bring your online efforts in-store
  • Generate loyalty

In a world where customers are used to scrolling through hundreds of pieces of content online in an hour, digital signage allows retailers to replicate those fresh experiences in the physical world. Imagine being able to change your message in a matter of seconds, rather than weeks. This means you can deliver specific calls to action which can be as simple as buy now, use this discount or promotional code.

Let’s look at a few ways digital signage can help boost customer experience and grow your bottom line.

Draw in window shoppers and increase foot traffic

With digital signage, you can create powerful and engaging displays that attract window shoppers. You can take it up a notch by creating displays that move, like a video. Interactive signs pique a shopper’s interest, encouraging them to walk in and check out your store. 

For instance, Bloomingdale’s put up this interactive display where you can try out sunglasses simply by standing in front of the display. 

AR window display
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Increase store foot traffic with Shopify

Shopify comes with built-in tools to bring more online shoppers to your store. Manage your Google Merchant Center listing without leaving your point of sale, show each product’s availability across all store locations, offer in-store pickup, and more.


Share your brand’s story

Even if you plaster your store with signage that talks about your brand, you only have so much space. Digital signage removes that limitation—you can tell your story the way you want. 

Retailers like Toms and Ben & Jerry’s are known more for their brands than their products. It’s the story that draws customers in and keeps them coming back. Digital signage frees up the square footage to tell that story right in your store, and offers you a high-tech, visual way to relay your brand story to shoppers.

Share product information and upsell/cross-sell

One effective way to use digital signage is to display information on your top-selling products. Right from product material details to comparisons with other products, these displays can help your customer make an informed buying decision and free up sales associates’ time.

Speaking of productive time usage, consider programming your digital displays to share promotions, complementary products, add-ons and extra packages. Automated digital stations can help you grow your revenue beyond what the sales associates are already doing. 

💡 PRO TIP: Try using apps to upsell and cross-sell more effectively. Apps like Marsello and Frequently Bought Together integrate with Shopify POS and recommend products to store staff based on what they’ve added to a customer’s cart, making it easier than ever to suggest relevant products, increase basket sizes and order value.

Bring your online efforts in-store

Are you actively marketing your brand online? How about sharing some of those efforts in-store? If you’re collecting customer testimonials from online buyers, for instance, consider sharing them through a digital display. Customers love social proof, and it can help them in their buying decision. 

Did you recently write a blog post about the top benefits of your product? Consider creating an infographic and sharing it through a digital display. Succinct content on the display can help customers instantly understand the advantages of buying the product; because they have to explain less, it also makes the sales associates’ job easier. 

💡 PRO TIP: Offering in-store pickup as a delivery method at checkout is a great way to get more online shoppers to visit your store. To get started, enable local pickup availability in Shopify admin to show online shoppers whether a product is available for pickup at one of your stores.

Generate loyalty

By simply adding engaging content on a screen near the register–to sign up and use your loyalty programs, download your brand’s mobile app, or sign up for the weekly newsletter—you can draw your customers closer. The possibilities are endless. 

Since they’re already waiting in the queue, near-the-register displays are also a great place to play longer storytelling content that talks about your brand and its mission. This not only engages the viewer, it also cuts down perceived wait times and helps create a better customer experience. 

📌 GET STARTED: Choose from hundreds of loyalty apps in the Shopify App Store and start rewarding shoppers for purchases they make both online and in-store.

Components of digital signage

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Content

While there are multiple ways to set up digital displays at your retail store, the essential parts of a digital signage system remain the same. 

1. Hardware

You need two pieces of hardware to set up digital signage.

Digital displays: As the name suggests, a digital display is simply a screen that plays your content. Although they look similar to normal television sets, digital signage displays can be operated for 24 hours without screen burns. Other types of digital displays include digital menu boards, video walls, transparent LED displays, digital kiosks, and interactive touch screen displays.

Media player: A media player is a device that connects to the display and sends content to it. These players also connect to the Internet, allowing you to change content on the digital signage through a web-based portal. 

2. Software

You need a content management system (CMS) to show content on your digital display. There are different types of CMS available but you should ensure that the CMS is equipped with the following must-have features:

  • Uploading and organizing the content
  • Creating a playlist
  • Distributing content to multiple screens 
  • Ability to show various content formats including text, image, video, and webpages

3. Content

Digital signage is only as effective as the content it plays. Content is regarded as the biggest cost component of digital signage, since you constantly need to update it to make sure it stays relevant. In terms of display content types, here are a few you can try:

  • Slides/presentation 
  • Photos
  • Graphics/illustrations
  • Animations
  • Videos
  • 3D graphics and videos
  • Live feeds

Types of digital signage

  1. Smart mirrors
  2. Digital displays
  3. Self-checkout kiosks
  4. Interactive screens

Digital signage comes in many shapes and forms—some are simple, static images, while others offer some degree of interactivity. 

1. Smart mirrors

Smart mirrors are for shoppers who require a little guidance on finding the right product for themselves. They allow shoppers to see what appears to be a reflection of themselves as they try on different options or find the right size. 

For example, H&M has recently rolled out smart mirrors at select COS stores in the United States. This is H&M’s second iteration of smart mirrors—they previously launched voice-activated mirrors a few years back. 

Smart mirror
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These COS stores will carry smart mirrors in fitting rooms that can identify customers’ product selections, and provide personalized product/styling recommendations. You will also find these smart mirrors on the sales floor for virtual try-on and general styling. 

2. Digital displays

These are your typical digital signage where a screen plays some kind of media to attract or engage customers. Digital displays are pretty common in restaurants highlighting their menus or at retail stores promoting offers or sharing their tagline/mission statement. 

Here’s an example from MAC Cosmetics displaying a tweet about their “multitasking primer”.

MAC Cosmetics tweet display
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3. Self-checkout kiosks

Self-checkout kiosks have been around for some time; retailers like Walmart, Target, and CVS have widely adopted them to help customers exit the store faster while freeing retail associates for other tasks. 

Other retailers like Circle K and ampm have adopted a faster solution called Mashgin, where customers don’t need to scan each item— instead, the countertop uses artificial intelligence to identify products automatically, which, in turn, helps customers check out within a matter of seconds. 

📌 GET STARTED: With Shopify Payments, you can accept all popular payment methods and local currencies for a convenient, high-converting checkout experience at your stores and online.

4. Interactive screens

Interactive screens are an excellent way to reel customers into a retail store and keep them engaged. These screens are innovative, employ advanced tech features (like bluetooth, RFID, infrared touch), and are miles ahead of a basic video on loop. 

For instance, GE Lighting created a display that allows customers to press buttons to create different scenarios. In one situation, pressing and holding a knob plays music through a bulb. In another, the demo shows a bulb adjusting from daytime to nighttime lighting. The last act generates a fake lightning storm that causes the power to go out. After the light box goes dark, the bulb pops back on to highlight the battery backup feature.

Light bulbs display
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4 examples of digital signage

Many larger retailers are already finding creative ways to leverage digital signage in their stores. That means there are plenty of innovative use cases from which you can draw inspiration.

1. Adidas’ digitally inspired store

Adidas recently opened a digitally inspired store on Oxford Street in London that spans over 26,000 square feet. Besides being wholly enabled by tech with personalizations at every step, this store boasts two digital “fitting rooms”. 

Adidas digital fitting room
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The first fitting room has mirrors that use RFID technology to detect products instantly and provide the necessary information. Shoppers can also request different sizes and colors without ever leaving the room. 

The second type of fitting room boasts an immersive experience—a giant screen allows the customer to choose a backdrop and check out the product they’re trying on in a real-world environment.

2. Nordstrom and ease of shopping

Nordstrom is using digital signage to make shopping for jeans much less frustrating. Their “Digital Denim Doctor” display uses 360-degree imagery, intelligent programming, and filters to give shoppers a clear path through the choice process. 

Digital Denim Doctor
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The display recommends the best jeans for your body type, lifestyle, and fabric preferences, so you don’t need to browse endless racks of denim.

3. Sephora’s try before you buy

Makeup and skincare is one category of product customers always want to try before they buy. Sephora listened to its customers and created the ModiFace digital display. Customers can virtually try on Sephora products without having to carry makeup remover wipes. 

Sephora digital makeup display
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The ModiFace technology means Sephora sees fewer product returns and exchanges, and it can help draw attention to Sephora’s pop-in stores within larger retail spaces.

4. AdoreMe’s perfect fit

Finding the perfect fit for each body type is a challenge in the world of fashion. Fortunately, AdoreMe has implemented a possible solution at its 7000-square feet Tennessee store.

The store showcases nine large fitting rooms equipped with 3D body scanners from Fit3D, designed with two separate spaces to allow the sales associate to come without violating the customer’s privacy. 

3D body scanner
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After being scanned, customers can sit at a desk in a consultation area with a retail sales rep who can help them order the right fit and shape for their body type. AdoreMe recommends that customers get a new scan every six months to ensure they are wearing the correct size.

Choosing the right digital signage solution

  1. Aligns with the brand
  2. Improves customer experience
  3. Scalability
  4. Budget

With all these benefits and amazing use cases of digital signage, you’re probably ready to whip out your wallet. It’s important, however, to understand which solution is the right fit for your business. 

1. Aligns with the brand

Digital signage is used across all industries, from healthcare to restaurants. You need a solution specifically designed for retailers. Even within this niche, there are solutions catering to smaller retailers (like Yodeck) and those that entertain enterprise brands (like Spectrio).

Do your research, get demos, ask for case studies and then make your informed decision. 

2. Improves customer experience

Many of the most effective uses of digital signage for retail involve customers interacting with the display.

To get the most out of digital signage, you need a solution that supports engagement and interactivity. This can mean anything from setting up interactive screens to changing content at a moment’s notice to cater to the audience’s immediate needs.

3. Scalability

Whether you expect your retail business to grow a little or a lot (or you just regard your digital signage as a channel to scale), the last thing you want is to have to change systems as you expand. You want to invest in a solution that can grow with you and your store.

4. Budget

Of course, budget needs to be a consideration.

I think if you’re thinking about a budget to start trialing digital signage, you’re looking at about the $5,000 budget range to start.

Again, the budget depends on your goals and how much you have put aside to spend on digital signage. Some brands spend millions on digital signage, while boutique retailers spend a few thousand.

Leverage digital signage at your store

Bringing digital signage into your store opens up a world of new possibilities for promoting products, serving customers, and enhancing the store experience. You can launch signage by playing your best product ad, or take it up a notch by setting up interactive screens and self-serve checkouts. Either way, make sure you find the right solution that fits your business.

Sell online and in-person with Shopify

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This originally appeared on the Shopify Retail Blog and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.

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