What do you see as the five trends that will have the largest impact in the digital signage industry over the next few years?”
It’s hard to choose just five trends, but the ones that I think will have the greatest impact on the digital signage industry in the next few years are: new types of displays, increased mobile integration, more targeted content, using digital signs to improve the customer experience and analytics that will support better measurement.
Displays will be the most obvious change in the future. Plasma screens gave way to LCDs and more recently, LEDs. In terms of hardware, 4K UHD screens will come down in price and be more widely deployed. Interactive touchscreens will gain increased capabilities. Ultra-thin, flexible OLED screens, either single- or double-sided, will allow new design options. Digital signage will be designed into new stores from the get-go, rather than being an add-on.
Almost two years ago, a survey reported 90 percent of customers were using their cellphones in retail stores for price comparisons, product information and reviews. Mobile integration is now a two-way proposition, allowing retailers to know who is in their stores or whether they are loyalty program members, while also enhancing the information available to customers. Mobile will continue to increase its role in-store as more agile applications provide increased opportunities for both customers and retailers.
That mobile integration is just one aspect of the trend toward targeted content. Whether tied to Bluetooth beacons, RFID tags or other proximity detection devices, one-size-fits-all content in digital signage networks won’t be with us much longer. Running multiple channels in a single store was a first step. That gave way to messages targeted when a customer looks at an item on display or brings merchandise into a dressing room. Targeted messages will become even more impactful in the future.
In its earliest days, digital signage was mostly about information—an electronic “bulletin board” or a replacement for printed signs. Today, retailers are focused on the customer experience and looking for new ways to engage their customers. Digital signage will contribute to more experiential retail environments, define the essence of the brand and influence the way customers feel when they are in a store.
Finally, the elusive quest for ROI will lead to new measurement methodologies, whether for in-store or OOH signage. Retailers are learning new ways to make use of all of the data that is available to them from various in-store systems. Analytics, the science of parsing that data, provides the foundation for new ways to yield better-targeted content, more customer interaction and increased revenue that can be tied more closely to the influence of digital signage.