As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.S., businesses large and small jumped into action to address everything from health precautions to changing hours to new services and product offerings. Many also took full advantage of one particular asset: Digital signage. The pandemic, perhaps more than any other business disruption, clearly highlights the benefits of digital signage solutions, and businesses seeking to remain competitive will continue to lean into this technology as we settle into a new normal.
During the pandemic, as consumers experience radical shifts in their shopping habits, in-store digital signage is proving its value, mostly in supermarkets. Food Lion, for example, uses digital signage to remind customers to remain two shopping cart lengths apart to reinforce social distancing, while other stores have adopted the practice of regularly updating the availability of items in high demand (“Toilet paper in stock, Aisle 10!”). Likewise, restaurants have seamlessly shifted from featuring their regular menu offerings to highlighting limited selections, special items, or even grocery options via digital menu boards.
Digital signage makes sense outside the store too. At the drive-thru, flexible digital signage ensures that menus are always up to date so no customer has to hear that their selection is not available. Digital signs facing the sidewalk or parking lot make it easy for stores to announce changing hours, special offerings, or temporary closures without customers having to step outside their cars. Many retailers also use their outside-facing, brightly lit, easy-to-read, and regularly updated digital signs to announce curbside pick-up, grab-and-go meals, and store re-openings.
Activating digital signage in these ways isn’t just practical. It makes a meaningful difference in the customer experience. As strategy firm McKinsey observes, the pandemic has changed the very definition of customer care: “Suddenly, examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics to inform what customers want have given way to an acute urgency to address what they need.”
As their research notes, especially in trying times, a customer’s experience with a brand can have a long-term effect on trust and loyalty. In an uncertain and competitive time, businesses should harness every advantage to improve the customer experience.
In an environment of constant change, customers seek accurate, updated, and timely information; and digital signage offers ultimate visibility and flexibility. With cloud-based CMS systems programmable from anywhere – and with minimal human resources required – today’s digital signage is a highly adaptable and powerful means to engage consumers. It’s not just customers who are better served by digital signage capabilities during the pandemic. The shift benefits employers and their staff as well. From digital training to on-boarding essential new hires and break room televisions featuring important hygiene and new store practices, businesses are relying on digital signage to improve the employee experience and enhance timely communications in this challenging time.
Digital signage has proven to be a valuable asset for businesses forced to react quickly to the recent pandemic, and it has clear advantages for enhancing customer and employee experiences, even in a post-COVID world. Digital signage more easily conveys information to customers interested in details like product sourcing, ingredients, and functionality. Someday soon, we hope timely messages about high-demand products will evolve from the availability of disinfectant wipes to summer specials on ice cream. For addressing today’s unique needs and planning for the future, now is a good time for businesses to maximize the potential of their existing digital signage assets or introduce them for the first time.