Placing Digital Screens in a Retail Window

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A few quick points to make sure it’s a success….

Apple Store 03 wm

A display in a window is an insight into your store for those that pass by every day. A successful digital signage solution showing eye-catching, dynamic content could be the trigger for that passerby to actually walk through your door for a significant uplift in sales. For this reason, there are many high street retailers with requirements for commercial-grade LCD digital signage solutions that are public- facing, ranging from a single small display through to a number of massive displays.

Unfortunately, not all ‘solution providers’ have the knowledge or experience to deliver a solution that will deliver the expected outcome for the client or is fit for purpose. A bad solution reflects (literally in some cases) on your brand and products and might as well not be there if it’s not visible, has poor content or shows errors and notifications from the operating system.

So why is digital signage in a high street window any different from that installed throughout the sales floor? The sun and other environmental factors, if not considered during the project consultation phase, can cause major headaches once installed. In no particular order, I’ll point out some of the more common problems you may have seen in the window of a high street store near you. I may use the words screen, display, unit, LCD and panel throughout this document; I use them interchangeably. This is not an exhaustive guide, but there are many things that can go wrong with your digital window installation:

The screen image is barely visible, the color is flat, and it’s generally difficult to make out the message:

Failed Londis 01

This could be something as simple as the display not being bright enough. Screen brightness is measured in nits or cdm2. As an example, a typical desktop monitor will be around 200 to 300 cd/m2, and a commercial display used in digital signage will be anything from 400 to 750 cd/m2. For a screen to be used in a north-facing window, we recommend using a minimum of 1000 cd/m2 and south, east & west would be a minimum of 2000 cd/m2. Another important factor to consider is the anti-glare and anti-reflectivity properties of the display. There’s no point installing something that has very little anti-reflective properties and so looks like a mirror. Ask your supplier to quote for a panel with less than 2 percent reflectivity, and you’ll be on to a winner. Finally, check the ambient light sensor works and make sure the brightness is turned up!

The screen goes black during the day when in the sun:

Failed Whitegates 01

Let’s face it LCD displays hate the sun, because it causes the panel to heat up and eventually turn black. This is after becoming discolored and unsightly.  

The sun’s surface emits about 63 million watts of energy per square meter. By the time the energy reaches the Earth, after traveling more than 93 million miles, it hits the display surface with over 1,200 watts/m2 of energy, which in turn, causes the temperature of the Liquid Crystal cell to increase significantly, even on the coldest of days. The end result is the Liquid Crystals boil and turn black; this is what is known as solar clearing. Most consumer and commercial screens blacken or result in isotropic failure when the LCD panel overheats. Sometimes, this can be as low as 60ᵒC. When we install window displays that face south, east or west, we make sure our panels are high-temperature LCD panels capable of withstanding temperatures up to 110˚C without blackening – crucial for direct sunlight applications.

The screen fails soon after installation:

Failed Rowlands 01

Consumer TVs are not designed to be used in an environment other than in the home or other highly controlled environments and so are made using components that don’t need to be as robust as those in a commercial environment.

Because of this, those trying to cut costs will notice screen image and component problems sooner than should be expected. Installing the correct commercial displays will give you many years of service whilst providing a high-quality, visible image in all ambient conditions.

The screen too bright at night or dark during the day:

It’s important that the screen you choose is able to respond to the different light levels from day to night throughout all the seasons. An image that is too bright during the hours of darkness can be difficult to view and can cause glare for drivers. The panel should be able to dynamically adjust the brightness to keep your message viewable at all times. Again, whilst many consumer displays have ambient light sensors, they don’t have the range of adjustment often required for a commercial requirement. When considering an outward-facing digital signage deployment, don’t gloss over conversation about the sun.

Ipswich Building Society 01

Summary

Commercial environments and cheap screens don’t mix well. If you’re looking at rolling out a digital signage solution for engaging with customers on the shop floor, back-of-house communications with staff or digital window displays, then use a company that can show examples of other successful installations in your sector and speak with those customers about their experience.

About Author

Avtar Singh has more than 30 years of technical experience including expertise in roject management & delivery, UX & UI design, Electronic Control Automation and IT network design, implementation and management.

As the founding director of Digital Media Systems, he has a passion for delivering high-impact digital signage and audiovisual communications to organizations throughout the UK and Europe. Singh and his team have delivered solutions to every level of the business from small retail outlets to globally known brands such as Yankee Candle, Rolex, Apple, GSK and nPower.

Digital Media Systems, provide solutions based around their own range of squareVIEW© branded Digital Signage, Tier 1 hardware such as Sharp & NEC, and their premium entry level DMS Pro range of 24/7 rated commercial LFDs. Singh’s experienced team has the customer focus and technical capability to deliver the highest standard for any size project and the attention to detail in the consultation and pre-installation stages that ensures they deliver what they promise.

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