Digital Signage: Going Micro at POS

Digital signage NEC

When I hear “digital signage,” the term immediately evokes images of the monstrous and lurid mosaic of electronic displays in Times Square. Most vividly, the Walgreens’ sign, whose red backdrop is so flashingly bright I fear for my retinal health. That may seem neither here nor there, but the point is, digital signage can make a big impact, even in smaller campaigns, using smaller signage. In fact, micro digital signage has gained momentum recently as a means of engendering more personal consumer interaction.

Digital signage includes everything from airport arrival and departure boards to iPad touch screen kiosks at the retail point-of-sale (POS). Marketing folks love the adaptability of it. Friday super sale? No problem. Program the sign to run sale specific content at a certain time. It makes plastering paper posters up on walls seem kind of old school, doesn’t it?

Recently, BMW dealerships across Italy replaced paper POS displays with digital signage. Friendlyway, maker of digital signage such as displays and interactive kiosks, produced 100 totems for the dealerships. The system mixes interactive media with one-way content in an innovative way: the BMW kiosk normally displays informational content, much the way a screen saver would. However, when someone steps in front of the display, it becomes an interactive screen.  For me, there is a wow factor in that, consistent with BMW’s image.

In an equally snazzy move, Intel recently showcased micro digital signage. The application of the technology was displayed as signage for supermarket shelves. Basically, the little plastic price tags for cereal, milk, and the like were replaced with miniature, full-color, digital signs. More than just price-identifiers, the signs can provide additional information to shoppers who interact with the touch screens. They can also provide inventory management to store managers, detecting when a product is low and triggering an order. Cool? Yes. Is the local grocery looking for this kind of (expensive to implement) wow factor? I doubt it.

But, there are other applications for these point-of-sale digital signs. I would call them point-of-consideration signs, given that the existence of more information while a customer is debating a purchase can make or break the decision. Higher-end retail, like consumer electronics, may find more use for micro digital signs with a higher return on investment.

Small, though not necessarily micro, digital signage is already gaining popularity in retail settings and in the food service industry. The popularity of the iPad and other tablets as traditional point-of-sale alternatives is a weighty example. When relevant information is combined with a purchase option in the same kiosk, totem or interactive sign, the steps in a purchase decision are streamlined: a big win for marketers.


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