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Digital signage is stepping into a bright future

The retail industry is on the cusp of a revolution that could transform the way we shop – and digital signage has a key role to play in this development.

That was the message from yesterday’s Digital Signage Summit ISE, sponsored by EDBAK. In a presentation, ‘Creating the Smart Retail Store of the Future’, Vidya Nagarajan, senior product manager Chrome & Android, Google, said that “Google sees huge opportunities in retail,” adding that “more than 90% of retail sales happen in bricks and mortar stores.”

Technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, intelligent tracking and smart digital signage displays that present information relevant to specific customers, could help make the shopping experience more personal and engaging, said Nagarajan.

She added that customers “want to buy the right product, in the right amount, in the right channel at the right moment.”

Jose Avalos, global visual retail director for Intel Corporation in the Internet of Things Group, said digital signage was bringing new functionality to devices like vending machines,

“A drinks vending machine that only offered ten flavours can now offer thousands, as well provide extra product information and advertising,” he said.

Many new retail developments will use analytics – collecting and analysing data to detect patterns of consumer behaviour, but Chris Riegel, CEO STRATACACHE, warned,

“Analytics are highly important, but our industry has been overselling it to retailers – we have tended to go too far, too fast.” He also noted that many retailers had had their fingers burnt by rushing into developing mobile apps “that hardly anyone uses.”

In a fireplace talk that looked at investment, Philippe Graf von Stauffenberg, chairman of the board, TRISON, admitted that his worst digital signage investment was “3D technology – it absolutely bombed.”

The Summit ended with a worldwide industry outlook panel, with representatives from the US, Europe, Russia, Latin America and Middle East, giving a mixed picture of market developments. While the Russian market was challenging, the US and Latin American markets were showing good potential.

The panel was also asked about the importance of content, “Content is king,” said Alberto Comolli, chief strategy officer, Kolo. Stewart Caddick, managing director, Connectiv Middle East, added, “You can’t spend 90% on a screen and 10% on the content – it just doesn’t work. Digital signage is a living animal, and once you buy it, you have to keep feeding it.”

Florian Rotberg, managing director invidis consulting, and Summit moderator, told the ISE Daily, “Many markets that were closed to digital signage because of return-on-investment, are now open to it, with retail being the biggest one.”