Digital signage is a diverse market, and integrators seeking to enter it need to choose where they want to specialise. The retail sector is a potentially lucrative choice, says Ian McMurray.
According to market researcher IHS, the worldwide digital signage market stands at around $14 billion – and, with continued growth expected to be in the range of 4.7-5.6%, it will be worth some $17.1 million by 2017. That’s $3 billion of business up for grabs – and someone, somewhere is going to have to integrate all those screens and players and cables, together with the content and management, and provide ongoing service and support. By any standards, that’s an attractive business opportunity.
But industry insiders agree that digital signage isn’t a single homogeneous market – and that’s the first thing an integrator thinking of entering the market needs to understand. It comprises multiple individual markets – corporate communications, wayfinding, retail, DOOH, sports, hospitality, visitor attractions, healthcare, leisure, houses of worship and education to name but a few – each representing a different opportunity and with unique requirements.
“Retail, compared to other sectors, is still in its infancy and presents a huge opportunity, not least because there are fewer established integrators in this sector,” believes Craig McQueen, solutions sales manager at NEC. “On the high street, flagship stores are where the big retailers are testing the benefits of retail signage, before nationwide roll-outs. For an ambitious integrator, the retail sector presents a great opportunity to prove ROI, where clever signage can directly affect customer behaviour and sales uplift.”
Carl Rijsbrack, CMO at Barco LiveDots, agrees about retail. “An integrator can be active in all domains of digital signage: both in content delivery and infrastructure integration, skills and expertise are highly demanded,” he notes. “This demand is growing the fastest in the field of retail and advertising, since this is a market segment where innovative and custom solutions are required.”
For Oliver Schwede of specialist digital signage consultancy Invidis, a challenge facing an integrator looking to move into a new market is the need to invest time and money in market intelligence, sales and marketing knowhow and generating leads.
“That may mean that the best digital signage vertical market for an integrator is one in which he has existing customer relationships and/or segment understanding,” he says. “Besides retail, corporate communications is potentially attractive. Most integrators already have an existing relationship with medium and larger corporations. Convincing the customer to install welcome boards, floor directories and electronic information boards is a lot easier. Retail seems the most attractive – and it is – due to the large number of outlets. But it is also the most competitive segment.”
Picture: Saville Audiovisual recently installed new digital signage systems across 27 Burger King locations located at Welcome Break motorway service areas in the UK. The systems comprise multiple LG 42in LED displays driven by Brightsign media players.