Wednesday, November 28, 2007

VM+SD grades digital signage deployments

I somehow missed this article that came out last month at VM+SD Magazine, where Sean O'Leary, the magazine's technical editor, marks off 10 years of covering the digital signage industry by taking a look at some of the current over- and under-achiever networks out there today. Looking at retailers like Anahi, American Eagle and FYE, O'Leary generally feels that digital signs have come a long way since the late 90s, though they still have a ways to go before becoming adopted as a standard part of any retail interior. One of the more interesting parts of the piece was his admittedly non-scientific survey of the local retail landscape, where he noted the following breakdown of stores that had digital signage networks:
  • department stores: 1 of 10
  • home furnishings: 0 of 10
  • book stores: 1 of 2
  • jewelry stores: 2 of 28
  • women’s fashion: 0 of 45
  • men’s fashion: 0 of 25
  • electronics: 3 of 14
  • beauty and health: 0 of 19
  • shoes (all types): 3 of 24
  • games: 0 of 4
  • sports/memorabilia: 1 of 5
  • youth fashion: 4 of 10
  • outfitters/extreme sportswear: 2 of 2
While we're so often focused on the major new deployments going out, from this simple survey it's clear that there's still an enormous amount of growth potential left in our little industry. Since he is writing for VM+SD, O'Leary focuses mostly on the visual impact of digital signage and its overall effect on the in-store experience. For example, he notes that the, "composite of young, edgy fashion shops (such as Metropark and D.E.M.O.) and action “outfitters” (such as American Eagle and Oakley)" are ahead of the curve when it comes to digital signage, probably owing to the, "age and coolness level of the target audience[s]" that they appeal to. His ultimate conclusion:
when I see great concept and execution – such as in the Anahí store – I become inspired and want to revisit Woodfield to share my great digital signage ideas. Think of it: If you’re stuck with a small storefront on the third level, why not invest in some eye candy to pull in customers from right across the mezzanine? Wouldn’t Lego increase sales with some videos of its robot kits? I wouldn’t be able to get my kids out of there. I wouldn’t be able to get me out of there.

During the first years of the slow-moving digital signage revolution, there were bottlenecks in almost every phase of the technology. But now, flat screens are dirt cheap; networking and delivery systems are reliable; and software abounds for scheduling and managing programs. All that’s lacking now is the will, the vision and the budget to tap into the power of this medium.
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