Your Name in Lights: Digital Signage and Digital Shopfronts

If the new wave of interactive retail technology is anything to go by, shoppers are thirsting for the experiences they provide. In-store projectors bring casual browsers in to play games, and human-scaled interactive kiosks provide a fun and attractive way of browsing digital catalogues  to compare prices and models.

Digital signage in action

Walk down the high street and you’ll see store windows with bright, outsized digital screens that increase awareness with offers or attractive on-brand images. Think of London Underground riders on the escalator: the ads that accompany them on the descent now move and crackle and are demonstrably better at capturing attention.

Topshop put digital signage to good effect when promoting Ivy Park, a much-anticipated activewear line, at their flagship store on Oxford Street. They flanked an enormous banner of founder Beyoncé wearing an Ivy Park swimsuit with campaign videos running on large screens in shop windows to maximise the impact.

A few studies have illustrated a growing preference for the ‘empowered’ ordering of meals that using a tablet affords the hungry patron. McDonald’s uses digital menu boards, and three years ago, Pizza Hut partnered with Chaotic Moon Studios to launch its interactive tabletop on which customers use swipe motions to make their own pizza. No word on whether this will end up moving past the prototype stage, but it certainly garnered a lot of attention at the time.

The integration of social media was just a matter of time, of course. In 2015, Coca-Cola’s ‘What’s in a Name’ campaign rewarded people tweeting their first name with the hashtag #CokeMyName by throwing fun facts about the name on a gigantic Times Square digital billboard two minutes later. Coke was apparently happy with the resultant hype. Meanwhile, across the border in Canada, National Bank was helping everyday banking customers celebrate the Rogers Cup of tennis by connecting their phones to screens in reception areas across the country so they could enjoy a little game, set and match of their own.

Challenges and solutions

The digital playbook tells us a few things about applying all this flashiness in a way that works. Messages should be refreshed frequently and fit in well with the broader marketing strategy. Where possible make the messages localised – a visual pun on current events, or the presence of a hometown spokesperson could do the trick, and never forget the data. If retailers are armed with useable demographic data, they should do just that: use it to pack an extra punch by tailoring the high-resolution messages now streaming across their high street windows.

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