Signage offers retailers an opportunity to provide a unique customer experience, explained Tim Smith, Director of Business Development for Federal Heath. While signage used to play a utilitarian role by identifying the store by name on the exterior and identifying different departments, sales items and specialty areas within the store, it serves a more critical role today. “Now, the building itself is a sign, with architectural features such as canopies and awnings that tie into the overall brand,” he said.
Retailers are moving toward more digital signage on the building exterior as well, Smith pointed out. The resolution of today’s digital signs allows for more complex graphics than signs introduced 10 years ago, which means that investment in upgrades to these signs is a budget item FMs must consider, he suggested.
One of the emerging trends in signage is projector technology. Not only can a projector display an image on different surfaces, but projector mapping enables the display of multiple images that add different dimensions to the message.
Digital signage inside a store is a trend that will continue, said Shannon Markwell, Manager of Retail Facilities and Maintenance for Charlotte Russe. “Digital screens throughout the store or in store windows can share simple, specific messages that can be easily changed to reflect sales or new merchandise,” she said. “Videos that show how products can be used – such as how to put a fun outfit together – can help shoppers make decisions.”
The practical side of interactive digital screens throughout the store includes the ability to go online and order an item that may not be available in the store, which means the retailer does not lose the sale. Another benefit is the ability to quickly change messages and content, Markwell said. “We are a fast-fashion company, which means we need to change messages frequently to reflect fast-changing trends.”
Not only does the up-to-date visual experience support sales, but the technology eliminates the cost of designing, printing and shipping promotional signage as well as the labor to hang marketing signage throughout stores for promotions, sales and seasonal changes. “Although investment in digital signage throughout a store is significant, the return on investment is huge,” Markwell said.
Another cost savings generated by digital signage is energy savings, Smith pointed out. The use of LED lights along with timers and sensors that dim or turn off signage when no one is in the area contribute to overall energy savings.
Digital signage maintenance is most often managed by third-party partners but retailers with multiple locations can justify internal teams to manage the specialized installation and maintenance of interior digital screens. “One client who installed 10 to 12 screens in each of the company’s 600 convenience store locations set up and trained an internal team to install and maintain the screens,” he said.
No matter which maintenance approach is chosen, the move to digital signage is another example of how today’s FMs must expand their skill sets, Markwell said. “Educating ourselves and choosing the right vendor allows us to better support our store teams.”
By: Sheryl S. Jackson
Published: November 19, 2018