Mastering the Medium of Digital Signage

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Mastering the Medium of Digital Signage

By Richard Ventura, NEC Display Solutions - 08/05/2013

For most people, shopping in a convenience store seems like a simple undertaking. Consumers enter, select the items they are looking for, walk up to the counter and purchase them. That seemingly simple task, however, consists of many minor decisions and points of influence along the way.

Which convenience store does the shopper select? Are there any sales to drive the decisions? Are there tertiary goods to go with this decision? Which brands do you choose? How does one influence those decisions, especially when they can be made on a whim?

Many restaurant and retail establishments are already developing and incorporating digital signage into their environments to drive sales and now, convenience store operators are seeing the benefits as well. Digital signage can do so much more to help store owners boost profits and improve brand loyalty. Convenience stores need to be willing to think beyond simply conveying products and prices by utilizing a new medium to target consumer spending.

The first area to focus on is the use of digital menu boards vs. traditional print/static menu boards. This is a space where you have a captive audience trying to decide between a hamburger, a corn dog or a burrito. Why not use this space to also cross-promote and market beverages, desserts and even healthier eating options within the store? This is a great chance to impact the bottom line as those products tend to be more profitable for the store.

Another key area of focus is the front counter. For convenience stores, the most important point of decision is the front counter. Customers must go here to make a purchase and they have one last chance to decide if they want buy an additional item before leaving. While many stores have static signage guiding people there already, digital signage allows operators to expand what they advertise and point out a specific sale as customers are getting ready to check out.

Placing digital signage with promotional messages alongside the queue line can get customers interested in adding items to their orders before they even reach the counter — especially if those signs include compelling video. For example, an owner can push a particular food item or special through the signage system by showing a cascade of steaming hot fries falling onto a plate in slow motion, rather than a traditional static image of a box of fries.

Another opportunity to catch incremental sales is to market products at the fountain soda stations. Convenience store owners can use these opportunities to suggest the customer add a food item to their purchases. Suddenly, a soft drink turns into a more profitable total sale.

By going digital, a convenience store is able to utilize new marketing tactics in order to draw attention toward their products. The use of video and motion will help aid in attracting the consumer’s eye to the products and goods. Incorporating items such as steam off a burger or condensation on a soda, the store operator can entice the customer to purchase that product. This has now become a selling asset for them.

Further, digital menu boards make it easier to add new or limited-time offerings. The signage can be changed from within the store or from a central location, allowing for immediate changes and cutting down on paper signage costs while also maintaining continuity across all locations.

Stores also can incorporate amusing video as a form of entertainment for those within the store. The simplest form of “infotainment” is to run cable or satellite feeds to designated displays within the store. While relatively easy to accomplish, owners run the risk of showing competitive ads within their environments, especially during peak traffic periods.

However, this opens the opportunity for unintentionally displaying offensive material. Therefore, the best way to incorporate infotainment is to look at a digital out-of-home network (DOOH) that is focused on delivering relevant information and allows the brand to market products and services to the customers.

DOOH software companies work with convenience store owners to create content specifically for that store and their target demographics, or even create the chain’s own channel where content is tailored to its needs and the brand’s own commercials can run between segments. Franchisees may also want to consider offering up some of the time on its screens to digital advertisers that will sell time to complement or augment their current ad networks. This creates a secondary revenue stream, requiring no effort or maintenance by the franchisee.

It’s important to remember, though, that the signage can do more than just advertise a particular item or sale. It can set the tone for the whole store. The signage can create a feeling of consistency and promote a professional image, free from the clutter created by ever-changing static signage.

Rather than simply replacing static signs with digital displays, take advantage of the flexibility and powerful imagery offered by going digital. It can transform what was once considered a simple purchase into one that’s now full of new possibilities.

Richard Ventura is director of sales for vertical solutions at NEC Display Solutions. He can be reached at [email protected]

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.