As sales tactics and marketing methods have evolved over the years, one form of advertising has endured for centuries, that of signage. Before retail became the huge multibillion-dollar industry it is today, shop owners and tradesmen would use signs to advertise their goods and services to local people and those visiting from elsewhere. This also helped them to build reputations and brands to then spread the word and promote more business. Today, digital retail signage is everywhere.
Some of the most substantial transformations within signage have come when new innovations and technologies such as electricity or digitization have been introduced into their design. With the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the same kind of transformation is currently shifting the landscape within digital retail signage.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought with it many benefits to a huge variety of different industries and sectors, and, with the addition of advanced automation, analytics, data storage and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to boot, the foundations of a new digital technological-driven future are being laid.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how the emergence and expansion of the Internet of Things has helped breathe new life into digital signage and given it both more capabilities and more potential than ever before.
So, how is the Internet of Things revolutionizing Digital Retail Signage?
Gaining Insights Through Data
One of the biggest benefits brought about by the introduction of smart devices and the growing network of connected ‘things’ is the huge amount of data produced by these devices. This data can then be turned into actionable insights through processing and analysis and be used to further improve specific services or areas of operation. When it comes to digital retail signage, there are several ways this can be done.
One of the most exciting ways in which digital retail signage has been revolutionized through the introduction of IoT technologies is the use of recognition systems to learn about customers and their decision-making processes. By understanding what makes their customers tick, retailers are then able to better refine and refocus their marketing and advertising efforts using the same digital retail signage that provided the insights.
Using built-in recognition systems, digital retail signage is now able to determine the sex and age of a customer as well as whether they have visited that specific store before, an ability that is now being put to use in loyalty schemes, for example.
Discovering which areas of a store receive the most foot traffic and determining which products would be of most interest to a customer based on their sex and age range are other ways in which the data produced by IoT-powered digital signage can be used.
Delivering Bespoke Customer Experiences
Once retailers have the means to understand the data they are now able to collect, they’ll need to put it to good use. Delivering bespoke experiences to customers has fast become one of the best ways to utilize IoT digital signage and many retailers are now putting their technologies to work in providing unique and customer-centric retail experiences.
As previously mentioned, recognition systems are among some of the best technologies for identifying a customer’s potential purchases as well as comparing purchase histories with stocked products to provide easy in-store location of items and the most relevant deals and offers for specific customers.
Security will be a big factor in whether or not the use of data to create such retail experiences are accepted, however, and efforts will need to be made on the parts of retailers to reassure customers that their data is properly secured and protected. There is also the alternative of ‘opt-in’ scenarios where customers would accept the store’s requirements, although these are often less desirable.
Privacy will play a large part in the eventual destiny of the Internet of Things as a whole, so how retailers and adopters in other industries react to customer security demands now may determine their long-term lifespan. It is likely, however, that new technologies will adopt privacy-by-design templates in order to provide a solution to this.
Future-Proofing Hardware & Infrastructure
Many of the technologies emerging as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the IoT focus on the utilisation and integration of data analysis and automation as well as some AI and virtualization technologies too. This means that, in order to best prepare themselves for future technological additions, retailers will need to ensure smooth upgrade paths for all new and existing infrastructure.
How services based on different platforms behave will be significantly influenced by the infrastructure they are built upon. In order to expand into future platforms and revenue streams, retailers will need to ensure their infrastructure can keep up with the technological advances we have yet to see. 5G communications networks, for example, will only benefit those who are able to use them.
There are also other aspects to consider such as the development of smart buildings and cities. Retailers will also need to prepare for a time when their digital signage is connected to the rest of the building, what kind of network infrastructure will they need to support their operations?
As we move into an increasingly connected future, the Internet of Things looks set to play a large role in the way in which digital retail signage is utilized. The infrastructure required to support such capabilities as described in this article are not tomorrow’s inventions, but today’s realities and their integration into digital signage systems will no doubt inspire the development of even more advanced systems in the years to come.