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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Beyond TV at Screenmedia Expo

Saturday April 30 2011

Preview of the digital out-of-home show coming to London’s Earls Court exhibition centre in May

Preview of the digital out-of-home show coming to London’s Earls Court exhibition centre in May


Retailers visiting Screenmedia Expo Europe in London will find that current thinking on the deployment of digital displays instore has moved far beyond the “TV in the aisles” model of early experiments.


Far more likely to be used now are a wide range of screen sizes, all the way from tiny shelf-edge units to video walls that form an integral part of the store’s interior design. Interaction is commonplace, whether through touchscreen interfaces or connectivity to mobile phones, allowing shoppers to receive e-coupons and the like.


Increasingly, the retail sector is taking an interest in audience-detection technology, which uses cameras and intelligent software to not only count the number of people who look at a screen, but also estimate their age, gender and ethnicity, and show appropriate content accordingly.


Big names showcase connected visions


One of the biggest technology vendors at Screenmedia Expo, the giant chipmaker Intel, will be using the event – which runs from 18 to 19 May at Earls Court 2 – to present its Connected Store project, employing a range of technologies to create an instore experience that is personalised, immersive and helpful to shoppers. For example, in the world that Intel envisages, customers browsing fashions could access a whole store’s inventory through a touchscreen, then mix and match items on a digital mannequin, before sharing the completed ensemble digitally with their friends.


However, the expo is not just about futuristic ambitions: there’s plenty of interest in digital screen rollouts from retailers right now, according to Adam Wilson, sales director of digital signage firm dZine. Wilson said: “Retail is growing rapidly with more and more large-scale projects throughout Europe. We believe this is due to the ability to monitor and record customer engagement to the displays. With the use of camera-recognition systems and interactive systems, it is easier than ever before to prove whether customers are viewing or using the digital system. Thanks to this, more and more brands are willing to pay for a digital campaign.”


The organisers also highlighted a system from US firm Insteo Display that retailers should also be interested in and is now being imported into the UK and Ireland by Blue Apricot Technology. Insteo lets customers post messages simultaneously to instore screens, as well as to their Facebook friends and Twitter followers, putting a retail-specific twist on the trend toward convergence of digital out-of-home, mobile and social platforms.


And for those whose goals are more modest, another major technology company, HP, will be joining forces with one of the longest-established digital signage specialists, Scala, to present a system for retailers that is quick and easy to implement.


Learning successful signage secrets


The learning programme that runs alongside the expo also promises to include much of interest to this sector. One of the highlights – with some potent implications for retailers looking to roll out digital screens – should be a presentation from Andrew McCall of the research firm ROI Team, examining how shoppers at Harrods responded to different creative executions of an instore ad shown on the extensive digital screen network at the Knightsbridge flagship.


Perhaps surprisingly, ROI Team’s researchers found that attitudes toward the advertiser were warmer among consumers who had viewed the spots that included moving video – and that they would spend more in the store, on bigger baskets, than those who had only seen a text-based version. What conclusion do the event’s organiser’s draw from this? That high-quality content, as well as reliable technology and above all a clear vision of how digital screens will contribute to overall business objectives, are essential ingredients for success with this new medium in the retail environment. And that applies whether you’re considering a simple replacement of static signage with more flexible and impactful LCD displays, or an all-singing, all-dancing network using the newest technology on display at Screenmedia expo.