Digital signage is a powerful communications tool
Digital signage is a powerful communications tool, that when used effectively, engages your customers and increases sales. Messaging via digital screen enables you to promote or feature particular products, educate your customers and enhance the in-store experience.
According to InfoTrend research in December 2013, the digital signage market is growing at a rate of 40 percent per year as digital screens are being used by many businesses to give them an edge over their competitors, particularly at retail. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to continue at 8.94% through 2020. (Source: TMC News article 2014).
Worth the Investment
Currently, and for these reasons and others, retail is the leading industry for digital signage, making up 25% of sales as 68% of customers note that digital signage would make them more likely to buy advertised products. Forty-four percent even stated that it would influence them to buy the advertised product instead of a product they already planned to purchase. (Source: Nielsen in-store networks survey, 2006)
When Nielsen tracked 120 grocers who use digital signage in their stores, they found that 80% of them saw as much as a 33% boost in sales, when compared to the use of print signs.
These numbers are compelling, another reason why digital signage also complements current marketing and merchandising strategies to further enhance the shopping experience, build loyalty and increase sales. By using digital signage to provide relevant information to customers at point of purchase, retailers have generated higher brand awareness and sales lift.
Digital Signage is Useful, Convenient and Effective
Compared to the use of static signs, which are costly and time consuming to print and install – and wasteful upon disposal, digital screen images are visually compelling. Moving images on the screen attract and hold customer attention helping to ensure that you engage customers effectively.
Importantly, the messaging is instantaneous because messaging can be changed on your own computer to feature different products or information – if necessary, at different times of day. Which means that you are in control of what is being displayed and can change messaging as required to benefit your business.
Digital signage is not just a great way to share news, product and updates regularly while a customer is in-store, but it also enhances the customer experience.
Enhance the Customer Experience
Digital signage can transform the in-store customer experience elevating the perception of your dispensary, while at the same time putting customers at ease with information that is relevant to their visit. Having digital signage at point of sale helps to educate and guide customers in their purchase journey demystifying product and making it easier to buy.
Because customers aren’t separating their online and offline retail experiences, they expect to have a connected experience wherever they shop. Adding digital signage in-store and supporting messaging via social media is one way of providing unified messaging.
Digital Signage Applications
Digital screens can be used in a variety of ways, from infotainment to capturing point-of-purchase activity, to creating an alternate stream of revenue via advertising:
- Menu Boards – Product menu boards are an easy way to showcase the products you carry and highlight featured products.
- Interactive Screens – Interactive screens or kiosks can provide additional information via selection menus.
- Point of Purchase – Small screens positioned near particular product offerings can provide specific information and help close the sale – even if no purchase was planned.
- In-Store Advertising – Manufacturers who sell product through your store may be a source of advertising revenue.
Digital Signage Benefits
- Education – Inform and entertain your customers during their shopping experience.
- Specific Messaging – Entice your customers with interactive content, provide exclusive promotions, cross-sell other products or invite them to attend product seminars.
- Promote Loyalty Programs – Get to know your customers by promoting and using loyalty programs that connect with the customer in-store based on shopping behavior.
- Sales Tool – Increases overall sales lift, margins and attachment rates of tertiary products.
- Staff Training – In-store displays can be used for staff training after hours.
Content is King
However, to realize the benefits of digital signage, your screen must show effective content. Don’t assume information alone will suffice. To motivate customers to purchase there should always be a call to action that encourages purchase.
Creating customer engagement is what makes content and your digital screen effective. But, to be engaging, the message must first resonate with the audience. Content must address customer concerns and questions, which means that content must be developed with the customer in mind. Knowing whom the customer is and on what he or she will base their purchase decision is essential to ensuring that they will be interested in what information is being displayed.
Developing a Content Strategy
Before crafting any message it is essential to develop a content strategy to ensure that your communications are planned out, resonate with your target audience and serve your business goals. The great thing about creating a strategy is that it forces you to think through the communication process based on several points key to your success.
- Articulate your business goals. These could include sales goals for particular high margin products; signing a certain number of customers up for regular e-newsletter communications to build a steady customer base; and/or communicating particular information to make sure your customers are better educated about the products you carry.
- Identify Your Audience. A rule that holds true in marketing is that 20% of the customers buy 80% of the goods. Knowing who fits into your 20% – what their profile looks like – will allow you to speak and cater to their needs, build long-term relationships and upsell successfully.
- Create a Communications Calendar. Your communication strategy should accommodate any seasonality in your market that changes buying patterns. Sometimes that means an influx of visitors, or the return of residents from vacations. Capitalize on gift-giving opportunities around established holidays and birthdays of those in your customer database.
- Plan Regular Message Updates. Pay attention to the length of time customers spend in the store on average. How long is there attention available to absorb whatever messaging you develop? Consider communicating in small “modules” of information that can be quickly absorbed and changed out frequently so that information is always “new.”
Designing the message
When selling any product it is essential to craft and communicate a customer-focused message, which means defining what you want to accomplish and who your target audience is before you begin designing any messaging. That means you may wish to conduct a customer survey, which could be a simple in-store questionnaire tied to inviting customers to sign up to receive opt-in email information about new or featured products.
Digital signage works at retail to engage customers, increase sales and enhance the in-store experience. Importantly, there are place-based digital signage networks, which are advertiser supported and programmed by a third-party network operator. The benefits of having a digital network operator install a digital screen in your dispensary are several-fold:
- Equipment, installation and maintenance cost you nothing.
- Professionally produced educational content is supplied and regularly updated – and costs you nothing.
- National advertising, comprised of cannabis companies advertising in an environment at point of sale, comes as part of the package, which raises the perception of the content.
About the Author
Philip M. Cohen is CEO of CMN Holdings, Inc. and their subsidiaries, Cannabis Medical Network, a digital media network airing in cannabis doctors waiting rooms and Cannabis Lifestyle Network, airing in dispensary waiting rooms. Phil has operated a dozen ad supported digital signage networks in doctor offices and at retail since 1985 and is a past Chairman of the Digital Signage Federation.