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How Interactive Digital Signage in Retail Drives Results

Store planners & property managers alike can benefit from interactive digital signs

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Just as digital signage took over from traditional analog options, so too now they’re on the way out, thanks to technology that far surpasses the animatics and brief videos of traditional electronic advertising. In their place, we see the rise of interactive digital signs. 

Interactive digital signage retail environments see significant improvements in foot traffic, customer interest, and sales. But what are the best ways for store planners and property managers to deploy this new technology?

Looking for more ways to elevate your retail experience with digital signage? Check out our article, Retail Digital Signage: The Ultimate Guide.

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What is interactive digital signage in retail?

Examples of interactive digital signage retail use cases?

How can property managers use interactive digital signs?

What is interactive digital signage in retail?

Interactive digital signage refers to signs that allow for users to interact directly with them. This can be via a number of types of input — most commonly touchscreens, but also via video and motion tracking, smartphone connectivity, voice, RFID and bluetooth connectivity, and more. 

Digital signage has been part of retail planning for decades, as the promise of easily replaceable and updatable content was an appealing upgrade from old printed and lightbox signs. Interactive signage goes even further, drawing customers in with the promise of direct interaction with the signs themselves. The more a customer interacts with an object, the more likely they are to form a connection, and potentially make a purchase. The use case may not seem as immediately obvious as the original shift from analog to digital signage, but the results can be powerful.

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Examples of interactive digital signage retail use cases

Interactive digital signs are an evolution of earlier digital signs, which means they can do everything traditional digital advertisements could do, and more. They can still be used to display advertisements and information, either static or animated, and can still be updated and controlled from a central platform. But the interactive element can do so much more, too.

One of the most powerful demonstrations of interactivity was Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo’s use of “magic mirrors”. At a distance, these appeared to be normal mirrors on the shop floor, but when customers put on certain clothing, such as Uniqlo’s popular down jacket, they could interact with the mirror to see what the jacket would look like in other colors. The signs would take the video of the customer and selectively replace the color of the clothing item they were wearing, and show the alternative. This allowed customers to sample styles that may have been out of stock, as well as impressing them with the caliber of technology.

Interactive digital signage can also be used to help customers identify what’s in stock, which is useful in situations where not everything is on the floor. Megalopolis Toys was able to work around having a relatively small storefront by listing its full inventory on digital signage, so that customers could see what was available, even if it wasn’t in front of them.

These signs can also be useful for gathering information on your customers. Interactive digital signs can be used to entice shoppers to sign up for newsletters or loyalty programs, which department store stalwart Nordstroms used to great success. Features like digital wishlists also allow for stores to not only increase the chance of a return sale, but also gather information on what their customer base is looking for in their shopping.

Interactive digital signs can be used to great effect in non-retail environments, such as restaurants. Yelp has rolled out a program that installs tablets outside of local eateries that allow customers to add their name to the waitlist or check in for a reservation. If the customer is already a Yelp user, they can do so from their phone in advance, leveraging the close connection between local businesses and the platform.

One study of retail leaders found that the vast majority (74%) felt that digital signage helped or greatly enhanced a customer’s in-store experience. 87% said that interactivity was the feature most likely to succeed in digital signage, and more than a third believed that digital signage was worth investing more than $25,000 per store.

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How can property managers use interactive digital signs?

For property managers, the value proposition is slightly different, but still compelling. The use of interactive digital signs is geared more towards customer flow and satisfaction, as well as digital advertising in general as an extra revenue stream.

One of the most commonly used forms of interactive digital signs in retail environments are directories for large buildings. A sign that not only allows you to zoom in and out on your location in a mall, but will also show you the path to the store you’re looking for (or to the bathroom) is a huge improvement over older, static layout maps. They lead to increased satisfaction in customers, and lower frustration levels due to becoming interminably lost in an enormous complex.

Interactive digital signs can also be used to rapidly disseminate important information. Hilton Hawaii set up its digital signage to keep customers informed in the case of natural disaster, since the chance of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis was non-zero. The same system became useful during COVID-19, as it helped keep guests stay informed while enforcing safe distancing between staff and guests.

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Interactive digital signs connect more with customers than traditional digital signs, and draw people in with their new and interesting experiences. They help you find out more about customers, drive sales, and manage foot traffic more effectively. The transition to these new, more powerful signs is a clear progression for any business, and one worth investing in today.

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