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The History and Evolution of Digital Retail Signage


Prior to digital retail signage, retailers used analog video signs. It was common to see video monitors in retail stores in the 80’s and the 90’s displaying digital retail signage with VHS videotapes.

When DVD’s were invented, that was the beginning of digital signage for retailers. DVD’s were digital and therefore offered improved benefits over VHS tapes, so retailers began to switch to DVD players, with some even using Blu-ray high-definition discs. Some retailers still use these media today.

Flat Panel Displays

Both VHS and DVD’s were initially shown on cathode-ray-tube TV monitors. When flat-panel displays became affordable and less bulky in the early 2000’s, retailers began to convert to flat panels. Today, retailers still use flat-panel displays, but have replaced DVD’s and Blu-ray discs with computer-driven signage players, also referred to as media players, which is the heart of a digital sign. With a computer-driven signage player, content can be dynamic, centrally controlled and updated in seconds — a tremendous marketing tool for retailers!

The Benefits of Digital Signage in Retail

The evolution from analog video signs to digital has advanced digital signage to new heights, providing many new retail applications. It has only been within the past six years or so that digital signage has taken off in many commercial environments. Digital signage is used in many vertical markets, with the retail industry being one of the fastest growing. This is due to the costs of the displays and players, which continue to fall in price, but also from the benefits digital signs provide to retailers. ROI is the reason why retailers are adapting digital signage for many applications.

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Technological Advancements

Technology is also driving this tremendous growth. New advancements in displays, signage players, content management, interactivity and analytics software can engage consumers in ways never before imagined. And, with these new advancements, many new solutions are being introduced to retailers.

Digital signage can be easily installed, serviced and maintained in multiple ways. Web-based options, including cloud or intranet-based software, are increasingly popular. These systems allow you to manage your content from a web browser – so as long as you have an internet connection, it is quick and simple to monitor and edit all aspects of your digital solution.

Digital Retail Signage Improves Audience Engagement

Digital signs come in a variety of shapes, sizes and abilities. Make the most of this and get creative with your signage to offer your audience a unique experience. An example of this would be touch screen displays providing a survey, product demo or game for your consumers to try.

This can benefit your business greatly. Firstly, it means that your visitors are spending longer on your product or services. A demo or game could not only entertain but educate them on your product, giving them time and influence in making a well-informed decision on whether to buy your product or service.

Secondly, it also increases your brand awareness. People love technology and by providing a different and unique experience, your visitors are more likely to remember your store and recommend to others – your digital signage can play a huge part in this.

Measurable Data

Digital retail signage is also a very effective way to collect valuable data about your audience. This could be how long your digital displays are actually being used.. and of course most importantly whether the information it provides is increasing sales!

Be confident in asking your customers their thoughts on your digital signage. Did it influence their buying decisions? Did it entertain them? There’s no harm in asking and it can provide very useful and detailed insights.

Consider this statistic: 80 percent of UK residents aged 12 or older have seen a digital video display in a public venue in the past month; 62 percent recall seeing one in the past week. And nearly one in five (19 percent) said they made an unplanned purchase after seeing an item featured on the screen. What would one in five unplanned purchases do for your business?

Environmental Factors

Digital signage has well-known environmental benefits too:

  • Less paper waste due to needing fewer static signs that need to be frequently reprinted
  • Lower carbon footprint associated with the manufacture and shipping of paper signs
  • Reduced use of chemicals, inks and adhesives that are used in printing process

For printers, this is a sign of the changing times. There is still, and will always be, a need for the traditional print billboards that make up a cornerstone of many major brand campaigns. But digital signage is rapidly improving, making it a very intriguing option as campaign managers seek new ways to engage with their audience.

The Impact of Digital Retail Signage

Today, you can find digital signage just about everywhere: retail storessports stadiumshotelsbanks, medical clinics, airports, fuel stations, schools and colleges, exhibitions and trade shows and many other public locations.

According to a recent industry report, 76 percent of consumers have entered a store because the digital signs were interesting, while an additional 75 percent of consumers have told friends about a store simply because they were impressed by the signage. Most importantly, 68 percent purchase a product or service because of the appealing nature of the digital signage.

Retailers’ use of digital signage has been growing at double digits over the past several years and is expected to continue at double-digit growth for many years to come. Digital retail signage is not really new to retailers; they have just evolved over the years. As new advances in digital-signage technology continue to emerge, so will new applications for retailers.

For more information on LED Digital Retail Signage and how it could boost your sales, contact Scanlite today on 01253 302723 or email us at


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