Digital Signage Displays in Every Shopping Aisle

When shopping in a store, I often find myself likening the pursuit of finding exactly what I want to buy as a walk through a maze. I have only signs, other shoppers, and my smartphone to guide me. At times, stumped, I wonder how much harder this journey to locate the item I want could be. Frustrated, I ask myself, could this store make the maze any harder than it already is?

Imagine if, in the future, the shopping maze remains, but when you walk by a section of a store, the walls change. Not in a threatening sense, putting you in even more dire straits, but coming to your rescue. On one wall, a digital signage display welcomes and greets you. It immediately recognizes you and knows what you have bought in the past. It then asks if you need help purchasing those same items or navigating new ones.

Once you respond to the display, it offers personalized recommendations and guides you to the items you’re looking for. It also reminds you of the offers you’ve earned from your past purchases. No longer perplexed, you eventually leave the maze, surprisingly buying more than you had come for! Thankfully, you avoided having to accost random strangers in the store to find your way. And overall, you rejoice at having had a wonderful shopping experience—finding what you wanted quickly, easily, and self-sufficiently.

Nowadays, as the price points for hardware displays continue to ebb, more stores will likely use digital signage displays to engage customers in personalized ways. The ability to customize messages to customers anywhere in a store at any time of the day is powerful. For example, a grocery store could target parents of small children as they walk through certain aisles and send them personalized offers based on the most imminent mealtime.

In addition to getting personalized offers and guidance around the store, customers will benefit by feeling not only like an important and remembered customer but also connected and engaged with the retailer. When they feel positively about their relationship with the brand, customers are likely to be emotionally drawn to keep coming back to the store.

As soon as I get to where my product category is within the store, either on my own accord or through some way-finding digital displays, the next challenge is choosing a specific product within that category. We’ve all found ourselves standing in front of an assortment of hiking shoes, snowboards, golf clubs, beard trimmers (okay, maybe this is more mine), or even cars and wondering, “What’s the difference between this one and that one?” or “Why is this one so much more than that one?”

The traditional approach is for store associates to help customers determine which product is right for their needs. Yet, I think we can all appreciate that often we don’t want to engage with a salesperson and so we shoo them off with a polite “just browsing” response. In reality, however, we’re struggling to understand the product category in front of us. Now, with a smartphone in our pocket, we can begin to resolve some of our questions, and, if the retailer is doing its part, there may even be an app for this.

Imagine how much richer and more compelling this experience could be with a large screen that lets me discover and learn more about the category and which product is right for me. If you attended the recent Adobe Summit, you may have seen a demonstration powered by the Adobe Marketing Cloud. We can not only present the content on the display, but also personalize it to the customers in front of the display and measure their engagement.

Some national restaurant chains are experimenting with digital signage displays. Pizza Hut, for example, has made the digital signage display a central part of its interactive dining tables. From the moment they sit down, customers can design and order their pizzas from their tabletops and then play games until their orders are ready.

Even menu boards in restaurants can become digital and can potentially upsell customers while they make a decision. These digital menu boards can be changed to reflect the time of day using the point-of-sale system or a mobile application. In the UK, McDonalds has been successfully testing customer-facing digital signage solutions, finding that these displays have lifted sales by as much as 11 percent on some items and have led to higher transaction amounts.

Large, sprawling spaces—such as airports, college campuses, and malls—could use digital signage displays to guide visitors in the right direction. At the airport, for example, tapping on a display could produce maps, coupons, restaurant menus, real-time flight status, boarding times, delays, and gate changes. Sapient EngagedTraveler, a display technology built with Adobe Experience Manager software, has seen more than 35,000 taps a week during its pilot at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. This provides a striking example of what digital signage displays can do for large sprawling spaces.

We’re not too far from the day when digital signage displays will pervade most of our physical spaces, transforming the real world into a more digital one. One thing is for certain: Having digital signage displays at every corner will make navigating real-life mazes much more interesting.