So here we are – the first working week of 2021. After low-key Christmas and New Year celebrations and with most of the country in lockdown, I am looking forward to the vaccine rollouts and hopefully things returning to some form of normal. I am buoyed with plans for 2021, excited by what Scala and STRATACACHE are working on and looking forward to talking to businesses about tech and making the customer experience better this year and beyond. My mood is a good one, better than it’s been in a while, but it does get dented when I see A4 pieces of paper stuck in shop windows.
I’m obviously a bit biased, but those little bits of paper are driving me insane. I appreciate the role the signs play in the track-and-trace process but each one I see, especially those affixed in the windows of well-known chain brands, feels like a wasted opportunity.
The pieces of paper are disposable, they are fading, some are dog-eared and all, at least to me, suggest a lack of strategic thinking or future planning. I suppose the designer in me is frustrated by how poor they look against the carefully thought out interior design of shops and restaurants. These pieces of paper simply aren’t serving the spaces that they occupy. I also worry that the paper QR codes aren’t properly serving the people either. Static and unappealing, printed in an inconsistent fashion, the signs don’t grab attention or invite participation.
First of all, that sign-shaped real estate in a shop window could be doing so much more. As well as giving the public a point at which to check in, that space, if given over to a digital signage solution, could be reassuring the public on the safety measures. The digital sign could be directing people to the location of the hand sanitisers. In fact, hand sanitising stations could even be fitted with screens. Picture this — if a digital sign is connected to an occupancy management system, the screen in the window could display how many people are in the store, using graphics, animation or colour to visually display, at a glance, how close the numbers are to the maximum occupancy of the space, ensuring shoppers feel they have a safe shopping environment. All of this information can be displayed in rotation along with the QR code or, specific information could be selected by the customer via touch screen. Perhaps the idea of touch screens would cause some to balk, but screens can be outfitted to be antimicrobial and are far easier to clean with antibacterial sprays than paper.
As we saw last month, COVID can cause a standstill at ports. As we leave the European Union new regulations may also leave supply chains tested. Through digital displays, businesses can communicate more clearly with their clientele about the pressures they are facing and the steps that they are taking. Digital signage not only modernizes the store, but it helps businesses explain and update timelines, offer alternative products or highlight products available in stock. Using our digital signage composition and design tool, Designer Cloud, sign displays can be changed and updated within minutes.
And these signs don’t just have to be there to mitigate business challenges. They can also be used to celebrate. Communities have made an effort to shop local, and we have seen businesses come to the aid of the community with initiatives such as holiday hunger. The screen in the window could be a place to show thanks, to share community info or simply count down to a sale. With the right tech, businesses can own a platform that not only provides an attention-grabbing channel to reach customers, but also gives the business a way to get the data they need to build back and grow greater. The potential applications of a small sign in a shop window are vast and varied — so much more dynamic, creative and effective than a piece of A4 paper taped to a shop window.
Darren Cremins is a Senior Sales Director at Scala for the UK and Ireland regions. As 20+ year digital signage industry expert, Darren primarily helps retailers engage with their customers. Throughout his nearly 10 years with Scala, Darren has developed a strong focus on combining not only the Scala solutions, but the complete STRATACACHE family of solutions into the UK & Ireland market in this ever-changing world of marketing technology and digital signage.