Blog | Smart Signage Foundations

By Scala Team
October 20, 2021

A look at smart signage, best practice strategies and the benefits of using digital signage

Share on

Digital signage systems can help businesses attract and retain customers; smart signage technology can further increase customer engagement, tap into innovative technology and ultimately, increase revenue and brand loyalty.

However, many organizations looking to adopt smart signage technology have questions.

  • What exactly is a smart signage system?
  • What are the benefits of adopting smart signage?
  • What are some sample use cases?
  • How do organizations evaluate technology providers?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at smart signage technology, best practice strategies for deploying smart signage solutions, benefits, and other considerations.

What is a smart signage system? What makes it smart?

A digital signage system is a communications platform that organizations use to solve operational and customer experience challenges.

Components include a centrally operated content management system and digital screens to display content across the network.

Smart signage makes the system responsive and in some cases interactive. Sensors, touchscreens, and mobile devices provide touchpoints where consumers can have direct impact on what they see.

How consumers control smart signage displays

  • Mobile devices
  • Touchscreen displays
  • Cameras and Computervision
  • Weight plates and tactile sensors
  • Movement sensors

Sensor data feeds into the digital signage system along with any loyalty, opt-in data to deliver personalized, timely customer interactivity.

What industries deploy smart signage today?

The retail and quick service restaurant (QSR) industries are often seen as leading verticals for smart signage. For instance, Restaurant Brands International, owner of QSRs like Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes deployed smart signage to thousands of locations across the globe last year. Smart signage at these locations integrate loyalty programs to present personalized menu options on digital menu boards in the drive thru and then conclude the transaction with contactless payment organized through their loyalty application.

But as you can probably imagine, the only way to really understand smart signage capabilities is to experience it. Still, video can come close.

High-end retailer Hunkemoller deployed smart signage at its flagship store in Amsterdam to groundbreaking effect. Touchscreens, lift-and-learn displays, and digital monitors provide a truly interactive experience.

Banking, hospitality, airport and transportation, and healthcare are also deploying smart signage to create truly unique interactivity with customers.

Use cases

The crux of smart signage technology are the sensors, the intelligence behind the data collection, and the opportunity for the customer/target audience to engage in real-time with the display. But how do these concepts come together for consumers?

Let’s take a look at some example use cases.

Vision-based sensor technology
Store locations want to understand their customers — where they walk, how long they dwell, etc. Vision-based sensor technology, also known as Computer vision, empowers vision-based sensors to understand this data, as well as basic demographic information. The information is completely anonymous, but it still provides great insight into how customers are interacting with the store.

Tactile sensory technology provides “lift-and-learn” experience
When you step on a scale, it knows you are there and how much you weigh. Smart signage deployments can use weight and vision sensors to understand how consumers are interacting. These cues can trigger content on digital screens to provide a truly interactive experience. Pick up a wine bottle and see detailed information about the winery. Kiehl’s deploys interactive experiences like these to engage customers and make their stores unforgettable.

Mobile sensor technology
Mobile sensors rely on mobile phones to provide interactivity with customers. These often rely on opt-in loyalty applications to function, but they also provide yet another point of interaction.
As an example, if a customer has opted-in to a brand’s ecommerce app and allows tracking, the smart signage mobile sensor can be alerted to their location, in store. This action can trigger the smart signage to display a personalized message (or offering) based on the customer’s previous shopping behaviour.

AI technology
One of the main purposes for AI is to help glean strategic and actionable insights from the increasing volume and velocity of data. Smart signage can work with integrated AI to collect and process customer data, extending the eCommerce experience to physical locations.

Benefits of smart signage for brands today

For consumers, smart signage enhances in-store experience. The interactivity is still a standout for many verticals in 2021. But for the brands that have implemented smart signage well, that “wow” factor is only a small part of the total impact to the business. There are also substantial operational benefits, including:

  • Increased profitability and upselling opportunities
  • Streamlined operations — consumers are able to make faster, more satisfying decisions
  • Greater insights — Understanding where customers walk in the store, what they look at, etc. can help businesses understand how to serve their customers even better
  • Reduced labor requirements through self-service
  • Increased loyalty and retention — Many smart signage systems integrate with loyalty applications to increase value to customer, and they also strengthen and enhance loyalty

Smart signage solves 6 challenges

Organizations deploy smart signage to solve operational and customer experience challenges. Smart signage organizations should consider implementing strategies to augment the efficacy of the technology. These strategies may include:

  • Marketing Challenges — Need to deliver compelling advertising, including self-promotions, upselling opportunities, or monetize brands
  • Labor shortage — Need to deliver premium customer experience without enough in-store personnel
  • Personalization — Need to attract and satisfy emerging customer expectations
  • Streamlined operations — Achieve greater throughput by helping customers make faster, more satisfying decisions
  • Curbside pickup and other adaptive service modalities
  • Customer insights — Need to understand how customers are interacting with the store, despite limitations in data privacy

These are a few of the more common challenges that smart signage solves today. Keep in mind that smart signage is a long-term investment. Most businesses do not leap from traditional signs into a smart signage system. Instead, the tendency is to crawl, walk, run, fly with digital signage solutions.

Once the initial digital signage is set, sensors and loyalty apps can layer onto the infrastructure, so that organizations continue to achieve more and more.

Evaluating Smart Signage technology solution providers

Smart signage solutions span a complex array of technology including hardware, software, and media content. Piecemealing vendors can pose a significant challenge to organizations, not only due to complexity of the project, but also due to hardware integration. You want to consider a smart signage partner with:

  • Experience with enterprise-level deployment
  • Scale
  • Ability to monitor and optimize — Many organizations envision themselves managing a smart signage solution, but you always want to have a backup in place
  • Turnkey capabilities

Overall, these are just a few of the most important evaluation criteria to use when considering smart signage technology providers.

How Scala can help make your smart signage smarter
With 31 years’ experience in the digital signage industry, Scala is known globally as the leader in stable, secure network deployment at scale. Now, as part of the STRATACACHE family of marketing technology companies, Scala has wide ranging in-house software, hardware, services and support with an unmatched global delivery capability. We create strategic partnerships with companies who are looking for a “marketing first” point of view to transform their physical space – retail stores, financial institutions, restaurants, transportation hubs and beyond. We’re driving true retail and audience engagement transformation with a wide array of technology including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, digital signs, mobile sensors and computer vision technology. Beyond standard signage, we’re creating smarter signage solutions — every digital sign can be a sensor that adds insight and helps your business move the needle.