Credit from Dave Haynes

In our lifetimes, we’ve seen retailers dress window displays with clothed mannequins, arranged furniture or fanciful scenes — all to grab attention and ideally pull consumers through the doors. Almost every retailer, short of luxury brands, has been known to put up window posters touting price discounts, special promotions or inventory clear-outs.

Why Go Digital?

Paper posters and printed fabric light boxes are less costly in the short term than digital displays. However, some key improvements are driving the storefront transformation, including change-out speed, reduced resource and operation costs, increased inventory, and higher impact.

Change-Out Speed

Installing a new poster in a window might take a minute or two to complete, but the planning and coordination typically take weeks. The artwork has to go through the creative development and approval processes. Then the material goes to prepress and then to a printer. Then the posters must be shipped to potentially thousands of sites.

All this requires complex project management and coordination, and even top retailers struggle with something called “compliance” — which is the measure of how much marketing material actually goes into the right place at the right time.

With digital signage, once new artwork is created, the scheduling, targeting and distribution of new content can happen in a matter of minutes. As long as the network is set up properly, compliance should be 100 percent — something retail brands can only dream about with analog messaging.

Web technologies like HTML5 even make it possible to automate window displays. Software can steadily communicate with store systems like pricing and inventory, and if a price changes or stock runs out, the price on the screen automatically updates, or a message for a promoted item stops running until inventory is replenished.

Reduced Resource and Operating Costs

There are many ways digital signage reduces costs, such as:

  • No more shipping expenses for materials

  • No more associate manhours away from the store floor to change signage materials

  • No more compliance inspections by regional managers

Increased Inventory

One of the primary reasons billboard companies have converted their big roadside signs to digital is they now have the ability to sell and then run as many messages as they want off a single billboard “face.” The same thing applies with window displays — with retail brands equipped to run as many messages as they want and do things like schedule different messages for different consumer profiles by time of day or week.

A fast food operator with a printed window poster for a breakfast special gets nothing out of that messaging for much of the day, but digital signage enables the operator to tune the message as consumers’ needs change, highlighting lunch specials, drive-home specials and late night snacks.

Higher Impact

Adding digital means adding video and motion graphics and the ability to sequence messaging statements. With print, messaging needs to be short and sweet. With digital, less is still more, but one promotional spot can cycle through multiple benefits, price offers and calls to action without forcing all that information into one image.