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LED Digital Signage

With digital technology present everywhere in our lives now, Jo Golding finds out how LED digital signage can provide companies with a safer and smarter signage solution

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As catching the attention of its audience has become harder, more consumers and brands are recognising the value of LED digital signage. With many companies offering solutions that can help in this area, I decided to take a look at the latest ideas and technology in this exciting sector.

Scala says on its website, it delivers “engaging experiences by connecting networks of digital signs, kiosks, mobile devices, websites, and Internet-connected devices in both public and private environments”.

Harry Horn, general manager EMEA of Scala, has spoken out over how retailers can pave the path to purchase, using digital signage.

“Research has been conducted that suggests that customers now have an attention span that is shorter than a goldfish,” he says, adding: “Alongside this, customers are also expecting more from their retail experience, both in terms of service, product availability, and ease. Retailers therefore need to work harder to entice shoppers, the quicker the better. In order to address this, innovative retailers have turned their attention to digital technologies, such as digital signage.”

Horn proposes three “top tips” for successfully getting started down the path to purchase: “Build a strategic war chest. When looking at which digital technologies will strengthen the in-store experience, one essential piece that serves as the cornerstone of interactive and engaging encounters is digital signage.

“More than just a variation of paper signage, digital signage can easily be woven into the brick-and-mortar store design, and both grab and hold consumers’ attention more effectively. In fact, video analytics have proven that digital signage has the power to drive an 89 percent increase in views and 52 percent increase in attention time over paper signage.”

His second tip is to always leave a lasting customer impact:“Developing a more engaging in-store customer experience is going to be increasingly critical to a retailers’ success. To do this, businesses should look to create a layered digital ecosystem that takes advantage of multiple form factors and technologies, and weave them together to create a seamless and engaging customer experience.”

He says one good example is Madame Tussauds’ Times Square location in New York City, which installed a 13 x 12’ (3.96 x 3.66m) LED screen in its lobby that highlights current exhibits to grab the attention of passers-by. Horn says: “Though not strictly a retail example, there are lessons to be learned for retailers here—the installation has improved traffic, brand awareness, and ultimately, increased foot traffic into the museum.

Harry Horn of Scala  highlights this 13 x 12’ (3.96 x 3.66m)  LED screen in Madame Tussauds New York as a perfect example of how the technology can drive brand awareness

“But it is important to remember that incorporating digital elements must be meaningful, do not implement digital elements just for the sake of ‘doing digital’. The goal of creating a positive, immersive, and engaging customer experience must be paramount as businesses bring stores to life, blending the online and offline experiences.”

It is important to remember that incorporating digital elements must be meaningful, do not implement
digital elements just for the sake of  ‘doing digital’

Personal touch

Horn’s third tip is to bring it all to life: “As shoppers’ expectations have increased, they have come to anticipate that retailers will approach them with personalised messages that reflect their history and relationship with the brand, as well as items of interest.

“In order to optimise these messages companies can employ beacons, mobile apps, or RFID technology. All of these options provide a proven way to measure where a shopper is, how much time they are spending looking at an item, determine their past purchase history, understand what size they are looking for, identify related items for upsell opportunities, and more.”

He concludes: “Digital signage provides a fantastic opportunity to bring the online experience to life and deliver meaningful in-store experiences. Whether it is through building an interactive style advisor that helps sales associates make more tailored outfit recommendations or rolling out RFID sensor-enabled holders to take shopper engagement with products to the next level, or experiment with beacon technology and mobile apps to bring the online experience into the store, digital signage ties it all together and helps to deliver a seamless path to purchase.”

Driving force

Family-owned specialist distributor of industrial connectors and components, Northern Connectors, enables its customers to use LED digital signage to improve the motorway experience.

Northern Connectors was founded in 1983 and has become a franchised stockist for many of the industry’s leading manufacturers including Alpha Wire, Binder, Conec, Harting, Hirschmann, Hummel, Lumberg Automation, Mennekes, PMA, Radiall, Souriau, and Weidmuller.

Scott Jones, technical manager of Northern Connectors, explains: “Northern Connectors supplies a range of connectors used in the creation of LED lighting used on smart motorways across the UK. LEDs are used in overhead displays on smart motorways to increase the efficiency of the motorways for road users. These matrix displays can open and close lanes, depending on the flow of traffic, and also issue temporary speed limits in the event of poor weather conditions or heavy congestion.

Scott Jones of Northern Connectors, which supplies connectors used in the creation of LED lighting used on smart motorways

“Matrix displays operated by LEDs have played an important role in notifying drivers who are using motorways. Images and text can also be displayed in a number of colours, which makes them much clearer for drivers.”

Jones says the use of LED lights in matrix signs makes them more reliable and easier to maintain than traditional bulbs, which results in a safer motorway. He continues: “What’s more, they are much more versatile than more traditional methods of displaying information, so they can be updated quickly if conditions worsen particularly quickly or in the event of an accident.

“With an increasing number of motorways in Britain being upgraded to smart motorways, LED technologies will play an integral role in ensuring they run as effectively as possible. For example, having LEDs installed means that the hard shoulder can quickly be opened to general traffic in an emergency situation, before heavy traffic jams occur.”

Another vital area of growth for the LED-based digital signage sector has not only come with retail and logistics applications, but also for the entertainment and business to business sectors. Indeed, LED digital signage manufacturer Messagemaker has been at the leading edge of this revolution and very recently unveiled a range of variable message LED signs, which offer reduced power-consumption, solar powered options, and long-term durability without the need for maintenance or pixel replacement.

Messagemaker’s variable message LED signs are ideal for displaying information at sports events or festivals

 “The latest addition to Messagemaker’s VMS range, the mobile LED Signs are perfect for launching new products, promoting special offers, announcing up to date information at events and festivals, displaying information at sporting events, advertising vacancies, and much, much more,” explains Messagemaker.

The company continues: “Our compact trailer mounted VMS now provide even greater flexibility. With fast deployment as required, the new Compact VMS helps get the message across wherever and whenever you need to—in full colour.”

Around half the size of standard trailer signs, the Compact Trailer Mounted VMS provides a portable messaging solution offering an eye-catching full colour matrix display, allowing not only text messages but also symbols and graphics to be incorporated for maximum impact.

Available in different pixel resolutions, the new system is also easily accessible to control and update via 3G and supplied with integrated security systems, plus solar or 230V mains power options for maximum flexibility in use.

Messagemaker concludes: “With the ability to update the signs quickly, businesses and organisations can react quickly and efficiently to changing circumstances and provide up to the minute news, information and promotional messages.”

Back to basics

Now, although programmable displays using LEDs as their pixels are what you would normally think of as ‘digital signage’ there are some other important applications of LED-based lighting in this technology that are worth highlighting within the context of this feature. LEDs light intensity and low power consumption has come a long way, and so too have modular framing solutions that allow for the very quick changeover of low cost graphics.

So, what remains a viable alternative in retail environments for large displays that need a constant change over of eye-catching graphics is still the backlit lightbox.

Ultima Displays is an innovator in this sector, and offers its own solution in the form of its Vector LED Lightboxes. The company says the product can help customers to stand out in a crowded retail or exhibition environment.

Osvaldo Gallio, managing director of Ultima Displays, says: “While illuminated signs and graphics have traditionally been expensive, energy inefficient, and bad for the environment, the new technology we use overcomes these challenges. The LEDs in our lightboxes consume less power, have a lifespan of 25,000 hours, are environmentally-friendly, and can be left on without any safety concerns.

Ultima Displays’ Vector LED lightboxes can help customers to stand out in a crowded retail or exhibition environment—a good alternative to LED-based digital signage systems in this context due to their ability to make graphics eye-catching and very easy to change over

“Our two-step approach, focusing on the perfect fabric along with the highest quality print, ensures our signs stand out from the crowd wherever they are, including in a busy retail environment to highlight a new promotion, or a crowded exhibition space to make a brand stand out while people are always on the move.

O Factoid: Ultima Displays’ LEDs in its lightboxes have a lifespan of 25,000 hours. O

“In addition to this, the graphics we provide are easily changeable, which is useful for seasonal offers and when campaigns need to be refreshed. This changeability and flexibility is ideal for fast-paced industries such as retail and exhibitions.”

Gallio highlights the advantages of using the Vector LED lightboxes: “The lighting provided is consistent without shadows or dark spots, we offer a custom-built range of extrusions, which means we can offer something for every budget, custom sizes provide flexibility, the frames are lightweight, and finally, our high-quality products are constantly evolving as we continue to develop them so that our customers can continue to stand out from the crowd.”

Looking across this sector, it is clear that LED-based digital signage is continuing to increase its market share, whether it is on our transport networks, in retail environments, and especially where the need for outdoor instantly changeable graphics are needed. And it also seems talking to those in the know that the sign-making industry are engaging with the technology as a norm now, regularly specifying its use across a variety of applications. The supply channels of this technology are now also much more formalised to suit the sign-maker, Messagemaker being a good example of this trend. The end result is that if you have not already done so, then it really would be worth your time and effort researching and looking at the products available in this technology sector, and how they could not only help you offer your current client base more, but also win new custom in doing so.

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