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Realities of Digital P.O.S.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Everything is going digital! There is a buzz over digital signage in the retail and marketing industry. In fact, during my attendance at the recent Digital Signage Expo, I experienced a vast number of digital tools that will be a large part of our retail landscape in the foreseeable future. I was one of 3,400 attendees – a 70% increase from the show in 2007, which demonstrates the demand for and interest in digital today. The expo showcased an abundant number of monitors and other gadgets, in many sizes and capabilities, along with supporting content applications to engage customers and consumers in and around retail venues. The technology and equipment being offered is extraordinary. It visually catches your attention and then offers an interactive function that makes the experience memorable.

The retail opportunities around digital are exciting. As consumers experience digital content every day at home and work, they expect it more and more at places where they shop. Digital strategies at retail can help educate consumers, build brands, and create a unique in-store experience. Wal-Mart is broadcasting ads and information segments on their in-store Wal-Mart Network and upgrading their network monitors to wide-screen LED monitors. Walking through airports, travelers are accustomed to viewing monitors for travel information and now are seeing monitors positioned vertically in front of magazine stores to promote the latest magazine covers. Monitors are also popping up on gas pumps to help bring consumers inside the store for additional purchases.

Even as digital signage grows at retail, it is not totally mainstream yet. After seeing all the new opportunities from the digital show, I was thinking, when will we see more of these cool interactive tools during our regular shopping experience? I was surprised the other day though. At a large local liquor store in Westminster, I experienced the Virtual Bartender. This interactive kiosk features party tips, recipes and food pairings for beer, liquor and wine. Users interact with a “virtual” bartender and can print out selections and information (sales receipt size) to then go shop and purchase. The information can also be e-mailed to the consumer. I was able to learn more about certain beers and get a suggested cabernet to go with beef. The concept can also be experienced online at www.thebar.com.

Right now, the retail opportunities are truly abundant; however, digital POS and information touch-points will at some point become conventional. As digital becomes mainstream, will consumers continue to engage with the medium or will they lose interest in the multitude of digital POS? How will marketers cut through potential clutter to keep shoppers engaged with their brand?

The future is exciting for retailers and marketers as they determine the right strategy for digital POS and to keep shoppers engaged with their brands.

– contributed by Chris Gerhold

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