British actor, author, comedian and social commentator Stephen Fry once brilliantly Tweeted: “One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements it – books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators!” Just as video didn’t kill the radio star in the 70s and Napster didn’t destroy the music industry in the 90s, digital signage should not be seen as a threat to print but rather the next evolution of it and a symbiotic companion for it. Can’t we all just get along? Well yes, actually we can!

In this digital age, there is still a role for print. Digital Signage needs a well-formed retail advertising strategy, a healthy budget and a real commitment in order to become both successful and financially viable. So don’t just blindly leap off the cliff to follow the big boys like Telstra, who removed the majority of their printed materials over two and a half years ago. It’s all about objectives. If you use small-scale, affordable print pieces like loyalty cards, discount fliers or menus, it’s probably not broken and doesn’t need to be fixed. However, where Digital Signage is flourishing and why it’s set to become a multi-billion dollar sector for the retail marketing and advertising industry over the next five years is the flexibility, cost-reduction and effectiveness it gives you instore.

Ever used a poster to promote something in store? Besides the environmental and financial cost, you have to factor in time and money needed to design it, print it, have it delivered, check it, maybe even change it and then put it up. Sometimes its messaging is only relevant for a matter of days before you consign it to the trash and pay to have that removed. Now imagine you could design it yourself and have it up instantly and not just in one store but every store you own, wherever they are. Then when it’s no longer relevant, just edit the details and click refresh! Shelf-edge price point labels are a perfect example of this kind of digital signage. How much time do you think is spent removing and replacing them for every product in a store. Digital Signage is allowing some supermarkets to do it remotely, across every store at the click of a button, whenever they need to. They can even schedule changes to occur automatically when they’re not there to do it themselves. Now you can see why we say it’s the future.

Pros of Digital Signage
  • This is the age of technology and as people become more tech-savvy, Digital Signage is becoming the norm, so why not become an early(ish) adapter?
  • In the long term and on a larger scale, Digital Signage is way more cost effective, time efficient and flexible than print.
  • In a world where shoppers are bombarded by boring ‘wallpaper’, isn’t it better if yours is impactful, interesting and most of all, attention-grabbing?
  • One poster usually means one or two messages in that space. However, with just one Digital Signage screen, you can rotate and display as many messages as you want!
  • Digital Signage can be integrated with other forms of interactive technology such as smartphones to improve a customers shopping experience.
Cons of Digital Signage
  • Digital signage is not cheap and if it is it won’t be any good (you get what you pay for). For smaller, shorter-term promotions printing may be more cost-effective.
  • For the most part customers can’t take digital signage messaging home with them. In such cases a flier or brochure may still be best.
  • Technology doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to so just ensure to factor in a response to such occurrences with your retail advertising agency.

Unless you have the budgets of Telstra or the burning desire to move into a totally digital space, you should look to get a balance between print and digital signage and make them work together for your brand. Trial one form of Digital Signage and I think you’ll see the benefit almost immediately. A two-pronged approach to your messaging will greatly increase the effectiveness of your messaging. But you should definitely not ignore Digital Signage because a Stephen Fry also said: “Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.”