Friday, June 20, 2008

New Digital Signage Applications Taking Dynamic Content Down To Shelf Edge

By Andrew Gaffney, Editor/Publisher

Most digital signage implementations in retail have focused on large plasma screens hung high in the store and broadcasting 
video-only content. However, some recent and planned pilots are taking the dynamic messaging capabilities of digital signs down to the shelf edge.

Retail signage and digital publishing solutions provider AccessVia recently partnered with UK-based ZBD Displays, on a pilot with a which allowed a major retailer to convey critical pricing information on a digital display at the shelf edge. By Incorporating ZBD’s epop wireless 'e-paper' display solutions together with AccessVia’s Web dSignShop, the retailer was able to publish the digital signs with all the same benefits and ease of the original paper signage system.

ZBD’s epop solutions represent a new frontier in signage as they provide a smaller shelf-level option that requires zero power and brings the powerful messaging options of digital down to eye level, including dynamic pricing and promotion capabilities.

When one was of its major retail partners was looking to incorporate digital signage into a new in-store concept in the first quarter of this year, AccessVia’s Chief Technical Officer Jonathon Moulton developed and tested a prototype at the company’s Seattle headquarters. Moulton flew to Minneapolis to install the system personally and the system was rolled out within 30 days.

“All of the attention in the digital signage category has been focused on the big plasma screens, which are usually up on the ceiling,” said Dean Sleeper, CEO of AccessVia. “In order to have a real impact on purchases, there is going to have to be more of a floor to ceiling strategy. This recent pilot is one of the first strategies that really brings the power of digital signage down to the shelf level.”

Sleeper also pointed out that the fast turnaround of this pilot has clearly demonstrated opportunity for retailers to realize the cost savings of manually instituting price changes. “Through this pilot we have shown that it can be a seamless transition from printing traditional paper signs to publishing to digital platforms, and the retailer achieves a ton of cost savings and operational efficiency through the redirection of labor,” he said.

On a recent visit to pilot store location, store associates described the consumer response to the shelf-edge digital signage as one of “shock and awe.” Because the digital signs blended in easily with the high-end merchandise, store associates said they “helped lower the sticker shock and validated the investment” consumers were making more effectively than the print price tags used in the rest of the store.

The digital signs utilized in the first few months of the pilot only included the same static price and product information that are listed on their print counterparts. However, the retailer is looking at more dynamic usage of the technology in the future, including potentially adding scrolling screens, rich content descriptions, multi-lingual product information, as well as localized.

Beyond operational benefits and cost savings, ZBD Display’s CEO Clive Mayne added that other retailers are using the shelf edge signs to send more targeted messaging. 

ZBD recently announced that Tesco had ordered 2,500 electronic point of purchase displays (EPOPs) from ZBD for its latest milestone store. Continuing a relationship that has already seen ZBD's displays trialled in two Tesco stores in Central and Southern England, the new orders will be deployed in the dry groceries area.

Tesco's Mike McNamara, Operations Development Director said: “Tesco are pleased to be working again with ZBD for our trial of Electronic Shelf Edge Labels (ESELs). The technology is great for helping to improve our customers' shopping experience and making our store staff’s jobs simpler. From our previous in-store experience we believe ZBD’s ESEL displays can meet these criteria."