Digital signage is making a real impact in the retail industry right now. Hardly a day goes by without media reports showcasing how retailers are deploying digital signage to attract more customers and drive in-store sales.  

It’s an upsurge in interest that is powering the digital signage market towards massive growth. Leading market analysts, MarketsandMarkets.com, expect the global digital signage market to be worth more than $13.6bn by 2016. 

But why the sudden interest from retailers? It’s not like it’s a new technology. Far from it; digital signage has been around in one form or another for the best part of the last decade. The reason why an increasing number of retailers are now considering it it seems is the technology’s falling costs.

Recent years have seen the price of LCD screens tumble. HD screens offering stunning visuals can now be picked up for just a few hundred dollars. Digital signage software, on which retailers are able to create engaging digital content to attract more sales, can be downloaded from reputable suppliers without charge. Some suppliers even include your media player software in the download bundle, so you can effectively run your content to the LCD screens for free as well.

Naturally, these lower costs make strong ROI that much more accessible. Retailers are now discovering that they can brand-up their stores, run promotions and engage consumers all through one simple digital signage system – and gain more sales off the back of these activities as a result.

So, the technology is there. But to make it work as a sales tool retailers must get their heads around how to use it effectively to drive up engagement and convert that interest to payments over the counter. Here are five opportunities for retailers to explore:

1. Build a feature screen area: Use one LCD screen or several together as a feature video wall to build a central store attraction. Retailers can run content on their latest promotions, feature new product arrivals or deliver details on a particular product or segment of the store. Use high-impact visual content to naturally attract eyeballs.

High-end fashion retailer, Diesel, has opted to explore this route. They have recently deployed a six-screen LCD wall at their flagship store in NYC. It’ll feature content promoting their new collections. Daniele Minestrini, the company’s head of interior design, said, “dynamic video content with high graphical quality resonates more with a customer than traditional print signage. Therefore digital signage is the best means of high-impact communication with shoppers.”

2. Product display areas:  Retailers often need to help consumers visualize what they’ll experience or feel with the products being sold. Naturally, product displays help create this vision. Digital signage can push it further by enveloping shoppers in a ‘theatrical experience’. Exciting, engaging content that brings drama and emotion to the product display is one possible direction worth exploring.

3. Touchscreen information displays: Get customers involved with products using touchscreen displays. By serving up interactive content about a selection of product lines and offering customers a chance to find out more about them, you as a retailer have more opportunities to engage and sell.

4. Big screen demos: Product demos are fantastic engagement tools. Much however is dependent on the space available in-store to run the demo, and the ability of staff to get the right message across to their audience.  By using digital signage retailers can design and run content on overhead or wall-mounted LCD screens to assist staff in this objective. DFS, the British furniture retailer, is set to trial such an idea at their Tottenham Court Road store in London this year.

5. How to Guides: The more succinctly you can relate uses, advantages and/or benefits of using a product to a customer, the easier it is to make a sale of that product. Why not use digital signage technology to get that message across? A high-impact animation or video story could work wonders!

Digital signage is set to play a significant role in the retail store environments of the near future. How valuable it proves to be at a commercial level however depends very much on the nature of its deployment, and the type of content used. For it to be of genuine commercial value digital signage must add a certain buzz to the shopping experience. Screen positioning and content presentation need to be clever, and they must work together to communicate action. After all, if your digital signage isn’t driving sales then what’s the point?