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The State of Digital Signage by Industry: 2022 Edition

It’s a truly exciting time for the world of digital signage

One recent study found that the digital signage market is projected to reach a value of 25.16 billion GBP (32.84 billion U.S. dollars) by 2023, up from just 4.65 billion GBP (6.07 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015.

But what does this mean for a business looking into digital signage? Based on current trends, is it time for you to invest in a digital sign?

In this guide, I share my thoughts on where digital signage is going, broken down by industry, so you can understand if it’s a good fit for your business!

What is Digital Signage?

If you’re new to the idea of digital signage, or you need a quick refresher, digital signage refers to electronic displays with LCD or LED technology to convey images, videos, and other messages to audiences. 

Digital signage is NOT the same thing as digital media or digital marketing – those approaches are designed for consumption on personal devices, while digital signage is basically just a digital version of old static displays.

The most popular types of digital signage include:

 

  • Digital posters
  • Interactive touch screens
  • Wayfinding displays

 

These can be static displays, dynamic displays, or even interactive displays!

Now, signage has always been important, but prior to digital signage, all you really had available to choose from included posters, analog displays with static images, or LED scrolling signs. 

The development of digital signage has completely changed how content is delivered to in-person audiences!

3 Digital Signage Deliverables

Of course, digital signage is a little more complex than a traditional printed poster or static menu board.

Here are the 3 deliverables needed for a digital display.

1) Hardware

Digital signage hardware is the actual electronic display. This can take many forms, including wall screens, digital posters, digital menu boards, touch screen displays, digital window displays, and self-service kiosks.

2) Software

Digital signage software lives on your hardware and/or the cloud and allows you to deploy content on your display. 

3) Content

Digital signage content includes the static images, animations, and video that you want to appear on your displays.

When all of these elements work together, you can have a powerful display that excels at its job of informing, persuading, or supporting your customers. 

The Top 5 Industries for Digital Signage

Now that we’ve gone over what digital signage is and a little bit about how it works, I want to talk more about the status of digital signage in some of the most important industries here in the UK (and around the world).

The fact is, digital signage has picked up momentum in a wide range of industries, including everything from retail to food to education. A lot of it has been shaped by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has hastened the adoption of digital displays for many different reasons.

Ready to dive in? Here’s a quick overview of what’s going on with digital signage by industry!

1) Retail

First of all, there’s the big one: retail. 

Given the pandemic and the lack of footfall for many stores over the last few years, digital window displays have been a significant boom. 

Here are just a few reasons why:

 

  • Using a dynamic display in a sea of static displays will grab more passerby attention to your store.
  • You can easily provide up-to-date store hours, health guidelines, current items on sale, and other relevant information for shoppers.
  • The ability to swap content quickly will give you a unique opportunity to test and optimise your messaging to maximize the results of your displays. 

 

The phenomenon of “showrooming” is also a growing trend for retailers. The way it works is to carry less inventory, but turn your store into a physical showroom. Shoppers will browse the store and then purchase online.

One way to lean into this trend is with an interactive in-store display that allows shoppers to look up or purchase items, the same way they would on their phones. 

By taking showroom orders from customers through this screen, you can sell your products in-store and ship them to the customer from a warehouse or another store location with inventory. 

2) Hospitality and Leisure

There are countless hospitality venues like hotels and bars that depend on digital signage to provide information and services to their guests.

While many hotels were shut down or had limited on-premises services during the pandemic, it’s all about delivering a quality guest experience. Here are a few ways they’re doing it:

 

  • Demand is surging for quality screens for television viewing in hotels and bars, which want to be entertainment hubs for customers. Powerful digital displays can engage guests for a more memorable experience.
  • Digital signage installations are starting to appear all over hotels, from the lobby to the valet stand. This provides a slick, branded experience with consistency for guests.
  • Tourism destinations are another huge buyer of digital displays. From wayfinding kiosks to advertising for local shops and restaurants, tourist sites lean on digital displays to provide much-needed information to visitors – many of whom don’t even speak the local language.

 

It’s no surprise that hotels and other hospitality venues are investing in digital screens. These displays allow them to provide the best possible customer experience.

3) Food/QSR

What is the state of QSRs post-pandemic? Unfortunately, the pandemic has played a role in the decline of many restaurants and food retailers, especially sitdown restaurants. 

At the same time, many quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are doing better than ever, thanks to an increase in demand for drive-thru service. 

But all restaurants that made it through the pandemic have likely come from some significant changes in how they do business. Based on what I’ve seen, the biggest change (and opportunity) for quick-service restaurants is the digital menu board:

 

  • More drive-thrus are getting equipped with outdoor digital menu boards to provide a better experience for customers. Due to the pandemic over the last few years, up to 90% of QSR revenue has been from the drive-thru, so their success depends on engaging customers with better menu boards.
  • Integrated digital signage with the POS is making it easier to capture price updates and adjust menus in real time. Digitizing the menu board is a huge priority.
  • Looking indoors, many restaurants are also adding self-service kiosks and tabletop digital displays. These provide additional opportunities for customer engagement and ordering away from the counter, while also increasing the potential revenue per square foot of the business.

 

For safety reasons, many QSR customers have been shifting toward a contactless experience for ordering food. Others prefer dealing with a kiosk to a cashier. Expect to see a lot more digital menu boards – both inside and outside of QSRs – in the coming years.

4) Automotive

There are a number of unexpected uses for digital displays in the automotive world!

Obviously, you’ve seen “infotainment” digital screens in vehicle dashboards for years, offering navigation, controls, and even DVD playback. But increasingly, we’re seeing digital screens adopted in some other key areas that you may not be aware of:

 

  • All-digital automotive showrooms are becoming much more popular. Some of these showrooms have very large format LED displays – some displays are only for show, while others are interactive touch screens where buyers can search for vehicles themselves. Interestingly, salespeople aren’t as prevalent in these dealerships for the initial stages, but are still on hand once the buyers are ready to pull the trigger.
  • “Smart mirrors” are becoming popular for vans and a range of other vehicles that may have limited visibility. These smart mirrors mimic regular rearview mirrors, but are actually an HD screen displaying a panoramic view from a high-resolution camera.
  • Autonomous vehicles (i.e. self-driving cars) will likely make driving a more passive experience. As a result, these vehicles are likely to incorporate more digital displays into the vehicle’s interior, providing information to each occupant. It’s also likely that these displays will be monetised with location-based advertisements.

 

Along with the vehicles themselves, one growing area for digital displays is in the electric vehicle (EV) charge station. This can include interactive or non-interactive screens to display digital information while electric vehicle owners are charging. As demand for charging stations grows alongside more EVs on the road, this is a massive area of growth. (See more of my thoughts on the latest trends in electric vehicles in 2022.)

Automotive is already a huge industry for digital signage and displays. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of new applications for digital displays in vehicles and C-store forecourts in the coming years.

5) Education

Education rounds out the top 5 industries I’ve seen change because of digital signage. Like with the other industries, education was affected by the pandemic, with many school closures and a rise in mitigation measures like social distancing.

Here are a few ways the education space is leaning into digital signage:

 

  • Interactive wayfinding displays help visitors and students to navigate school campuses. With the potential to be placed all across the campus, these digital kiosks have moved beyond touch functions alone, with options like voice, QR codes, and other features that make digital signage safer and more useful.
  • Digital meeting room signs are an effective investment for many schools and universities. Connected to a calendar system, these digital displays make it easy for both students and faculty to book meeting rooms while avoiding double-booking or other confusion.
  • Digital displays in classrooms and admin buildings are an invaluable way to communicate information school-wide. Updates could include morning announcements, upcoming deadlines, shoutouts, birthday messages, sports scores, and even inspirational quotes.

 

For education, content management is particularly important. Many schools want to supply informational messages, photos, news updates, videos, calendars, and even live feeds to digital screens across campus. 

Educational institutions are turning to digital signage to streamline communications, improve navigability, and appeal to students who have officially grown up with screens.

The Future of Digital Signage

Now that we’ve taken a look at what digital signage is like for several industries, I wanted to briefly touch on the future of this important industry – and why it matters for your business.

Here are a few potential digital signage trends that you need to be aware of!

1) Internet of things (IoT) compatibility

The internet of things (IoT) is a network of devices that are all connected together. 

Similar to how humans can share information via the World Wide Web, the internet of things is a system where computers do the sharing – and there’s a lot of potential here for digital signage.

Imagine your window display’s content automatically updating based on nearby changes. For example, a QSR store has items placed in a “smart fridge” – and it tracks the availability of specific ingredients. When it notices that the item is sold out, it automatically transmits this information to your digital menu board to remove the out of stock item from the menu or replace it with something else.

Imagine a world where digital signage and displays intelligently react to their surroundings!

2) Augmented reality (AR)

Just like analog and static signs, the whole purpose of digital signage is engagement with an audience. Augmented reality (AR) technology could take engagement to a whole new level. 

Remember that augmented reality adds virtual elements on top of the actual world (like the popular mobile game Pokemon Go, which superimposed pretend Pokemon on top of the environment around you via your mobile device). 

Well, what if digital signage could interplay with your mobile device to provide additional information or a more personalised experience? What if you could hold up your phone over a digital display to see an ad that’s based on what you’re most interested in? And as a business owner, think of the data you could collect from real-world shoppers interacting with your displays! 

3) Personalisation 

What if displays could recognise individual users and provide a custom experience to them based on their interests and preferences? 

For example, you’re walking down the High Street and notice a window display. Like banner ads that are customised to you based on your search history, the window display could share sales on items just for you! 

Or you walk into a hotel and the display has your reservation pulled up on-screen as you approach. The reality is, screens have the potential to use recognition and data to provide a personalised experience to you – whether for advertising, information, custom deals, and more!   

Conclusion

This is just a quick overview of digital signage’s past, present, and future – plus what it means for your business.

The reality is, digital signage will only become more prevalent in the coming years. The application of digital displays is so much more than just a moving picture on a billboard or poster – now, you can expect digital displays with everything from rich video to real-time data sharing to personalised experiences.

If you’re wondering whether now is the time to invest in digital displays, I hope this article has shown you why it’s important to consider them for your business – not just for today, but for the near future. 

Want to get up to speed on digital displays for your business? Please give us a call at James Hogg Display! 

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