Suppliers target retail display market
Digital signage is one of the world’s most promising future technologies. Like the industrial display market, it is a key sector for distributors. And there’s a good reason for that, according to Mats Sjoebrand, marketing director and displays and sales director in North Europe at Avnet Embedded.
“There are not that many customers buying bare panels. Yet display manufacturers aren’t system houses either,” says Sjoebrand. “What we do is provide customers with a complete solution – including system integration and service – from a one-stop shop. Not many or very few display manufacturers can offer that – after all, it’s not their core business.”
Sjoebrand believes one of the big areas for sales potential is currently in the retail market. “This is because retailers are always looking for attractive new ways to promote products to consumers,” he notes. “Digital signage has now become an integral part of retail marketing.”
Retailers benefit from a digital signage platform because it can help them to reduce their costs; once the signage is installed, all they have to do is feed messages into it using a content management system.
But retail isn’t the only area where promotional panels are used. They’re ubiquitous in public places; bus and train stations, hospitals and even restaurants – where they can be used as an interactive menu. Wherever large-format messages need to be utilised, digital signage is growing. “We want to expand the use of digital signage to other sub-markets too,” says Sjoebrand.
Sjoebrand doesn’t think the potential can be measured in a precise way as it’s difficult to make estimates about a market that’s so fragmented. But he believes that growth for his company will be significant over the next few years. “We have a big advantage here because of our extensive partner network, our offices throughout Europe, and our parent company with its global footprint and strong logistical backbone. That isn’t the norm in this sector yet,” he says.
“There are still multiple small, regional players running around throughout the whole value chain. This is fine for smaller local projects, and these do still exist. But for large customers that are planning on deploying digital signage all over Europe, a pan-European system provider like Avnet Embedded is a perfect partner.”
Sjoebrand says it is likely that there will be a spate of consolidation among providers in this sector, similar to the industrial display market over the last few months.
A digital signage system clearly doesn’t come cheaply so are customers put off by the cost? “We always discuss the ROI before the start of a project,” says Sjoebrand. “And we’re currently working with partners on an innovative analysis tool that customers can use to better target their advertising.”
The tool includes a camera that registers interest in specific advertising. This obviously raises the question of whether customers would be happy with this level of monitoring.
In some countries in Europe this is under discussion; this type of analysis would clearly have to comply with the law. “No personal data would be collected – that’s deliberate – and no-one wants to photograph customers. The objective is to collect anonymous statistical data, such as age range and gender,” says Sjoebrand.