The Cremins Christmas tree is now up and the presents about to be wrapped. Cards have been dropped from the letterbox to the doormat with well wishes from far and wide and hopes that we’ll be able to see each other over the break or in the coming year. The news may be full of warnings and cautions but I remain careful yet optimistic.

Last year I wrote about the paper QR codes stuck in store windows as part of the UK’s Covid monitoring efforts. As restrictions have lifted those QR codes have been removed but many have been replaced in the last couple of weeks with new paper signs reminding shoppers to wear their masks. These paper signs, tacked up with tape in windows or mounted in a temporary stand in the store entrances, join the hardcopy signage in many shop window displays — displays that will be binned as Christmas gift shopping gives way to Boxing Day sales and New Year promotional campaigns.

I think it is (warning, pun incoming) time to call a wrap on paper signage. As someone who works with digital solutions, I am biased but I feel paper signage is just so limited compared to what is possible with digital. Digital signs featuring moving images better serve the public grabbing the attention of passersby to communicate promotions, product offering as well as safety measures such as wearing masks.

Digital signage is also just so versatile with the ability to communicate many messages across a trading day or season. As I open another door on my vegan chocolate advent calendar (I decided against the Chanel No.5 one), I think about the ways in which digital signage can offer something similar for retail customers. In-store screens can reveal a new promotion each day in December and, with touch screen technology, customers can reveal the daily deal much like they open a door on their advent calendar. On-screen messaging could also work in conjunction with shoppers’ personal devices, possibly with street-facing QR codes. This type of daily promotional campaigns are all but impossible with hard copy assets.

Digital also allows brands to roll out campaigns based around news stories or external stimuli such as the weather or anonymous customer data. Using AI and automated systems, promotions can change to highlight those products likely to be most relevant to customers at the time. The ability to create and display a variety of promotions also allows for A/B testing on marketing messages or for one product to be sold in a variety of ways: ‘A perfect gift for her’/ ‘treat yourself this year’. Using technology such as shelf-edge signage, numerous products can be sold from one end of bay display or aisle, each with their own messaging.

The versatility of a digital signage solution also reduces waste - both in terms of staff time and the actual promotional collateral itself. With a digital display solution, a multitude of creative campaigns can be scheduled and run without filling the bins with old signage. The flexibility of digital also means that not only different campaigns can be run but also different safety messages shown and if needed. The network can be adapted and broadened to incorporate new operational needs such as occupancy management systems or legislative requirements such as the new HFSS regulations rolling out in ten months time.

So a few thoughts on digital and the opportunities that digital solutions can offer brands. It’s been another year of business challenges for brands and frankly, although I am optimistic for what lies ahead, there are a lot of uncertainties. Flexibility and scalability will be key for brands as will be a technology partner that understands the possibilities of what well tailored technology can do.

Whatever your plans for the festive period, I hope you have a safe and peaceful break and a Happy New Year. Do get in touch if you’d like to know more about how Scala can help you to achieve your 2022 business goals.

A Wrap on Paper

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