In 2020, businesses and even higher education institutions were forced to make a critical decision — adapt or die. But they might not have realized how long that commitment would last.

Now, as 2022 kicks off with fitful progress, tentative plans, and significant volatility, businesses are finding themselves taking greater risks so they can differentiate themselves and win market share.

Take the quick service restaurant industry’s leap into digital menu boards for instance, or higher education’s rapid integration of remote learning into traditional degree programs. Over the last year, these initiatives have solidified into habit. Customers expect digital options that enhance their purchase journey.

Optimizing Digital Signage for Customers and Businesses

Now that many have established digital signage infrastructure, in 2022, we are going to see organizations doing more with their digital signage platforms. The focus will shift to tuning, testing, and discovering additional sources of value from the changes made in 2020 – 2021.

A/B testing to raise digital signage ROI in restaurants and retail

Digital signage gives businesses tremendous flexibility to experiment with content. And in any customer-facing industry, the right content can drive significant lift in sales.

eCommerce websites and Digital Marketing campaigns have used A/B testing for decades to hone in on the best copy and collateral. Fundamentally, A/B testing provides a scientific way for businesses to improve conversion rates by testing out multiple options before selecting the top performer.

Digital signage brings the same capability to the store experience. Top quick service and fast casual restaurants, such as Krispy Kreme, have already started to experiment with A/B testing on Digital Menu Boards (DMBs) with demonstrable succession raising digital signage ROI. This is simply a best practice that is in the early stages of adoption for in-store digital signage technology.

In addition to initial successes, technology is also catalyzing adoption in retail, as well. Smart shelf technology and in-store analytics allow retailers to deploy signage to the point of purchase and measure impact of content on everything from pathing to basket size.

Smart pickup: In-Store digital signage

In 2021, businesses experimented with omnichannel as a stopgap measure. Services like Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) and Curbside Pickup continued to spread through the end of 2021. While home delivery is a larger obstacle for many businesses, in-store pickup is achievable and is commonly practiced. Over the course of the pandemic, 4 out of every 10 Americans tried a new shopping channel, and almost 3 out of every 4 who did try a different channel, plan to continue using the service (“The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing”). Omnichannel has taken a permanent place in business.

As omnichannel becomes more established, customers expect more streamlined services. There was a lot of development in 2021, but businesses still need to close the loop with digital. Smart Pickup options will provide clear digital labeling and communications regarding order status. This will help save time for employees and customers and ultimately build loyalty in 2022.
Loyalty bridges the gap to customer data
Loyalty apps also took off. Top performing quick service restaurants grew subscribers by more than 1 million per month in 2021. Now that the new behavior has been established, these businesses are experimenting with more personalized services and leveraging loyalty to understand their customers on a deeper level.

This trend is driven by a turning point in consumer attitudes toward tracking. Consumers don’t mind giving data to businesses — as long as they receive value in return.

It all ties back to personalization. In order to receive streamlined service, customers must be willing to have their data analyzed and used to deliver more relevant, personalized service. In-store digital signage closes the loop on the personalization experience between mobile and store.

Employee education

Labor shortage was another consistent theme in 2021 for retailers and restaurants. Rising wages attracted some to work, but shortages continue into the new year. Businesses are starting to take a deeper look at employment. They are finding new ways to attract, train, engage and retain workers. Digital signage is one.

Savvy businesses have always maximized their digital signage investments by delivering different content to screens depending on the time of day. But what happens to displays during off-hours? Businesses are starting to use signage to deliver employee-facing tools and communications. Everything from training videos, to birthdays and work schedules. Displays are being used as endpoints for live business data, which helps automate information delivery.

We expect to see employee-facing displays continue to take off in 2022 as more businesses discover how in-store digital signage can be used for both customer and employee experience.

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