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Signage in a retail store provides information about products and promotions and tips for navigating the layout. Digital signage is becoming ever more popular, because it also offers the advantage of quick changes.

Wal-Mart currently uses digital signage in 330 of its stores and will have it in 2,700 stores by the end of 2010. The discount retailer installs televisions throughout the stores that provide endless communication to customers as they shop. The digital signage might direct them to a certain area of the store or offer a meal idea. This constant connection also means that customers can respond immediately to the call to action included in advertising.

Suppliers and vendors can purchase commercial spots in the store. A 3.5 hour programming clip may include a variety of sponsors, which receive repeat exposures on a regular basis. This type of advertising achieves a greater return on investment than TV spots on cable television, because the customers (and employees) are in the store and keep watching the ads.

Alternatively, the signage might provide customized programming. If a particular store has too many diapers, an ad offering 20 percent off diapers can appear instantly. Customers note the ad and the great price, then choose diapers off the shelf. The real-time aspect of such programming thus can have a direct impact on sales.

Digital signage benefits not only the companies that advertise but also customers who gain information. The signage generally is aesthetically pleasing, creating an upbeat environment. In a store like Wal-Mart, which often appear somewhat mundane and overwhelmingly large, digital signage should improve both the visual environment and the in-store experience.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the benefits of digital signage?
  2. How are retailers using digital signage?

Marilyn Much, “Digital Signage A Sign of Times At Retail Stores,” Investor’s Business Daily, November 28, 2008.