Retail is the single biggest opportunity for digital signage – but specialist e-commerce firms could soon muscle in on the market for screens in stores, Scala CEO Tom Nix believes.
Speaking to Screenmediamag.com at the International Scala Conference in Amsterdam today, Nix said that retail now represents “more than 40 percent” of the potential market for his firm, one of the best-known and longest-established vendors of digital signage software.
Retailers’ realisation that consumers’ attention – increasingly occupied by their personal screens – needs to be drawn back into the store, along with lower capex requirements for digital signage, are factors behind the increased demand for sophisticated networks, he said, contrasting them with the flashy but often ill-thought-out retail deployments of earlier years.
Rather than emphasising big, highly visible screens, many retailers are now equally interested in smaller media such as shelf-edge units, said Nix. Systems like Scala’s can help them “join the dots” by closely examining data to assess a network’s true impact, for example by filtering out the effects of marketing campaigns in other media.
However, he cautioned, while the lessons learned from e-commerce in analysing the relationship of media to consumer behaviour have helped encourage retailers toward a more thoughtful use of digital signage, this new approach is also likely to open up the retail media market to e-commerce firms.
A “land grab” is probable, said Nix, with e-commerce specialists using their expertise in close analysis to pioneer in-store innovations such as Wi-Fi triangulation of consumer locations.
An example of this was provided elsewhere at the Scala conference in a presentation by Lars Kanstrup, business director of the Danish digital agency Combine. Coming from an e-commerce background, his company was now looking to “approach retail marketing with an omni-channel strategy”, said Kanstrup, by applying to physical stores the kind of data techniques routinely employed online.
Scala, however, is not without tricks up its sleeve. For instance, it recently launched its Fling product, which crosses the difficult-to-bridge gap between personal devices and public visibility by allowing shoppers to “move” the content displayed on their tablet to a larger display at the flick of a finger.
Four users of Fling are lined up already, including one in the U.S. with plans for a “social shopping” application and two others in Europe, said Nix, who joined Scala three years ago after starting up Dynamax’s North American operation and became CEO a year later.