All Signs Point to Digital – Three Trends from the 2017 Digital Signage Expo

Signs, signs, everywhere signs. Normally a utilitarian necessity used to point someone to the shoe section or let them know those paper towels are 40 percent off, we saw signs in a different light at this year’s Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas.

It looks like digital’s reach will become much broader and have a bigger impact in the shopper’s journey in the very near future based on the booths we visited and the examples we saw. Here are three trends we keyed in on while we were in the desert:

1. Businesses can activate spaces with digital fabric graphics

Graphics printed on high-quality fabric already exist in the marketplace in locations like clothing stores, electronics stores, hotels, and even banks. They’re great when a space needs high-quality graphics at a cost-efficient price. We saw a booth at the DSE that took these fabric graphics to another level.

Kendu, an in-store visual solutions company, developed Flowbox, a new technology that features a digital screen behind the fabric graphic to create a dynamic experience that brings the signage to life. At 15 percent of the cost of installing a TV, it lets nearly any retailer add more light, motion, and color to their fabric graphics without a large investment in resources. Plus, the footprint for this is minimal and will allow retailers to add digital signage without the need to purchase electronic screens or to create content to run on those screens.

2. All signage is moving toward digital

Whether it’s a billboard on the highway, the menu hanging on the wall at a restaurant, or a sign pointing the way to the nearest bathroom, you’re already seeing this shift happen. From what we saw at the DSE, this trend will only continue to grow in reach. Next-generation display technology delivers more visual vibrancy and content capability, so signage can work harder and more efficiently than previous iterations.

Several companies had technology for making digital rail strips and fact tags for retail destinations. Some even had facial recognition software built in, allowing content on the digital signs to be catered to the individual who is in front of the display at that time.

3. There are displays in shapes, sizes, and configurations we’ve never seen before

Another reason all signs are heading to digital is that the technology has advanced enough to produce displays to fit nearly any configuration. The variety of display sizes, shapes, and even curves is also growing, so whether you need bright, hi-def screens to embed in a seven-foot-tall, four-sided pillar, a small, clear screen to fit within a rail strip or endcap, or a curved display to wrap around an existing pillar, you will have product options from which to choose. That’s what we saw throughout the exhibitor floor at DSE.

For outdoor installations, there were bright, clear waterproof displays. For lesser footprints, we saw 2-centimeter-thick “wallpaper” displays from LG that are so thin they could be embedded and framed in glass. They could even be two-sided and show different content on each side. With all of these configurations that can create a customized look in nearly any space, it’s clear that display manufacturers are following the marketplace trend of creating more unique, inviting, and interactive consumer experiences.

As we explored the DSE show, we looked at everything through our retail design/experiential lens. The flexibility of the tech in various footprints will only enhance the customization and branding possibilities when it comes to design aesthetics.

We also think the impact of these digital advancements will open the door to providing enhanced interactivity as part of the customer journey. You could create a true destination that leverages various digital displays with custom content for learning, product demonstration, customer review research, and more.