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Keeping a competitive (shelf) edge

Six ways to do better business with digital signs in retail

The retail landscape; it’s shifting. E-Commerce continues to encourage shopping outside the brick-and-mortar “box” and consumers continue to shop with mobile devices in hand—often times turning your stores into showrooms. But even with those considerations, the changing landscape isn’t a bad one for brick-and-mortar retailers … not at all. In fact, 90% of all retail sales are still transacted in stores.

That said, today’s consumers have a lot of options (and they know it). So, the question for brick-and-mortar retailers isn’t how to combat challenges from e-commerce and mobile devices. Instead, the question should be “how can we make our customers more loyal?”

Digital signs and labels: The right kind of "new" technology

Though not necessarily new, digital shelf-edge signs and ESLs are still novel. And, since digital signs allow for real-time updates, retailers can employ competitive pricing—giving retailers a new, compelling way to communicate with customers.

Below are six ways a successful digital signage program benefits brick-and-mortar retailers:

1. Do more: Better, faster and across all stores

Today, making sure product information is up to date and consistent across all touch points is pivotal to maintaining a retailer’s overall brand promise and ensuring customer satisfaction. Retailers consider two of the top strategic business challenges to be:

  • Increased price sensitivity among consumers (57%), and
  • Increased promotional intensity among competitors (41%)3

When surveyed, 55% of retailers recognize the importance of responding quickly to competitors' pricing changes, and 44% acknowledge that dynamic pricing is more effective than traditional price matching.4 Dynamic pricing enables retailers to alter product pricing on the fly based on market demands and competitors' strategies. 

With digital signs and ESLs, changing prices is faster and requires less labor. Team members simply update the pricing system and immediately publish new content in real time to digital devices at multiple locations. There's no time or labor spent manually hanging paper signs. It all happens electroncially. 

2. Maximize real-time merchandising

Merchandising plays a vital role in keeping customers engaged and excited about shopping in a store. A digital approach to in-store merchandising consisting of digital displays at the end of aisles, shelf-edge signs, or both, enables retailers to revise in-store messaging and pricing as often as they need to deliver a compelling shopping experience. 

Promotional events, such as buy-one-get-one (BOGO), flash sales and “happy hour” specials, can be limited when advertised with paper signage. However, with digital signs and ESLs, retailers can schedule multiple promotional events to be rolled out throughout the day or on certain days of the week for a truly agile promotional strategy. And, retailers are better able to tap into detailed analytics about merchandising and promotional performance, enabling them to understand which tactics resonate with shoppers and which do not. 

3. Maximize the endcap

Many retailers—especially grocers and mass merchandisers—use endcaps, the retail space at the front of aisles, to drive sales for vendor partners. Endcaps increase customer engagement, dwell time and overall sales, driving up to 30% of store sales.7 However, endcap promotions are typically expensive to produce and difficult to change out. 

With a digital endcap approach, retailers can update promotional displays more frequently and at a lower cost. Instead of having to install and dismantle a paper-based endcap promotion, they can use a digital display and update media as needed. The flexibility to quickly and efficiently update endcap promotions enables retailers to motivate more sales based on customer demands with fewer promotional costs.

4. Good for the environment, good for business

Though retailers continue to use paper signage, fliers and circulars, implementing and expanding the use of digital technology in the store significantly reduces paper waste. 

Global paper consumption is on the rise, with North Americans each consuming 500 pounds of paper on an annual basis.6 Retailers that reduce the use of traditional paper signage not only help decrease these consumption rates, but also cut back their internal spend on printing materials, including ink and toner. 

If consumers see that retailers are taking the appropriate measures to reduce waste and improve the environment, they will have a more positive image of the entire brand. In fact, they may see an increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty. After all, more consumers are “thinking green,” with 71% of Americans considering the environment when they shop.Digital signage is an efficient and effective way for retailers to put a sustainable spin on stores and show customers that they care.

5. Beyond digital signage: Expand the investment in employees

Store associates are undeniably the lifeblood of the retail store. They play a pivotal role in the in-store experience and tackle daily tasks that are vital to the business, including stocking shelves, crafting merchandise displays, finalizing customers’ purchases and offering assistance while shoppers are browsing in the aisles. 

When asked what they expect from store associates when they enter a store, most consumers (68%) said they expect employees to be an expert on products sold in a location.8 After all, consumers use their mobile devices to research products in the store, but they still expect associates to have better, more detailed information if they do, in fact, have a question. 

Digital signs and ESLs streamline daily operations and enable employees to accomplish more throughout the day. Tearing, sorting and hanging signs are time-consuming but critical tasks for employees. Reducing, or even eliminating, the time it takes for them to complete these tasks enables store associates to focus on interacting with shoppers, learning about new products and stocking inventory.

6. Make your brand stand out

More retailers are investing in digital technology to bring their brick-and-mortar experiences to new levels and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Top opportunities for implementing technology in stores include: 

  • Maintaining or improving the customer experience (59%); 
  • Increasing revenue while holding down operational costs (46%); and 
  • Bringing more of the digital experience into stores (34%).9

Digital signs and ESLs help retailers achieve these goals and improve the overall brand image by redefining the way they reach specific shoppers. Content, promotions and pricing strategies can now be based on unique business goals, as well as consumer demands. Prices, promotions, markdowns and merchandise displays can change on a dime across all stores, and associates can focus their time and energy on more important, customer-facing tasks. This more nimble, real-time and environmentally conscious approach to store operations can only be achieved with a digital signage program in place.  


A digital signage strategy enables retailers to change product pricing and promotions in real time. But that doesn’t mean that retailers should disregard the value of printed signs. After all, the industry’s progression into the digital space is ongoing, and print content still provides value to both retailers and consumers. 

Retailers shouldn’t have to choose between print and digital signage. With a strategy that includes both methods of output, retailers can tailor signage tasks and processes to fit their operational needs while staggering the transition from paper to digital.

With a strategy that includes both digital and printed output, retailers can tailor signage tasks to fit their operational needs while staggering the transition from paper to digital. 


In today’s hyper-competitive environment, retailers must do whatever they can to stand out. By implementing digital signage and ESLs, retailers can: 

  • Ensure price consistency across all locations; 
  • Test new discounting and merchandising strategies quickly and efficiently; 
  • Maximize valuable store real estate, such as endcaps; 
  • Engage with consumers in an environmentally friendly way; 
  • Successfully engage employees in more value-added tasks; and
  • Make a statement with your brand.  

Forward-thinking retail leaders already are taking advantage of this technology’s new capabilities to pique consumer interest, boost engagement and increase overall time spent in stores.


Sources: 1. A.T. Kearney, Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study. July 2014; 2. Deloitte Digital, The New Digital Divide. April 2014; 3. Retail Systems Research, The Pricing Paradox. April 2014; 4. Retail Systems Research, The Pricing Paradox. April 2014; 5. Herb Sorensen, Ph.D., Inside The Mind Of The Shopper; 6.; 7. Cone Communications, 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker. April 2013; 8. Retail Systems Research, What’s In Store For Stores? June 2014; 9. Accenture and Forrester Research, Customer Desires Vs. Retailer Capabilities: Minding The Omni-Channel Commerce Gap. January 2014.

Digital signs and labels
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