digital-signage5Performance by the numbers …

Intel Corporation estimates that by 2015, there will 22 million digital displays and 10 million media players.

In August, 2010, Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) was quoted: “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. That’s something like five exabytes of data – let me repeat that: we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003?.

Combine these two factoids and you quickly realize that everyone is being bombarded with digital information all the time. Today, your customers are overwhelmed with information on digital signs everywhere they go. So how in the world can a common digital sign, with even better than average messaging, make a meaningful difference moving your business ahead? How can a company rise above the visual noise?

The answer lies in a word – context. Content may be king but context is what differentiates your brand from all others. Creating context means defining your brand and its story in a clear manner, then creating experiences that touch the hearts of people.

Measuring how well you’ve done setting your brand story apart from others, touching your customers emotions with unique experiences, against financial metrics is not hard. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. all provide quantitative measuring tools with number of likes, tweets, and so on. This is the brand halo and perpetual buzz. In a recent presentation, Gary Vaynerchuk talked about social media (paraphrased for brevity): “Word of mouth is the currency – with the social media ecosystem, we now have infrastructure to listen and respond in a massive way with our customers – this is the new game. It is where you get ROI”. In the near future, having someone tweet that chocolate-covered pretzels are delicious WHILE YOU’RE IN THE STORE, then having a promotion either on your phone or in a digital “experience” will convert me as a shopper into a buyer. Some technology innovators and partners have this kind of connective tissue today.

While it takes some analysis and practice, a good in-store experiential “digital canvas” should provide rich data to compare against sell through data at POS. The correlating time of day windows with POS creates the opportunity to see patterns and specific SKU’s that were featured or seen in some experience that SHOULD trigger a desire for a guest to interact with your product, service, or simply your people.

If the data suggests that the experience did not yield the expected results, look at the content and the context in which it was presented to provide clues to improving the experience. Done properly, digital experiences that engage more than three of the senses, WILL create lasting impressions. Digital experiences that encourage a customer to touch or taste a product, WILL move the sales and margin needles. As long as you can collect data from the experience that includes time of day, you can analyze and measure results.

Always raising the bar in everything they do, Apple’s stores connect to guests with knowledgeable sales personnel, the ultra cool Genius Bar, top of the line technology (of course most recently the iPhone5) and an exceptional environment that is, integrated, welcoming and efficient. According to RetailSails, Apple Stores is out-performing the average retail by a factor of 17X in the US alone!

• Annual store sales in the range of $300 per square foot is considered respectable in the US.
• The US national average for regional malls is $341.
• The average for specialty apparel retailers is $400 per square foot.
• The average for jewelers is in the range of $600 per square foot.
• The median for the best 20 US retailers is $787/sq. ft.
• Apple stands at $6,200/sq ft!
Apple is now the largest publicly traded company in the world!!! How do they continue to drive amazing in-store experiences and turn them into sales? Their products are certainly very compelling and the Apple branded products like the iPhone 5, are the products of choice. But the fact the Apple Stores have created and scaled a concierge service – The Genius Bar AND provided a fun way to engage the senses, are the core needle movers in my humble opinion. Just look at their store performance against any other retail store.

According to ICSC (from a recent Terranomics report) statistics (2009), there is 14.2 BILLION square feet of retail space. Make every square foot count!