Digital Signage Solutions for Small Business

Digital Signage Solutions for Small Business

Entrepreneurs and small business owners recognize the benefits of digital signage.  It doesn’t matter the type of business or its location.  Digital signage has become an essential tool for all types of businesses.

In this article, we’ll look at what to look for in a digital signage solution for your small business.

Playlist vs. Rule-Based Programming

Digital signage solutions are mostly offered in two types of configurations.  There are those who let you create playlists for your content, and those who use rules to determine when your content should play.  Some of the more advanced solutions let you do both.  This means you can create playlists and apply rules and tags to your content to further control how it will behave.

Playlists are great because it offers you real, “hands-on” control.  It’s a bit like creating musical playlists on a smartphone.  Some playlist-based digital signage CMS software let you play content in sequence or randomly each time the playlist loops.  Playlists are easy to learn and use, even for non-technical users.

Rule and tag-based programming work differently.  There are no playlists.  Instead, you enter a series of rules that will determine where and when individual content will play.  You can pick various options such as “every Monday between 8 AM and 10 AM” or “every day starting at noon”.  Tags work differently.  You tag your content and then it will only play on players that have been assigned the matching tag.  In some cases, you can apply multiple tags to your content and decide if the players require all the tags or only one or more of the assigned tags.  Rule and tag-based programming work together to offer different types of programming capabilities over strictly playlist-based programming.

Digital signage software that combines playlists, rules, and tag-based programming features is the most sought-after, as they can essentially deliver the capabilities required to tackle any project.

Native vs. Interpreted Digital Signage Software

In a nutshell, native software is always best.  It delivers the best performance and is the most reliable.  While there are software products that are written in interpreted programming languages, they tend to be entry-level and lack many features that businesses need.  It’s true that native/professional-grade solutions tend to cost more.  But business owners understand it’s sometimes better to get the right product for the job even if it costs more out of the gate.  The savings come out over time.

On-Premise vs. Cloud-Based Digital Signage

This ties in with our previous statements.  Small business owners can’t afford to be constantly on the phone with technical support to get their screens back online.  Most small businesses lack the internal resources to support and maintain a complete, end-to-end digital signage solution.  These are called on-premise systems for a reason.  The Content Management Server hardware and software are hosted at the business site.  In this scenario, the business owner is responsible for all the components of his digital signage system.  This option requires a lot of upfront capital and a commitment to support and maintain the entire system.

Most small business owners prefer cloud-based solutions because there is no upfront capital investment required.  Also, support and maintenance are handled by a third party so these businesses can concentrate on what they do best. The digital signage hosting provider is there to ensure the smooth operation of the back-end server and content storage.  For many businesses, this represents the most attractive solution because there are no large upfront fees to pay.  Just a monthly fee associated with each deployed player license.  As the business grows, more licenses are added for an incremental fee.

For many small businesses, cloud-based solutions represent the best option.

Web-Based Content Management

Regardless of the type of digital signage solutions, it’s important to consider the user dashboard.  Here again, simple is best and web-based is the simplest solution of all.  There is no local software to install or maintain.  You simply type in the digital signage server’s URL and you are ready to go.  Your dashboard is always up to date-and ready with the most current features.

Small businesses should avoid software that requires local software to be installed as these products tend to be more complicated to configure and use.  They also require periodic updates and upgrades which must be installed manually.

Here’s how many small businesses leverage digital signage solutions for their operations.

sales retail

Retail Sales

Smart merchants rely on strategically located displays to ensure maximum viewer exposure to promotional content.  They make sure there is a constant stream of ads and product information shown on their screen so shoppers can find the best deals throughout the day.  The benefits are increased sales, increased margins, higher stock turnover, and reduced advertising costs.

Content can be pulled from existing digital ads (electronic flyers), YouTube videos, and vendor-provided advertising material so there is little additional effort required to populate screens with content.

For the best possible impact, screens are installed in key traffic areas such as aisle end caps, above service desks, or near check-outs.

Digital signage helps retailers fight against online retailers by providing actionable information at the point of decision.  It’s become the great equalizer for many small business owners.

Quick-Service Restaurants

With digital signage, small QSR chains have the means to compete with larger restaurant chains.  It starts with well-designed digital menu boards that feature professional photography, and well-executed animated content.  These are the type of menus that encourage customers to try out new items or buy a complete meal.  Combos are always popular and digital signage displays are a great way to promote them.  Displays can include detailed product descriptions, dietary information, and promotions that can change throughout the day.  Even single-location restaurants can benefit from digital signage.  You no longer need to have a team of artists and developers to achieve impressive results.  Anyone can set up a simple digital menu board and start selling.

QSR Menu Board

Travel Agencies

Current trends in e-commerce have impacted many travel agencies since many still operate out of brick-and-mortar locations.  These agencies tend to be in shopping malls or inside larger stores. They use digital signage displays in their front window to show enticing travel videos and colorful ads to attract mall shoppers looking for a sunny destination. Digital signage helps travel agencies fight back against online travel sites by providing a direct means of communicating and attracting customers while they are out and about.

Like many retail locations, travel agencies understand the need to illustrate their product in a powerful way while informing customers of the best deals available. Digital signage’s ability to display real-time data such as holiday specials, weather forecasts, flight departure, and arrivals is extremely useful to travelers looking for their next vacation spot.

Food Markets

It doesn’t matter if you are selling fruits, vegetables, meat, fish or poultry… everyone benefits from digital price boards.  In fact, digital signage is fast becoming a “must-have” for many food markets. Food prices fluctuate constantly which traditionally meant using whiteboards, and erasable markers to maintain the price boards. The problem? Whiteboards are boring and they look cheap.  With so many food stores getting into organic produce and exotic meats, it’s time to take price boards upscale.  This is where digital signage can make a big difference. Digital displays show live data taken from any source and information is updated in real-time.  Store owners simply manage the pricing in a spreadsheet and the prices come up automatically on their screens. Displays can show prices, photos, and videos to reflect the store’s brand and positioning.

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