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Toni Moss

Demand for digital signage has grown massively in recent years with videowalls, kiosks, menu boards and billboards all becoming near-ubiquitous sights in spaces such as shopping malls, offices, public spaces, hotels, hospitals and even outdoors. Few sectors failed to see the benefits of being able to guide, advise and inform visitors quickly, easily and professionally.

Fast forward to mid-2020, however, and like in so many other areas of life, uncertainty has crept into the sector as concerns were raised that people simply wouldn’t feel safe sharing screens in communal spaces with the threat of COVID-19 still ever-present.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, it was clear to see why sharing devices unnecessarily wouldn’t be popular, but digital signage is about much more than this and it can be key to attracting, retaining and engaging people in so many environments. In addition, manufacturers continue to innovate to create ever safer solutions and extra hygiene measures been widely implemented, making digital signage a vital business tool across many verticals.

Retail

Take retail, for example. This is a sector that has truly embraced digital signage over the past decade and it’s also one that has suffered heavily during the coronavirus pandemic. So, could an informative, eye-catching digital signage installation actually hold the key to helping the high street get back on its feet?

Recent research from Invidis Consulting found that 62% of consumers would refrain from being in proximity with retail staff and 51% would not feel comfortable touching products. Combined with this, 65% want guided selling displays offering personalised recommendation and advice, and 78% want digital screens displaying ongoing content about a brand/product, such as history, origin, ingredients and so on. All of this provides a clear opportunity for digital signage to not only meet customer needs but also to have a direct impact on sales.

It’s important to note, however, that a comprehensive digital signage installation can offer other benefits. Think about how important messaging has become in store in recent months. Whether advising shoppers on when they can enter without having to take staff off the shop floor, reminding people to socially distance and wear face coverings, or just highlighting the importance of shopping locally and supporting your business, digital signage can really come into its own in the current situation, helping to deliver the experience shoppers have missed while keeping them safe as they rebuild their confidence in the retail space.

Corporate

The vast majority of offices closed to employees during the peak of the pandemic and as people begin to return to their workplaces, the focus is on keeping them safe while ensuring they are able to work effectively. Once again digital signage is at least part of the solution here.

It’s likely that many workplaces will have changed significantly in order to safely accommodate the return of employees. One-way systems, limits on the number of people in specific areas, the need to communicate with those who may still be working from home are all set to be features of the COVID-safe office for some time to come. Again, digital signage can make this transition to the new normal much easier with informative signage, reminders about capacity or social distancing and wayfinding information all time savers that don’t rely on a member of staff having the time and capacity to monitor people.

One expected area of growth in the commercial space is voice activation, which will reduce the number of shared touchpoints. Voice-activated displays can be used to schedule and set up meetings while also relaying information about how the spaces are being used.

Education

With all schools across the UK expected to have reopened fully by next month, much time and effort is going into ensuring this is as safe and as normal for teachers and students as possible. Many have used the summer to extend their digital signage estate to ensure clear, consistent messaging both indoors and in communal outdoor spaces.

Across all levels of education, key uses for digital signage will once again focus around health and safety messaging with the need for clear, consistent and up to date messaging in areas such as receptions, corridors, teaching spaces and in pick up and drop off areas. Wayfinding and student flow management will also be important use cases. Eye-catching graphics and text, which can be tailored to appeal to different age groups depending on your education level will ensure messages are seen and understood, while complementing this crucial content with videos, live TV and other material will not only create high-impact communication but could also boost revenue-generation with sponsored content, advertising and offers for the local area.

It should also be noted that some digital signage software can also be utilised as a remote learning tool, leveraging the power of the cloud to deliver learning materials to students and parents should there be a need to continue with a distance learning plan for some students.

Medical

No sector has had to adapt more quickly or respond to such massive challenges as healthcare. The NHS is said to be facing a backlog that could take two years to clear due to many procedures being postponed during the peak of the pandemic, meaning it must continue to innovate in order to reduce the burden it faces.

With many people wary of visiting medical facilities, interactive wayfinding proved a valuable tool, helping to direct visitors and patients to their intended destinations more rapidly, reinforcing social distancing measures and reducing time spent interacting with medical staff, keeping frontline workers protected.

In the future touchless kiosks for patient check-in look set to be a popular choice while voice-activated displays will further reduce the need for interaction with devices.

In fact, signage solutions continue to evolve in response to these changing needs whatever the sector, whether that’s the addition of antibacterial touchscreen coatings, the integration of AI systems for counting people to ensure capacity management, in-built infrared temperature sensors, or biometric systems for facial or corporal recognition to help identify whether an individual is wearing a mask or if social distancing is being maintained.

These are undoubtedly challenging times, but one thing we have seen both during the lockdown and beyond is just how much technology can be part of the solution and how it can help people to rediscover the experiences that have been missing from our lives for so long. Digital signage is no exception, and its power to truly transform situations is undiminished; whatever your needs and whatever your environment, there’s a safe, effective digital signage solution that will meet your needs now and in the future.

To find out more about the digital signage solutions available for corporate, education, retail, medical and more, and how to create COVID-safe spaces, contact the team here

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