Before going any further, it’s important to begin by saying that the cost of maintaining and running digital signage is much less than you can imagine, on many fronts. For example, just consider all those digital signs in malls, in storefront windows and on the side of buildings in major cities around the world. Can there be a more effective and less expensive form of local advertising than a sign like the Bromley and Co Art Gallery in the storefront windows on Chapel Street in South Yarra?
Featured artists are displayed on huge digital signs in the gallery street-facing windows so that they can entice passers-by into the gallery to peruse the many artists showing there. With that said, that’s just one aspect of digital signage that allows you to understand that just a few sales can more than compensate for the cost of the signage, running it and maintaining it. However, that’s just the beginning!
Comparison of Hard Copy Signage in Retail
Now let’s look at restaurants and stores that traditionally posted sales events on billboard-type signage. It involved a person getting up on an extension ladder to physically change the letters and numbers on those types of signs or posting huge paper signs as often as events or price specials changed. The labour and cost of materials alone are significantly more than the cost of digital signage that can be controlled and changed remotely through proprietary software.
In this light, retail digital signage is so much more cost-effective than ongoing costs to accomplish those tasks mentioned above. If you calculate the printed materials being posted and the cost of labour every time an event or menu changed, it would be far less expensive to purchase digital signage outright. A person sitting at a computer for a few moments to change signs is all the ongoing costs of operating digital signage involves.
Indoor Kiosks in Retail
Not all digital signage is for adverts. Some types are actually functional such as the kiosks in fast food restaurants that allow customers to order from the kiosk and then simply wait until their ‘number’ is called. As an aside here, although these aren’t retail applications, many government and medical offices are using digital signage as a check-in point. It significantly lessons the amount of contact people have with staff and is much more efficient because staff can check in when they are ready to move on to the next person waiting and the process is so much faster.
The same holds true in retail. Digital signage is used to check into Customer Service for questions, tech support or even refunds. Sometimes retail stores take orders online to be picked up at the store. At the appointed time, the customer steps up to the digital signage check-in kiosk, a warehouse worker brings the item or items out, and all is accomplished in moments. This was particularly useful during covid because it limited contact, mitigating the spread of the disease. You can’t quantify the savings in terms of health and worker efficiency.
Hidden Costs in Traditional Signage
This brings up a very good point when it comes to all those otherwise hidden costs in traditional retail signage. When it comes to advertising such as the window signage mentioned above, consider how much it would cost to have flyers and mailers printed whenever a new artist is featured or a new sales event is set to begin. Even if you could do your printing at your place of business, bypassing a printing company, the cost of paper, ink, and labour alone would be a tremendous expense.
Then there’s the hidden cost to the environment you might not be aware of! All those trees being cut to manufacture paper or cardstock and the carbon footprint of manufacturing paper needs to be calculated as well. Sustainability is a key way in which we, as business owners, can reduce the cost to our planet – the only known inhabited planet in the universe. Digital signage is most often LED signage, which uses light-emitting diodes that utilize a low power consumption. That’s a ‘cost’ you should be aware of as well.
The Final Word
The expected lifespan of digital signage is at least ten years if well maintained. In fact, maintenance is rarely needed unless the display sustains some sort of unforeseen damage from passers-by, customers or even weather events. In cases like that, however, insurance usually covers the loss.
Printed signs last a short time before being obsolete, as in the case of finite events, and outdoor printed signage lasts only as long as it can be protected against UV ‘bleaching.’ If you want to consider the cost of buying, maintaining, and operating digital signage in retail, it’s the most cost-effective alternative available. That’s a fact.