Digital signage takes off in UK but penetration in supermarkets remains low

Burger King has installed digital signage for menu displays

Uptake of digital signage among UK retailers has nearly quadrupled to 46,000 stores from 12,500 since 2007, according to new research commissioned by LG Electronics, a leading producer of digital signage products.

And it is expected to rise to 58,000 by the end of 2011.

However, penetration in supermarkets remains low with just 1,100 screens present in this channel.

Conversely, convenience stores and CTNs have the highest penetration of digital signage screens. Excluding electrical retailers, more than half – 36,792 – of the 71,092 screens in total are in situ in convenience and CTN outlets. They are primarily owned and operated by Camelot and used to promote the National Lottery.

The survey, conducted by POPAI UK & Ireland, the trade association for companies involved in point of purchase and retail communications, polled UK retailers, brand owners, shopping centres and network operators.

It found there are 111 screen networks within the UK retail sector versus 97 in 2007, the last time research was conducted.

Including electrical retailers, there are 131,560 screens in situ versus 102,582 three years ago, and retailers who were using screens in 2007 have increased the number of screens they use.

On average, screens are present in third of retailers outlets and there are an average of three screens per store. Over half of all screens present have been installed over the last three years. The majority are wall mounted but window screens are growing in popularity, the survey found.

Screen sizes have increased too but synchronisation with audio has not tracked digital screen growth.

According to Nick Gale, head of digital for POPAI and founder of Realisation, a company specialising in designing and producing visual content for retailers, this is because there has been increased use of short form content, which is intensely engaging to capture shoppers in a small window of opportunity.

The survey also found consumers’ experience of digital signage is set to become increasingly sophisticated as more touch screen technology, designed specifically for the retail market is introduced. Currently, only one in five retailers use interactive screens, but nearly half of those surveyed said they would install touch screen technology in 2011, with a further 25% considering it as a possibility.

Warren Lewis, sales director, LG Electronics, said: “Retailers are becoming more sophisticated in their use of digital signage.

“They are beginning to realise consumers are now expecting a more interactive experience. With the spread of touch screen mobile phones and tablet computers, many people have become used to using touch screens as part of everyday life. Interaction with visual media has become second nature to many, meaning they are more engaged with the material presented to them. Therefore, the use of this technology on digital signage is no longer being seen as an added bonus – it has become a necessity.”

The survey also showed retailers are updating the content more regularly than they have done before. The majority (58%) update content on a weekly basis, with 40% updating at least daily. This increase of content frequency is being aided by a proliferation of screen network connectivity. More than half of respondents (57.5%) received content either through the internet, satellite or 3G.