This article is brought to you by SageNet.
TULSA, Okla.—Today’s rapidly changing retailing requirements, safety concerns and consumer tastes make it difficult for communication to keep pace with consumer needs. The COVID-19 pandemic raised these challenges—particularly across a chain of dozens or hundreds of locations—to the c-store c-suite. That’s why many convenience-store operators have accelerated the switch from traditional static signs to flexible, remotely managed and monitored digital signage systems. A state-of-the-art digital signage initiative empowers chains to disseminate up-to-the-second information through text, streaming media, video, animation or audio, all in a strategic, brand consistent manner, according to IV Dickson, SageNet’s vice president of digital experience.
Digital signage still carries a bit of a stigma as expensive and difficult to maintain. However, innovations over the past several years have dramatically reduced CAPEX and OPEX costs while delivering more versatile, larger, lighter, brighter and longer lasting displays. In fact, much of its costs are offset by reductions in printing, shipping and installation of static signage, not to mention the added engagement and instantaneous communication capabilities provided by the multimedia experience.
According to Dickson, there are four ways c-stores can use this technology to really connect with shoppers and employees.
The c-store forecourt gives customers a crucial first impression of the entire operation. Putting digital signage on top, beside or inside the fuel pump lets the store welcome shoppers, cross-sell, upsell, promote products or provide information, such as current traffic reports or health and safety updates.
Customers are a captive audience during the four minutes or so that they typically spend at the fuel pump, and that’s an ideal time to promote products digitally. With the right technology, customers can order food and merchandise and pay at the pump using their mobile phones. Then, they can pick up the purchase in-store, curbside or even have it delivered pumpside.
“Contactless payment and pickup have become even more important during the pandemic,” said Dickson. “As the lines between c-store, QSR and grocery become more and more blurred, it’s important for c-stores to continue to set the bar for convenience.”
Outdoor digital signage can guide and pre-sell customers into a c-store’s drive-thru, and digital menu boards entice them with the latest offerings and specials. The technology allows the messaging to be changed or updated based on daypart, weather, promotions, inventory and tailored offers. When integrated with a store’s loyalty program and Wi-Fi, the sign can recommend specific items based on customer preferences. Flexible menu boards also make it easy to test new products. When no vehicles are present, the menu board can morph into a colorful billboard that can be seen from a distance.
Inside and Out:
High-visibility digital signs perform indoors or outside in the elements. A dual-sided sign can deliver two messages—one to customers in the forecourt and another to shoppers inside the store. System-on-a-chip technology and new cabling standards have greatly reduced costs and simplified implementation.
“At SageNet, we offer a transparent LED film that’s less than 1/16-inch thick and embedded with light diodes that adhere to a glass window,” said Dickson. “Connect it to a media player and it becomes a motion graphics display showing digital content on your store window, while still maintaining the visibility of a pane of glass.”
Back of the House:
In addition, digital signage is ideal for keeping employees up to date on safety requirements, health checks, price changes and new promotions, and it can be updated quickly and easily. When integrated with curbside/pumpside technologies, digital signage can also inform employees of customer arrivals and order status.
“While digital signage has been around for a couple decades now, the technology has really come into its own from an affordability and capabilities standpoint over the past five years. And particularly as c-stores become more agile and further diversify their offerings, the digital experience becomes more than a marketing differentiator. It can also support chain-wide operational and public service roles. With the recent advances in price and performance, I would encourage anyone who hasn’t conducted a cost/benefit digital signage analysis in the last 18 months to take a fresh look. You might be pleasantly surprised,” concluded Dickson.
Don’t miss NACS Magazine’s Q&A with Daryl Woodard, CEO of SageNet, in “Trusted Connections” in the September issue. To read the digital pdf, click here.
This is the first installment of a two-part series about the benefits of digital signage. Read more in the September 21 edition of NACS Daily.