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Digital Signage Improves Customer Experience

Feb 24, 2010 3:26 PM

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The Solution

Initially, Southcentre thought that they would be able to manage the content on all of the screens themselves, using Microsoft Power Point. After struggling with the lack of scheduling ability, the restricted graphical capabilities, and the limited functionality of using Power Point to manage a large digital signage deployment, Southcentre decided that they needed to find a better solution. “We originally used very basic software to manage content on the screens, but we found that it was not able to meet our needs, as the content on the screens did not look very compelling and the scheduling aspect was not sophisticated enough,” says Shawn Hanson, Southcentre general manager.

Southcenter decided that it was time to get some advice from an experienced digital signage professional, so they contacted Sharp’s Audio Visual. Sharp’s Audio Visual is an experienced audio visual integrator, with national reach in Canada. Having been involved in numerous enterprise-wide integration systems, they were fully capable of taking on a project of this size. “Sharp’s Audio Visual was brought on to the project to advise about the software options available to manage the digital signage system. After reviewing what our main objectives and future plans for the system would include, Sharp’s recommended Omnivex,” Hanson says.

Previously, the content on the screens had limited functionality due to limitations with the scheduling, media file playback, and the inability to make the content interactive. Sharp’s immediately trained Southcenter’s Building Services Technician, Ryan Roch about how to use the Omnivex software and then deployed it to manage all of the existing screens. The digital signage is managed from a central location using Omnivex software. “The software was easy to learn how to use and made creating content quick and easy. Now we have schedules that allow us to play unique content on all of the screens,” Roch says. Content includes all types of multimedia files, a ticker zone, live news and weather, entertainment, and advertising.

In the sports zone, they are able to show live sporting events, sports highlights, and a ticker with sports news. Since Omnivex software allows users to create content in the native resolution of the screens, the videowall content and all of the other content on the traditional digital signage now looked more vibrant, less pixelated, and more visually captivating. Facility navigation had always been a priority for Southcentre’s guests, so interactive wayfinding screens were installed to help customers navigate the large facility. In other areas such as the two customer service areas, management displays content about mall hours, the services and programs they offer, upcoming events taking place in the mall and the surrounding community, as well as advertisements for the retailers who have space in the facility.

The Results

Southcentre was able to increase the satisfaction of existing tenants while appealing to new tenants by offering them the chance to advertise on the screens throughout the mall. “It’s something that distinguishes us from the other malls. We are able to use our existing digital signage technologies for the benefit of the entire center and our retailers,” says Ryan Roch, Southcentre Mall’s network operator.

“We provide content creation services and the ad space to our retailers free of charge,” says Shawn Hanson. “Shoppers like to learn about promotions taking place in the mall while retailers like to get the brand exposure we are able to provide to them. This also helps boost the sales of those retailers who may be struggling in this down economy. Ultimately, the success of our retailers leads to our success, so we are happy to provide them with the opportunity to increase their visibility. All of the screens also include the Southcenter logo and some display advertising about the mall, helping to promote the mall as the ultimate place to shop.

“Future plans for the digital signage system include expansion into other areas of the shopping center and exploration of further opportunities to promote retailers and other groups using mall space,” Hanson says. Another option is that Southcentre Mall could use its digital signage network to realize an additional return on their investment by offering mall tenants a hosted solution on their existing Omnivex network. This would allow them to offer their retailers the ability to have screens in their stores to promote products, without the need for any training or major infrastructure investments. The software could also be used down the road in the mall’s food court to display menu items, prices, and promotions.

The renovation and addition of digital signage to the mall has reinforced Southcentre as one of Calgary’s best places to shop. Feedback from both shoppers and retailers has been phenomenal.

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