The Digital Signage Insider

Digital Retailing, Digital Merchandising, Visual Retailing, or Something Else?

Published on: 0000-00-00

In past articles, I've written about the apparent convergence of the digital signage and interactive kiosks industries and technologies, and indeed we continue to see this happening (for recent evidence, check out NextWindow's press release on a cool touch-plasma display deployment in Hong Kong).  With advances like these, our industry is starting to become a more closely aligned with other, much larger industries like store fixtures and POP displays, or even advertising.  While this is going to be a very important part of the evolution of things like interactive kiosks and digital signs, it creates a new, interesting twist for vendors like WireSpring who currently serve up the technology to power these devices, but haven't (up to this point) been involved in the larger industries very much.  The problem, you ask?  Well, it starts with what to call our part of the industry...

We already have terms like digital signage, dynamic signage, narrowcasting, captive audience networks, interactive kiosks, self-service terminals and probably a hundred others that crowd in on each other trying to more succinctly get the idea across.  And as you can tell from the solution articles linked to above, at WireSpring, at least, we try to attach some meaning to each of these, when possible.  So, for example, we believe that "dynamic digital signage" is a subset of "digital signage."  Likewise, these devices can be used to build in-store television networks or captive audience networks by narrowcasting content to the displays.  There is a huge amount of overlap between these terms, but the slightly different connotations given to them by the different companies in our market makes it hard to figure out what to look for when doing a web search or talking to a consultant.

The problem is compounded when a retailer or retail fixtures company, for example, tries to learn about these products and services, or wishes to include them in their current product portfolio.  Depending on which term you search for or ask about, you may get different results.  Additionally, there isn't any universally accepted moniker for the industry as a whole.  I like the sound of things like "digital retailing" or "digital merchandising," but they haven't really caught on yet.  Similarly, we could lump ourselves into an already-accepted term like "visual merchandising," but that's probably too broad, as it encompasses things like retail POP and fixtures (for great visual merchandising information, you should visit VisualStore).

As more attention is paid to kiosks and digital signs, I think we'll probably see people settle on one of the terms above.  For now, though, we'll have to stick with the current hodge-podge of names to make sure that people can find us whenever they think of electronic billboards and signs, digital signage or kiosk software, computer information kiosks and Internet kiosk systems, or whatever else you want to call the huge array of products and services that aim to provide interactive and non-interactive digital content to real-world venues.


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