Comprehensive digital signage design, installation and management services.
Comprehensive digital signage design, installation and management services.

Five Retail Digital Signage Solutions You Should Consider and Their Cost Implications

Digital signage in retail shopping centre

Wherever you look, there are retail digital signage solutions springing up, as businesses try to communicate with their customers and staff more effectively.

Retail businesses of all shapes and sizes are starting to jump on the bandwagon and bring digital signage displays into and outside their stores. But when you factor in the costs of hardware purchase, installation, software licensing and content creation, it can add up to a significant investment. So, how do you know if it’s a good idea for you? And which type of digital signage solution will give you the best return on investment?

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Every retail outlet is different, and has different drivers that affect how successful it is.

We’ve listed five retail digital signage solutions below, and the circumstances in which they would deliver the best value. We’ve also given size and price indicators to help you assess whether they’re appropriate for you.

1. Window displays

Whether your store is on a street or within a mall, if you have windows and a decent level of footfall passing them, it’s likely that a digital signage display in your window will help you market your offering more effectively.

In the 10-20 seconds it takes someone to walk past your store window, you can display two or three different messages related to products or promotions, giving you much more opportunity to catch a passer-by’s attention.

Furthermore, unlike traditional printed signage, digital signage gives you an almost unlimited amount of promotional space, so you can create and show as much content as you like. That same passer-by could see two or three additional promotional messages every time they walk past your store.

Window displays are particularly useful if you have a small window space – as they will help you to make the most of what you have.

If your store is in a less than prime position (for example set back from a main thoroughfare or overshadowed by trees), or in a busy retail district, the vibrance of high bright digital window displays will attract attention to your store.

If your window display is regularly in full sun, it will need a high bright screen with a high candela per square metre (cd/m²). This will be more expensive to purchase and will cost more in energy to run than a standard high bright screen.

Size: Small-Medium

Purchase cost: ££-£££

Ongoing costs (energy, maintenance): £££

Retail Digital Signage | Picture of JD's shop front.


2. LCD/LED screens

The larger the retail space you have, the more distractions there are for the consumer. Screens showing product or promotion-related messages can direct your customers’ attention to your most profitable products and promotions.

Displays showing slick content within your store will change the look and feel of it, giving it the appearance of being more modern and/or making it feel like a more premium shopping environment. Instore displays can also educate customers about products they may want to purchase and/or inspire them to try new things.

There are various different formats and types of display. LCD screens tend to be cheaper to purchase but aren’t as vibrant as LED screens which have better colour contrast and are brighter. LED screens also tend to be more energy-efficient.

It is possible to use standard TV screens – which are cheaper to purchase – rather than digital signage screens. However, they aren’t designed for ongoing commercial use, so they aren’t as energy-efficient and are unlikely to last long if used for long periods of time. Domestic TV screens will also have inactivity shut-down settings to override.

Size: Small-Medium

Purchase cost: £-££ (NB: depends on the size and screen type)

Ongoing costs (energy, maintenance): £


3. Shelf-Edge Display

Large-scale displays can be invaluable, but perhaps the most crucial thing is to catch customers’ attention at the point when they have a clear intent to buy and are browsing the shelves.

Shelf-edge displays are relatively new to the UK but are catching on fast for their ability to draw attention to specific products and promotions.

They are slim-line displays and are essentially an upgraded version of a standard price label holder. They can show animation and video and are controlled digitally so they remove the need to adjust prices manually.

Like a normal screen, they are vibrant and are commonly used on freestanding displays, aisles and gondola ends to draw attention to specific products or promotions.

They can be synchronised together, so a promotional video – e.g. a meal deal, or buy two get third free – can follow a customer down an aisle, making it hard to ignore.

The technology can be integrated with EPOS systems to instantly update the display on any given shelf.

Size: Micro

Purchase cost: £-££ (NB: depends on how many are required to create a full display)

Ongoing costs (energy, maintenance): £

Retail Digital Signage | Picture of a shop floor.


4. Digital Menu Board Signage

In the same way, slick content on a screen can be used to create a premium look and feel for durable consumer goods, it can do the same for products on a food counter.

Unlike static displays, your only restriction when it comes to content on a digital menu board is how much budget/resource you have to create it, and the length of time a customer is likely to want to look at the menu.

This gives you lots of opportunities to highlight information, products, and promotions. If you have more than one screen this will give you more opportunities to show different types of information, increasing the length of time customers are likely to spend looking at your displays.

Most digital menu boards are used to display a combination of:

  • product price-lists
  • attractive visuals/videos of key products
  • promotions (e.g. ‘meal deals’, student/family offers)
  • calorie/nutritional/allergy information
  • new product launch details
  • ingredient quality information
  • recipe authenticity details
  • food/drink pre-ordering or delivery services
  • corporate social responsibility initiative details

If you have a large or complex menu, you can display it more efficiently, with animation used to guide your customer through the selection process.

A key benefit of having digital, rather than static, menu displays is the ability to adjust your menu. If you are using content management software, this can be done very quickly, across multiple outlets/locations simply by adjusting your digital content and publishing it.

There are a variety of different formats and sizes of digital menu board enclosures and mounts, so you can position them almost anywhere, depending on the space you have available. They can be hanging (i.e. over the top of the food counter), wall-mounted, or freestanding within an enclosure.

Should you wish, menu board displays can be made interactive and housed within a kiosk, offering your customers a self-service experience which (when combined with restaurant management software) will inevitably reduce your labour costs and improve operational efficiency.

Size: Small-Medium

Purchase cost: £-££

Ongoing costs (energy, maintenance): £

NEC M Series digital signage used in a cafe as a menu board

5. Large format

Although large format displays aren’t cheap to purchase, they create an undeniable ‘wow-factor’ that changes the aesthetic of retail space.

Because of their size, they create a focal point that customers can see throughout the store. The content that appears on them shapes the customers’ understanding of what the store offers and what sort of business it is.

They are also an incredibly effective way to draw attention to specific products or promotions.

There are two types of large format displays, video walls and LED walls.

Video walls are a collection of screens positioned together to create the illusion of a single, large screen. They are significantly cheaper than LED walls, but are less energy efficient (costing more in energy bills), and are harder to maintain.  If one screen fails, your whole display becomes a bit of an embarrassment.

LED walls have a much longer lifespan than video walls. They are made up of lots of small tiles containing LEDs rather than having screens. As such, they are easy to maintain. Most people won’t notice if a single LED stops working and, should an LED wall panel become faulty, it can simply be lifted out of the display and replaced with another, with no colour calibration needed.

LED walls don’t have screen bezels so they are flexible and can be positioned where and how you live, to fit in with the space you have. They also offer a continuous display that can be seen with equal clarity from close up and far away, so all customers can see the same messages no matter what their proximity to the screen.

Size: Large

Purchase cost: ££-£££ (NB: depends on display size and type)

Ongoing costs (energy, maintenance): ££-£££

Retail Digital Signage | Digital signage screen in a retail store


Getting a good return on investment

As we’ve said, there are many types of retail digital signage solutions available that can help you to solve different problems. But the key to success doesn’t just lie with getting the right type of screen in the right place.

Great digital signage with poor quality content is unlikely to deliver a good return on investment. In fact, if it looks cheap it may do more harm than good to your business, devaluing your brand.

Ideally, you should get your content created by digital signage content specialists, as they will have a better understanding of the technical specifications you need for the displays you have, and of location-specific requirements (e.g. the font sizes needed for different viewing distances).

If you’re creating a lot of content and your budget doesn’t stretch far enough to get all of your content produced professionally, you should at least make sure that your most important messages are presented well. These are what your customers are most likely to remember about your business.

Some digital signage content specialists – like our own team – offer a consultancy service to give guidance to more inexperienced in-house graphic designers on some of the key technical aspects, which may be a way of stretching your content creation budget further. Or you could check out our ‘Ultimate guide to digital signage content creation for tips.


If you’re interested in using retail digital signage solutions for your business, get in touch with us and our team will give you advice specific to your business. Just give us a call on 0161 222 0706 or fill in the form below. 

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