Welcome to Part II of our series on custom POP displays with digital media players. The question we are trying to answer is whether or not digital media players are worth the investment. In Part I of our series, we discussed the importance of assessing the likelihood that shoppers would take the initiative and time to watch the video content. We noted that the likelihood of shopper engagement is highly dependent on the type of video application. We argued, for example, that a shopper would be much more likely to watch a video introducing a new consumer electronics product than watching a Coca-Cola video player mounted to a shelf in the aisle of a grocery store. And, we provided lots of examples of good applications for digital media players at the point of sale. Today we’ll cover a number of key factors to consider in selecting the right digital media player and ensuring it gives your display the biggest bang for the buck.
● Power– One of the most critical factors to consider early in the decision process is will you have access to AC power, or in other words, will there be a place to plug it in? This is an important question because if you know you have guaranteed access to electrical outlets it will improve your chances of success and will be cheaper than alternative solutions. If you are doing a chain-wide rollout, before you invest in incorporating a digital media player into your POP display, it is worth trying to get a commitment from the retailer to ensure you will have access to power. Not knowing if you will have access to power and being unsure about the placement of your display in the stores is like rolling the dice with your investment dollars.
However, if you know you won’t have access to electrical outlets to secure AC power for your digital media players, all is not lost. You can also go with Option B which is to use battery powered digital media players. Battery powered digital media players can be very effective, but the battery packs add to the cost of your display and require maintenance (i.e., recharging). You will need to make sure that store personnel are trained on how to recharge the batteries in your battery pack. Alternatively, you can arrange for one of your sales reps or another company employee to make the rounds to the stores to recharge the batteries. Keep in mind that store associates, even diligent ones, are likely to care less about maintaining your display than you do.
Two of the more common battery packs we use to power digital media players are 8 D-Cell battery packs and 16 D-Cell battery packs. Battery life is closely correlated with size of the digital media player- the smaller the screen, the longer the battery life. For example, a 16 D-Cell battery pack powering a 7” digital media player can play about 7,000 30-second spots before needing recharging.
In designing your display, remember to create a space to hide the battery pack and be sure to make it easily accessible so it can be removed for recharging.
● Activation Options– There are generally 3 options to consider for activating your video:
1) Auto Play– With this option the video will automatically start playing when the video player is powered on. This option is most frequently accompanied by a continuous looping video.
2) Motion Detection– Built-in motion detectors are generally very affordable, and this is a great option to use with battery-powered video players. The video is activated when someone walks by the display. It can be programmed to play 1 video loop or to shut off after a specified time like 30 seconds.
3) Push Button Activation– This option conserves the most battery life because the video only plays when a shopper pushes the PLAY button. The advantage is it only plays the video when an interested and engaged shopper takes the initiative to push the button, and it eliminates play time that occurs when uninterested shoppers pass by the display with no intention of watching the video. The disadvantage is you may lose out on an opportunity to capture the attention of a potential impulse buyer.
For options 2 and 3 above, you will need to decide if you want the screen to remain dark when the video is not playing or if you want to have an image on a lighted screen. The dark screen option like the one shown on the front-end merchandiser we made below can conserve battery life, but the lighted screen is more likely to capture shopper attention.
● Frame Type, Screen Size, and Player Capabilities– Selecting the right type of digital media player depends on a number of choices:
1) Frame Type-The two types of digital media players are open frame and closed frame. Open frame players are essentially frameless and are designed to be embedded in a panel. Below is a picture of an open frame screen by itself, and then it is shown embedded in one of the displays we built for a customer introducing a new nozzle product.
It’s also possible to use an open frame screen and build your own frame like we did with the Sengled and Bloom Farms counter displays shown below.
Closed frame video players come with a frame. They can be mounted on a wall or any surface rather than be embedded, or they can be used on many displays in the same way that we incorporated it into the footwear display below.
Shelf edge LCD videos are another example of closed frame video players that are increasing in popularity.
2) Screen Size– There are a wide range of choices in screen size, and different manufactures may offer different sizes. The most common sizes we use are 7”, 10.1”, 11.6”, 13.3”, 15.6”, 18.5”, and 21.5”. There are also larger sizes available, but we tend to use those less because they are relatively more expensive. These larger sizes include 23.8”, 27” x 32”, 43” and 50”. Be sure to check the resolution of the screens. Many of the smaller screens have 720P video resolution, while some of the larger screens offer 1080P and full HD capability.
3) Player Capabilities– The capabilities of digital media players vary widely so it is important to be intentional about the type of player you need to achieve your merchandising objectives. The cheapest and easiest to implement are players that have the capability to play continuous looping videos. Touchscreens provide a higher level of functionality than a continuous looping media player and are therefore more expensive. The advantage of a touchscreen is it increases shopper engagement, gives the shopper more control over the content, and allows brands to deliver more organized and specific content to shoppers based on their areas of interest. Touchscreens can be either surface capacitive touch or projected capacitive touch. Projected capacitive touchscreens are very precise and extremely reactive. They are typically found on smaller devices like mobile phones or iPads. Below is an example of a mall kiosk we made for Club Nirvana that included multiple large touchscreens to enable shoppers to explore products.
● Content Management– Content management is an important consideration when putting together your plan to utilize digital media players at the point of sale. The majority of the digital media players we incorporate in POP displays use SD cards to load the videos on to the players although in most cases the videos can also be loaded via a USB stick. Changing the video requires physically changing the SD card which can be resource intensive across a large number of stores. An 8GB SD card is usually sufficient to store the video content used for instore videos, but sometimes we will use 32GB SD cards like the one shown below or cards with other amounts of memory.
Some of the more high-tech and more expensive video players are Wi-Fi/Ethernet- enabled, many of which are Android-based. These players are capable of working with remote management software which enables operators to create, manage, and distribute video content to any screen at any time from anywhere. What is cool about this capability is it is easy to change the content on the fly as well as customize the content by geography or time of day in an effort to tailor product offerings to meet specific customer needs.
● Other Options to Consider– If you don’t have the budget or are worried about executing a POP display program that incorporates a digital media player, there are alternatives. The most common alternative we are seeing is to incorporate a QR code within the graphics of a POP display. This enables interested shoppers to scan the QR code and watch the video on their phone. QR codes are gaining popularity so this option could be a cheaper alternative relative to a digital media player, but it does require more work on the part of the shopper.
If you don’t want to incorporate a QR code, you can consider telling your story with eye-catching, good old-fashion graphics.
In summary, there are many considerations that need to be evaluated in designing and executing an effective point-of-sale digital media program, but when done right, the likelihood of converting shoppers to customers is high relative to more traditional POP displays.
Jim Hollen is the owner and President of RICH LTD. (www.richltd.com), a 35+ year-old California-based point-of-purchase display, retail store fixture, and merchandising solutions firm which has been named among the Top 50 U.S. POP display companies for 9 consecutive years. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and graduate of Stanford Business School, Jim has served more than 3000 brands and retailers over more than 20 years and has authored nearly 500 blogs and e-Books on a wide range of topics related to POP displays, store fixtures, and retail merchandising.
Jim has been to China more than 50 times and has worked directly with more than 30 factories in Asia across a broad range of material categories, including metal, wood, acrylic, injection molded and vacuum formed plastic, corrugated, glass, LED lighting, digital media player, and more. He also oversees RICH LTD.’s domestic manufacturing operation and has experience manufacturing, sourcing, and importing from numerous Asian countries as well as Vietnam and Mexico.
His experience working with brands and retailers spans more than 25 industries such as food and beverage, apparel, consumer electronics, cosmetics/beauty, sporting goods, automotive, pet, gifts and souvenirs, toys, wine and spirits, home improvement, jewelry, eyewear, footwear, consumer products, mass market retail, specialty retail, convenience stores, and numerous other product/retailer categories.