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Will Digital Screens Replace In Store Retail Staff?

We look at the role of digital screens in retail and whether your best employees might soon be plugged into a power outlet and HDMI.

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You probably remember your first glimpse of what a future retail scenario would look like. It was in the movie Minority Report and it involved weird, robotic voices that picked out clothes for you (based on a scan of your eyeball, naturally). 

While that does seem to err on the wrong side of personal privacy laws, perhaps there is some logic behind the cinematic vision of what in store experiences might look like in 2054.

Digital screens and stores

As we can testify, based on our awesome clients using digital screens to bring in store brands to life, screens are becoming a huge part of the in store experience. 

A big part of this is the ease at which they can be installed. Previously, TV screens were expensive, with digital signage software packages difficult to set up without the aid of an IT superhero. With systems like ScreenCloud Signage, it’s easier than ever to set up digital signage, get great content loaded onto screens and be able to adapt and change with the evolving ecosystem of the store.

Screens are also cheap and for little more than the cost of a regular consumer-grade TV, plus a media player like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Chromecast with Google TV, anyone from an independent store to huge franchise, can create their own digital signage system. Although, if you’re a larger business that prefers a more reliable device that can handle more demanding digital signage content, then maybe a commercial grade device like our ScreenCloud OS device, the Station P1 Pro, will suit your needs better.

Affordable content and advertising streams

As well as being great for customer experience, simple and affordable digital signage systems allows store owners to collaborate with brands on their own terms. Generating revenue from screen ads can be done through an app like Bidstack, helping to cover the cost of a technology facelift and make the store more income without having to employ an advertising middleman. 

The digital screen’s curriculum vitae

Once installed, the digital screen is a versatile being. Firstly, there’s the scope of what ‘digital screen’ or ‘digital signage’ covers. From single screens, to multi-screen video walls, tablets, iPads and even iPhones. Then there’s the multiple ways brands are using them in stores.

Payment processing - In retail environments, brands such as Apple have been using iPads for years to allow customers to make purchases from anywhere in the store. Similarly, iPads and tablets are a relatively cheap and simple way to set up product directories and price check points that customers can navigate on their own. 

Self-service - Brands such as Pizza Hut and McDonalds have introduced self-service checkouts where orders can be placed without so much as a word. As well as being a bit of a novelty experience, this allows customers to take charge of their experience by browsing items and building their meal or shopping basket from scratch. It also allows a stronger visual representation of products, particularly food items, that a paper menu alone wouldn’t be able to replicate. 

“Picture this” product displays - we like seeing physical products, it’s why so many consumers still choose to shop in physical stores over online, but we like to see them in action even more. Screens help create this ‘out-of-store’ experience; showcasing GoPros in the Alps, bathing suits on the beach and turkeys glistening in the oven - all through videos and images shown on screen. 

Information points - a modern conundrum: why is there never a sales assistant around when you need one? Understaffed stores can make digital screens do the job of three or four people as they help visitors get to the areas or products they need. Screens are intuitive to us. If you don’t believe me, place a non-touch screen in a store and watch how many people walk up and try to swipe the surface! This makes digital screens your number one candidate for rich information points that aren’t on the payroll. 

Will digital screens replace in store customer service staff?

Like any adoption of new technology, there are likely to be positions made redundant by sophisticated in-store digital signage. Saying that, the power of face-to-face communication, brand advocacy and our craving to ‘speak to a real person’ will always be innately human. 

The best uses of in-store digital screens that we’ve seen are the ones led by people. The retailers who leverage tablets and iPads as way to engage more with the shopper. The digital screens that fill in the gaps where a store needs staff but perhaps doesn’t have the capacity or budget. The screens that direct shoppers to different departments in place of static signs which date quickly. Even interactivity between the staff and the screen to assist the sale. Check out a video of one of our customers explaining this.

We will see a rise in the adoption of digital screens in the next few years and cloud-based digital signage companies like ourselves will do everything we can to make this as easy as possible. But when it comes to a smile and a firm handshake on your way out of the door - we’ll leave that to the real people. 

For help getting started with a digital screen powered by simple digital signage software check out our free trial at

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