Rulers
January 15, 2020

How to Measure the Success of Your Digital Signage Pilot Program

Good ideas are like good intentions: there’s no guarantee that pursuing them will lead to great reward. Ideas have to earn their realization. That hard work begins as soon as the eureka moment has passed. Ideas must be tested, modeled, evaluated, and—not infrequently—sent back to the drawing board in search of that elusive desired result.

Retailers understand better than most that innovation for innovation’s sake is a luxury they can often ill afford. Luckily, proof of concept and pilot programs give retailers the approach they need to assess whether any given idea, however bright, will help them achieve a specific business outcome.

Retail video display systems are a powerful, flexible tool that can have a positive impact on your business’ bottom line. This type of digital signage allows you to target your already-engaged customers with tailored messaging optimized to lift sales, promote special offers, grow brand loyalty (and favorability), and more.

All that technological sophistication does not come without a price. Effective deployment of retail video display systems across an entire retail enterprise requires significant investment. These investments can quickly turn into over-investments, which, in turn, can strain your organization and limit your ability to allocate resources where they are most needed.  

By starting small with a digital signage pilot program, however, retailers can prepare to scale—and reach new heights in terms of revenue, customer satisfaction, and employee utilization. But you don’t scale a program that isn’t working. How do you know if a program is working or not? You measure it.

What You Should Measure

On too many occasions, organizations exit a pilot only to discover that no stakeholder can confidently state whether the program was successful or not. The fault most often lies in not carefully defining success at the outset, and that typically comes from a failure to reconcile differing agendas—and success measures—between the leadership team and those executing the program.

Imagine this scenario: a fashion retailer that operates 250 stores within a tri-state area decides to pilot a digital signage program. The goal is to determine whether these retail video display systems can boost sales of promoted products by 15%. Leadership decides to pilot this program at 25 locations (representing 10 percent of their fleet). Already, the organization has set a clearly defined quantitative goal—boost sales by 15%. Multiple objectives may contribute to this goal, but those objectives have been line-itemed and bucketed appropriately.

Keeping the goals quantitative—at least for the pilot program—is important, because it’s hard to argue against numbers. That’s not to say that qualitative results aren’t important. Often qualitative results can offer the “whys” behind the data you’re seeing in your quantitative results. But the lack of numerical data can often leave qualitative results open to interpretation. This makes it easy to write off the successes of the program.

In a retail context, digital signage objectives tend to fall into one of six primary buckets:

  1. Brand storytelling. How can digital signage help your business forge more meaningful connections with its customers?
  2. Increased sales. How can digital signage help increase sales of promoted products and acquire new customers?
  3. Guest experience. How can digital signage create connected experiences that lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction?
  4. Data collection. How can digital signage help you learn more about your customers’ behaviors, desires, and pain points?
  5. Advertising revenue. How can you open new revenue streams by selling advertising and sponsorships on your digital signage solution?
  6. Employee communication. How can you use digital signage to support your team members’ professional development and increase their job performance?

As a retailer, these are your digital signage touchstones. Whenever a question arises about the purpose of your pilot program, return to the one that is most relevant to that initiative.

How You Should Be Measuring

Choosing a metric can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a pilot program. Consider the sales lift measurement options available to our grocery store:

  • Increases in average basket size.
  • Increases in sales of specific promoted products.
  • Increases in percentage of transactions per customer.
  • Increases in purchase frequency.
  • Increases in gross revenues.

Let’s say our fashion retailer elects to measure its pilot program’s success by average purchase size. Even here, decisions have to be made. How will comparable sales data be defined, captured, and stored for analysis? Does it make more sense to examine historical performance month-over-month (or year-over-year)? Or does it make more sense to measure a test group—those stores with digital signage—against a control group—those without?

Each retailer will answer these questions differently. The key is to make sure they are being asked and seriously considered during the pilot program planning phase.

Finally, retailers implementing a digital signage pilot program need to beware of the “all your eggs in one basket” syndrome. Quantitative data tells only half of the story of a program’s success. Yes, you need hard data: how many shoppers interacted with the messaging and added an item to their shopping carts, for example. But you also need qualitative research to achieve an understanding of the experiential aspect of the digital signage solution you are testing.

For example, how do shoppers explain their reasons for choosing whether or not to interact with the retail video display systems? If they could improve the screens content or placement, how might they? Surveys, questionnaires, even traditional focus group-style interviews: all these qualitative tools and more are available to retailers. Don’t neglect to leverage these instruments to generate the insights necessary for setting a course toward scaling your pilot program.

Contemplating a digital signage pilot program? Already running one? Completed one and now looking to transition to a scaled digital signage program? Contact us today for more insights into how to get the most value out of your digital signage program.