How COVID-19 has forced the digital signage industry to evolve
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on every aspect of our lives. Every single one of us. In the digital signage sector, that impact is one that fell like a sledgehammer at the end of March but in many ways catalysed an evolution which had been brewing beneath the surface for quite some time.
The seeds of change were sown before the UK-wide lockdown, as supply chain problems were felt from the very beginning of the year due to halted production in China.
Many signage companies use parts that are shipped either directly or indirectly from China and those companies were either forced to delay production and shipment or search out other supply sources that were closer to home. As the virus spread west, however, things got even more dire.
Digital signage during lockdown
Whilst manufacturing started to recover as the virus eased off in China, lockdown measures began to be imposed across Europe and almost everything shut down practically overnight.
This resulted in a dramatic drop in demand for the digital signage sector and this drop in demand is still being felt now, even after the UK has started easing restrictions.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Because there has been a definite surge in demand post-lockdown as companies have recognised the benefits of using digital signage to help them get back on their feet.
The impact on the industry overall, however, is difficult to ignore. Indeed, back in January, it was predicted that the sector would grow at a CAGR of 8.1% between 2019 and 2020. By June, that estimate had shrunk to a 4.3% growth between 2020 and 2027.
Evolve or die
The above paragraphs might read like a ‘worst-case scenario’ for the industry and they are. There’s a great deal of room in which the sector could bounce back and is indeed already bouncing back. As a flexible industry, the digital signage sector has evolved in several ways as a direct result of the pandemic.
Most obviously, there has been a significant rise in demand for digital hand sanitiser stations and traffic light or ‘andon’ systems that can be used to direct customer traffic and maintain social distancing. These solutions can be used everywhere from hospitals and retail stores to offices and schools.
There’s also the idea that touchscreens could be a breeding ground for COVID, which means the industry might need to consider investing more heavily in new tech. Facial recognition and voice activation are two areas that could be a major area of growth in the months and years to come, for example.
Marketing has also arguably never been more important and digital signage solutions such as digital information displays and LED video screens were ideal for showing deals and promotions, such as the “Eat out to help out” scheme in August.
Digital signage has also been used throughout the last two months of ‘economic resurgence’ to display social distancing guidelines.
Ultimately, it’s all going to be about the market listening to consumer feedback and demand and realising that the world under COVID-19 has changed and we need to change along with it. It’s only through this innovative approach that we might hope to weather the coronavirus storm.