Abdulnassir Ali, the Sales Manager for Visual Instruments and Professional Displays at Epson Middle East, speaks about the digital signage industry in the region
What do you see as some of the key trends right now in the digital signage/interactive experiences market?
With the impact of the pandemic, organisations around the globe have changed the ways they work, interact, and do business. The signage industry, like many others, had to advance and change its strategy to adapt to the new normal and meet customer demands. A recent Epson study ‘The Experiential Future’ showed that experiential and immersive experiences could drive retail growth in the UAE.
In addition, 92% of respondents said they would change their shopping behaviour if more shopping destinations had an experiential element. There is a great opportunity for in-store businesses to harness the power of experientialism to drive growth and attract new customers – from projection mapping, holograms to gesture control, motion, and facial tracking.
One of the key trends we have witnessed is how retail brands are successfully merging in-store and online activities. For instance, a chain of music shops uses the GoInStore solution to demo instruments, and a high-end car dealer uses it to provide guided tours of stock. For better experiences, equip your shop floor staff with a pair of Epson Moverio smart glasses to transmit what they see back to online customers, using an audio link to guide the sale.
How are digital signage products being used these days?
Even prior to the pandemic, the world was headed towards digitisation in almost every industry from healthcare, marketing, and even retail. The need for digitisation has become essential and industries need to incorporate digital aspects for business continuity. In the Middle East region, we have seen a strong use of digital signage for the F&B sector with restaurants using QR codes and digital menus.
While a tech-led approach to signage is not for every business, with the pandemic, we have seen many sectors adapting to meet social distancing practices set in line with government guidelines. For instance, the hospitality sector is looking at adopting digital signages within their premises to safely guide guests to their seat/tables. Creating engaging signage within stores is a great way to connect with customers. Epson’s reliable and versatile installation projectors help bring your visual merchandising to life – enabling you to project onto walls, ceilings or floors.
The options with digital signage are endless, making it a great opportunity for businesses to grow their reach. Epson’s LightScene EV-100 laser projectors help with experiential retail concepts offering truly immersive displays – suited for digital art, commercial signage and décor applications.
What is changing about the way customers interact with technology?
Technology has always been a driving force within many sectors, especially within retail, and 92% of customers in the UAE would increase spending if brands used immersive experiences, as per the Epson study ‘The Experiential Future’.
Customers in the UAE have always been open to experiential and immersive technologies and around a quarter claimed they would shop in a new store if it offered an experiential element, as per the study. Moreover, with the onset of the pandemic, customers have become more tech-savvy and are embracing the shift to automated stores and frictionless checkout experiences.
How can retailers use these technologies to guide the customer journey?
Technology plays an integral role in almost every aspect of our lives, whether personal or professional, changing the way we work, learn, and communicate. Customers in our region have always been open to new technology, especially when the benefits are vast. Retailer innovations should be to enhance the shopping experience, creating a smooth and easy customer experience. With the right technology, retailers can reduce checkout queues with a wireless tablet and portable receipt printer or use real-time analytics to make smart decisions on stock control, offers and displays.
Epson’s solutions help retailers to deliver and quality signage such as POS, banners, posters, displays, graphics, and vehicle wraps with both higher efficiency and flexibility. From projection mapping and holograms to gesture control, motion and facial tracking, retailers can use immersive technology to strengthen the customer and brand relationship.
What role will contactless technology play?
Technology has undoubtedly been a major drive for industries to transform and innovate, creating unique experiences and interactions for businesses and customers alike. 2020 introduced many business challenges with country lockdowns and social distancing practices, and it was important for organisations to adapt. Offices have implemented social distancing practices from distanced desks to circles on floors.
Middle East organisations that adopt innovative technology now can enable the socially distanced office to meet government guidelines and to maintain business continuity. Investments in innovative technologies can also lower total cost of ownership and deliver new business models.
For the retail sector, reduced touchpoints and contactless solutions have become the new norm. Consumers are looking to shop with more convenience and safety, along with being part of an immersive in-store experience. Retailers are looking to invest in contactless platforms such as multiple portable receipt printers or user-friendly mobile apps – helping scan items, pay in-app, and collect them at the counter.
As a whole, the Middle East market is posting strong demand for contactless technology solutions that can support the current need for physical distancing, as well as lower intervention, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.
In terms of signage and digital signage which products and solutions are your focus areas this year?
In Q1 2021, Epson launched several new printing solutions to support businesses and meet organisational demands in the Middle East region.
Epson will also be launching its first UV LED flatbed signage printer in the Middle East, which allows printing on any type of service, despite the size, thickness, or weight – a perfect option for sign makers looking to expand their offering and produce high quality UV signage.
The SureColor SC-V7000 includes Epson’s Micro Piezo printhead with ten newly developed original inks, for accurate color reproduction for spot and corporate colors. Further features include an ionizer, registration pins, high speed and print size, 4 multi zone vacuum system, and a UV flatbed controller. The SureColor SC-V7000 builds on the success of Epson’s award-winning range of SureColor S Series signage printers, delivering high quality, fast and reliable results on a variety of different media.
Epson has also launched new range of products, such as resin ink solutions such as Epson’s SureColor SC-R5010 Series, offering print service providers and creative design agencies to produce a wide range of signage in a more sustainable way, without compromising on the results. For a larger ink capacity, Epson offers the SureColor SC-R5010L.
For restricted workspaces, Epson’s SureColor SC-T3100M and SC-T5100M 3-in-1 printers, fit the needs of technical drawing, plotting CAD, GIS maps, and printing a range of assets, especially for the retail and hospitality sectors. The compact yet reliable 24-inch SC-T3100M and 36-inch SC-T5100M plotters are designed to be dust free as standard – print quality and internal components are protected, which makes it the ideal solution for environments such as construction site offices and high footfall areas. The series also provides color stability and water resistance – ideal for poster production for damp environments such as shop windows.
Epson is also continuously expanding its laser projector line with six new projectors for retailers, hospitality organisations, museums, and visitor attractions to differentiate customer experiences with more impactful signage and experiential immersive displays.
The EB-805F is a bright and scalable ultra-short-throw display solution with Full HD 1080p image quality that can scale up to 130 inches onto ultra-wide surfaces. The LightScene EV-100 is a 2,000-lumen WXGA accent lighting projector, in white. The low visual noise design can add movement and life to retail displays, galleries, and museums.