Every retailer knows shelf signs are important selling tools. These are silent salesmen, influencing shoppers to make purchases while they’re standing in the aisles, considering the products. When it comes to offering a return on investment, shelf edge digital signage brings a host of elements.

The most obvious is the ability to instantly react to changes such as specials and stock levels as well as avoiding pricing errors. There is also the saving on operational costs like printing and the time and resources required to change out paper-based signs.

When you consider that a large store will change inventory and promotions for thousands of items every week, the case for digital signage on the shelf edge is obvious. But there is also a more nuanced advantage to consider, that of enhanced customer engagement.

According to the 2013 POPAI Shopper Engagement Study, 76 per cent of shoppers make buying decisions after entering the store. The shelf edge represents the critical decision making moment and is vital in terms of sending the right message that turns browsers into customers.

The edge of the shelf is prime real estate and the space available is minimal and precious. Digital signage offers the ability to let part of the display cycle through relevant information such as technical specifications, warranties, nutritional information, bundle deals, customer ratings, QR codes and so on.

Furthermore, the shelf edge screens themselves are also evolving. The cost of these displays is falling along with power draw, while resolution is improving. This transformation opens up whole new possibilities for rich product content to be integrated into the signs. This can include anything from serving suggestions for food items, through to short video demonstrations as just two examples.

With all this in mind it’s clear that with the right tools it’s possible to transform and manage every aspect of retail shelf edge signs and labelling. But the key phrase there is ‘with the right tools’. The signs themselves are the first step – and will deliver on all the benefits laid out in the beginning.

That in itself offers a clear ROI for shelf edge digital signage, but to truly transform that crucial decision making process, the system needs to be connected to other systems within the business. As an example, product ratings may need to be pulled from a customer management application, videos from a content management system and inventory from a stock management database. When you can connect these systems and deliver them to the customer in a dynamic and intuitive way, right at the point they are making their choice, that’s when a retailer gets a real competitive advantage.