Digital store-front displays in retail – moving on from traditional signage

In the cities of the future – check out any sci-fi epic for proof – retail storefronts have long since moved beyond the static mannequins and digital TVs of our own era. If the movies are anything to go by, shoppers of the next century and beyond will be treated to colourful, semitransparent AR displays, bright and seamless digital projections of products in motion that aim to delight and attract the attention of the generations of that distant age to come.

Retailers of the present would be well-advised to start moving in this direction, and they’d better do it quickly. Sustainability-conscious consumers are already tut-tutting the wasteful practice of setting up store displays for short-term promotions, only to trash them once the time is up. Window displays have been resorting to decals affixed to the glass for quite some time already, while setting digital TVs against glass storefronts is likewise nothing new – and both of these solutions have the added disadvantage of blocking the view of the products in store to prospective buyers passing by. Why have a window at all if no one can see through it?

Kim Hoang of Sydney-based Pop up Digital has a new concept that uses the power of advanced BenQ projectors to create bold, eye-catching digital displays on window glass prepared with a proprietary clear film – eliminating the need for a screen while preserving the transparency of the storefront window, keeping the interior fit-out fully visible.

“We think this is probably the new standard in retail display,” says Hoang, whose fresh solution was recently proved in a stunning roll-out for Sass & Bide that projected the brand’s fashions and runway footage onto the street-facing windows of its Oxford Street flagship. “Typically you use a projector on a white wall, or a wall on just one side. We’ve developed a film that uses nanoparticles to absorb the light from the projector and refract it through to the other side. This allows you to use the projector to display any digital content onto your store window, visible from outside the store.”

Central to the solution is BenQ Smart Projector, which is powerful enough to display 1080p Full HD content in brilliant clarity, while remaining sufficiently compact so as not to intrude on a store’s fit-out. At 3600 lumens, the projected light is capable of rendering sharp, bright and crystal-clear digital video on any sheet of glass treated with film. While high resolution display files are often quite data heavy – making transferring them through physical devices cumbersome, especially when the projector is mounted on the ceiling – the Smart Projector lets you access files from your preferred cloud storage like Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive and control them via a built-in account management system (AMS).

“When you decide to walk out the next retail concept,” explains Hoang, “you just upload the new content. You never need to print again, like ’50 per cent off for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day’, or whatever. This is digital content that you upload to the cloud and press play.”

Hoang sees multiple applications for BenQ Smart Projectors, from large-scale applications across window faces to projections on suspended glass displays within stores, giving shoppers a closer look at products without resorting to the usual LCD TV screens.

“You can go as big as you want,” says Hoang. “We’re working with Adidas at the moment to trial a few different solutions. One of the scenarios that we can do is to link multiple projectors and blend it into one image. So in terms of scale, unlike TV, we’re not restricted.”

Pop up Digital’s solution – along with similar applications of the BenQ technology – is giving small and medium retail businesses an eye-catching alternative to traditional digital or analogue signage. Not only does this help businesses to utilise their glass space, it also opens up the range of content retailers can use to attract the eyes of passers-by.

“If you look out there, every retailer has a social media account, they’ve got a YouTube account, they’ve got a TikTok account,” observes Hoang. “So, all that content that they’re creating, they’re not putting in their stores. Why not? You’ve already spent all this money creating all this content. The only problem is that they don’t have a platform to deliver that content. You can’t really put a TikTok video on a TV on your window, it really doesn’t have any ‘wow’ factor. But if you’ve got it streaming on your store window two metres wide, that’s going to stop people in their tracks.”

To enquire about BenQ Smart Projectors, click through to the Smart Projector website.