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Sharp/NEC looks ahead to Digital Signage in 2021

Digital signage market in 2021

By Michael Ferrer, Sharp NEC Display Solutions

The main goal for digital signage has always been to effectively share a message. This will be even more true in 2021 as we continue to deal with the challenges of the pandemic and living in a post-COVID world.

What we found in 2020 was that businesses needed a way to effectively communicate with customers. They had to pivot – and fast. From big box retailers displaying which cleaning supplies and household products were sold out for the day to restaurants alerting customers when their to-go order was ready, the ability to communicate in real-time became even more critical. But many businesses just weren’t equipped with the technology to implement digital messaging – many resorted to dry erase boards pulled out of the breakroom to communicate with customers. And while it worked in the middle of chaos, a low-tech option is not ideal for an effective customer experience.

CX has always been central to business success, but the COVID-19 pandemic and ever-evolving safety regulations have drastically changed what “customer experience” means. Digital signage provides businesses with the opportunity to capitalize on the customer experience, pandemic or not.

For example, rather than having frustrated customers standing in a queue outside a retail establishment or waiting in the lobby for their turn to see the doctor, digital signage helps decrease perceived wait time. Using digital displays, businesses can loop video content, such as promotions, brand assets or even alerts, keeping customers engaged and don’t feel like they are waiting forever.

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In 2021, we will begin to see digital signage act as a virtual concierge of sorts. Businesses will be able to use digital signage to communicate with a customer in lieu of unnecessary face-to-face interaction with an associate. Digital signage will also continue to be a way to educate and inform. As guidance from agencies like the CDC continues to change, the ability for businesses to educate their customers in real-time with important alerts will continue to be crucial in creating a good experience. For example, by integrating technologies with digital displays in an airport or other public transportation setting, monitors or video walls can display COVID-related messaging but switch to flight information as a traveler approaches. In a corporate environment, presentation systems can be programmed to turn on and prioritize the presenter’s laptop when someone enters a conference room.

Ideally, businesses should look for cost-effective digital displays that are dynamic and flexible to handle a multitude of functions. As customers are able to enter establishments again, displaying scheduled product promotions for specific items, providing wayfinding and entertaining customers with interactive music and video are just a few of the ways digital signage solutions are an investment that pivots with your business.

Michael Ferrer is National Manager, Solutions Sales and Operations for Sharp NEC Display Solutions. Sharp NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc. is the leading global provider of professional and commercial visual technology and digital signage solutions, owned jointly by Sharp Electronics Corporation and NEC Corporation. Serving a wide variety of markets, the organization’s expertise spans education, digital signage, graphics, healthcare, restaurants, retail, enterprise, entertainment, transportation, and more. For additional information, visit


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