Interactive Displays Can Increase Brand Loyalty

According to Katie Kolchiek from Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. and writing for Digital Signage Today, it is no surprise to see innovative brands implementing unique elements into their merchandising programmes. Not only does technology offer data collection capabilities, but incorporating entertaining components excites shoppers and encourages discovery. 

There was a time when experiential merchandising displays broke the mould with simple video loops or motion sensors, prompting audio call-to-actions. Building on the groundwork of these features, many of today’s interactive retail displays go even further with original ideas to showcase and demo products.

Merchandising displays with touchscreens

Because the technology is well-established and widely used today, some brands have enhanced merchandising displays with touchscreens to give shoppers a hands-on experience. Uses often include shopping an endless aisle, looking up additional product information or customising merchandise.

A global manufacturer of paints, coatings, and specialty materials, PPG, recognised the benefit of incorporating a touchscreen into its paint chip display when it launched its current ‘Voices of Color’ retail programme.

Customers can use the interactive retail display to:

– Scan paint chips and view the color selections in a variety of environments and placements.
– Discover complementary colour recommendations.
– Email or save favorites that can later be pulled up on a device at home.
– The successful display program continues to help shoppers today at stores nationwide.

When online goes offline

Omnichannel, phygital, call it what you want. The point is, we’re pretty attuned to the process of spreading our shopping experience across a variety of platforms now. And with consumers eager to resume in-store shopping as the pandemic wanes, once-digital brands are ramping up partnerships with traditional brick-and-mortars to reach a larger group of customers.

Displays for digital native brands like Grove, Birchbox and many more are securing shelf space at established retailers, and they’re aiming for impact. Grove’s launch features an exclusive scent only found at Target stores, and Birchbox lets Walgreens shoppers build their own curated beauty box by choosing five samples from an assortment. Countless more have captivated shoppers with pop-up shops, Instagram-worthy spaces and brand experiences.

In an article by Luxe Digital called ‘Retail Renaissance: How Digital Native Brands are Redefining the Store Experience,’ author Florine Eppe Beauloye states, ‘From mobile checkout with digital payment methods to augmented reality applications, interactive displays, voice recognition and social media integration, new technologies are being embraced by retailers to bridge the online and in-store shopping experience and make it as seamless and friction-free as possible.’

As these relationships continue to flourish, watch for more experiential merchandising displays from these brands to capitalise on the customer’s comfort level with interaction and digital channels.

Above and beyond with interactive retail displays

As brands compete to design displays that personalise the consumer experience, sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to capture attention. This can look like fantastic storytelling, employing tech features, or simply going beyond a basic push button or video loop.

GE Lighting did just that with its recent LED+ program to highlight the various capabilities of its specialty bulbs.

The display allows customers to press buttons to create different scenarios. In one demo, pressing and holding the knob plays music through a lightbulb. In another, the demonstration shows a bulb adjusting from daytime to nighttime lighting. The last demo generates a fake lightning storm that causes the power to go out. After the light box goes dark, the lightbulb pops back on to highlight the battery backup feature.

When investing in a display program, consider how to showcase your products to help consumers better understand their features or functions. Along with impactful messaging, demonstrating merchandise in a fresh way not only encourages shopper education, but also helps create a memorable experience.

Future interactive display features

Retail displays continue to evolve, and the future holds exciting technology for brands looking to push the envelope.

While augmented reality is not new, building it into merchandising displays is still in its infancy. In the coming years, though, we’ll likely see more implementation — and a welcome adoption. Thanks to popular apps that use AR like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, a coming generation of shoppers will have no problem pulling out their mobile devices for the in-store technology.

We’re already seeing augmented reality online from big name e-commerce sites that help customers visualise products or furniture in their homes. So don’t be surprised when it starts showing up in stores as helpful avenues to indicate a promotion, emphasise product features, or perform other endless possibilities.

In addition, camera analytics will become an increasing presence on shelves and displays as brands use the service to personalise digital messaging and gain real-time customer data.

Picture a retail display that uses AI to alter its branding and imagery based on the demographics of the customer who approaches.

With video analytics, brands can also pinpoint what merchandise is drawing attention, what messaging is working for different age groups and more. The insight can help brands tailor other aspects of their marketing from traditional advertising to brand ambassador partnerships. Essentially, in-store customers can help provide a wealth of data to brands looking to analyse shopping behaviors.

In general, all retail displays are an important component of a successful marketing plan, calling attention to a brand’s products and building a loyal customer base. Additionally, interactive features that both excite and inform can go even further to set a business apart from its competition. And with interactive retail displays of the future, technology will play a substantial role in providing a personalised and educational experience.

This article appears in Digital Signage Today.

Mimaki Event Highlights Latest Printer Releases

The Mimaki Innovation Days (2-4 June 2021) introduced the market to Mimaki’s recent product releases, the JFX550, JFX600 and SUJV-160.

The JFX600-2513 and the JFX550-2513 build on the success of the JFX500-2131 large format UV inkjet printer, launched in 2012. The range of media these new models support, thanks to Mimaki’s seventh-generation UV print technology, opens up the door for a myriad of applications, including large-scale decoration, sign displays and interior materials.

The new Mimaki SUJV-160 wide format solvent UV inkjet printer supports a print width of up to 1610mm, making it ideal for decorating leather fashion accessories, furniture and even car interiors.

A stand-out attraction of the event was the recently released 100 Series, which is priced affordably to allow printers entry into different markets, as many look to expand their portfolio in these uncertain times.

3D full colour print technology also featured heavily in the event, as Mimaki explored the exciting propositions it opens up in different markets and how the brand continues to extend the reach and accessibility of cutting-edge 3D technologies with its upcoming 3DUJ-2207 printer.

Kazuaki Ikeda, President of Mimaki Engineering commented, ‘I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone who joined us during this exciting new virtual event. During the pandemic, carrying on innovating has been central to Mimaki’s objectives, with eight new products having been released since October, and even more scheduled to come out over the course of this year. I hope that we can soon all meet at in-person events, once it is safe to do so, but until then I’m excited to see the results of the continued collaboration and innovation of print industry that we saw in our Innovation Days event.’

Graphix Supply World
Tel: 27 21 511 5340

Five Ways Post-Composition Will Help Print Production Workflows Handle More Business

Jonathan Malone-McGrew, Senior Director, Engagement at Solimar Systems, cites Madison Advisors’ study, which shows that the need to deliver what print buyers and customers require is key to the value of post-composition in 2021.

Printers are on a mission to find better ways to win more business and operate more efficiently. Their experience from last year is driving a renewed energy across the printing industry as they embrace the continued variability of print markets and its impact on how print production environments receive, produce and deliver work.

The bottom line is that the print industry continues to evolve — a notion confirmed in the latest market study from Madison Advisors (January 2021). Madison Advisors’ research focused on post-composition solutions for volume print production environments. Solimar Systems was part of this new market study. Why is post-composition important for the future success of volume print production industries? Madison Advisors puts it into context in their press release about the new study:

‘Even if some of the functionality of a post-composition solution overlaps that of the core document composition solution(s), the cost benefit of considering post-composition to address rapidly changing customer expectations more easily is worthy of serious consideration,’ commented Madison Advisors. ‘We believe that, to stay competitive, companies need to take a hard look at including post-composition into the workflow to support the ability to deliver highly personalised, efficient, cost-effective communications.’

This perspective from Madison Advisors dovetails positively into our experiences in the volume print production industries. As Madison Advisors states, the need to deliver what print buyers and customers require is key to the value of post-composition in 2021.

We see five effective ways post-composition will help print production workflows handle more business, more efficiently:

– Handle a larger number of smaller quantity orders.
– Fulfil the requirement for personalisation.
– Meet the demands for fast production and delivery.
– Enable competitive pricing.
– Leverage all destination devices and channels.

Of course, that is just the tip of the post-composition and production printing iceberg. To get started, I recommend that printers and digital communications providers take a look at their current processes, document them, and be able to identify where bottlenecks, slowdowns and manual processes exist. This will be a crucial starting point for a journey to improve production environment processes, increase ROI and open doors to increased business opportunity.


Stratasys Introduces New 3D Printing Solutions

The J35 Pro represents the first multi-material desktop 3D printer from Stratasys, while the J55 Prime extends the value of the J55 3D printer to include a new set of versatile materials providing tactile, textual and sensory capabilities in addition to full colour.

‘We’re in the business of helping designers and engineers translate whatever they can imagine into reality,’ said Shamir Shoham, vice president of design for Stratasys. ‘Through the versatility of multi-material PolyJet 3D printing, our customers can create models and packaging prototypes not only quickly and efficiently, but with remarkable realism.’

The new versatile J35 Pro 3D printer accommodates everything from concept modelling to high-fidelity, realistic and fully functioning models. This new all-in-one, multi-material desktop 3D printer is ideal for the engineering and design office setting. With the J35 Pro, users have the option to combine a variety of materials, including Vero™ UltraClear, that can be printed simultaneously giving engineers and designers the versatility to produce parts that match their exact needs. The printer can incorporate up to three materials that can be printed as single material parts or combined on the same model part, on the same tray. Applications include over-moulding, filling simulation and printing in full greyscale.

The multi-material capabilities of the printer allow designers and engineers to incorporate the widest variety of greyscale colours and materials into a single print, while achieving complex shapes, intricate details, and delicate features. Engineers and designers can not only see what the product will look like, but also test the functionality of it in the pre-production stage. The J35 Pro also offers a simple design-to-print workflow powered by GrabCAD Print™, allowing users to import their designs using native CAD files or 3MF file formats.

The new packaging solution from Stratasys enables designers to easily produce complex, high-transparency, full-colour, high-fidelity packaging prototypes that accurately simulate final packaging including realistic colour combinations, textures, transparency and flexibility. This includes the ability to print simulated glass bottles and add ‘labels’ with sharp text and images that meet 2D graphics labelling standards. Furthermore, designers can incorporate simulated products or fillings, like cosmetics, make-up or liquids, for the ultimate in realistic rapid prototyping. Designers can now create packaging prototypes so real-looking, it is hard to believe they’re not the real thing.

The J55 Prime builds on the technology of the Stratasys J55™ 3D printer introduced in 2020. In addition to the existing highly realistic visual models, the printer utilises multiple materials that cater to design, functional and biocompatible prototyping, such as:

Elastico™ Clear and Elastico™ Black for flexible, soft-touch printing that accurately simulates the look, feel and function of rubber-like products.

Digital ABS™ Ivory for high impact designs such as moulds, jigs, fixtures and functional prototypes.

Vero™ContactClear, a translucent material designed for prolonged skin or bodily contact such as medical devices, sport wear or wearables.

Ultra-opaque colours, enabled by the VeroUltra™ family of materials, introduces 2D level graphics and text, vibrant and accurate colours with better plastic simulation, raising the bar in 3D printed multi-material models.


Epson Develops New Printheads

Epson has developed three new printheads, including the D3000-A1R, the series’ first product to support ink circulation at the nozzle level. The new printheads will be released in the second half of the 2021 fiscal year (ending March 2022). The line-up of inkjet heads now comprises five series, thus further expanding potential applications in digital printing.

Product features


Ink is circulated at the nozzle level to prevent potential issues caused by the evaporation of moisture near the nozzles. Circulation also facilitates stable printing and increases the degree of freedom in the engineering of devices and ink. Unlike printheads in the existing PrecisionCore S series, these printheads do not require regular ink ejection and head cleaning.

With 1200dpi resolution and high-frequency driving, these printheads enable digital printers to deliver image quality and print speeds comparable to those of existing analogue printers. There is no need to adjust the position of heads in multi-head arrays. This significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to assemble and replace the heads.


The S3200-A3 uses the same 24 kHz frequency as the existing S3200-A1 yet produces droplets that are 1.4 times larger. It can deliver high print quality at high speeds even when the distance between the head and media is large, such as when printing on textiles and cardboard. With an easily scalable S-shaped design and a robust structure, the S3200-A3 supports a wide range of needs and applications.


With up to 1200 nozzles per inch (when using two colours), the I3200(8)-A1HD has a higher nozzle resolution than the existing I3200(4)-A1, enabling it to deliver high-definition images in a compact size without sacrificing the characteristic usability of the series.

This head is suitable for both high-speed, single-pass printing as well as multi-pass printing. The three new products will help accelerate the transition to low-waste, low environmental impact digital printing of applications such as textiles, packages and decorations. They will also facilitate distributed printing, allowing items to be produced locally, and on-demand printing, meaning that printers only produce what they need, when they need it.

The demand for digital printing with water-based ink has risen in recent years due to a desire to mitigate the environmental impact of printing. Epson will continue to develop original technology to contribute to the expansion of low environmental impact digital printing and further accelerate inkjet innovation.


Neschen Coating Searching For Distributors In South Africa

Neschen Coating GmbH is looking for partners in South Africa as well as in other Sub-Saharan regions. The international company is renowned for modern self-adhesive media and coating solutions for a variety of applications.

These range from book protection and repair films to graphic media and industrial coatings.  The company manufactures materials for visual communication, from easy dot® technology and over double-sided mounting films, to digitally printable wallpapers and interior decoration films.

Product ranges: 

– Graphic media and laminators: enhancement, protection and mounting films, printable media and laminators.
– Bookcare and repair: self-adhesive films and papers. For the protection, repair and care of books.
– Industrial coating: special coating processes and individual solutions for industrial customers.


Metamark Vinyl Used For Cake Van Decoration

Metamark M7 is a polymeric calendered coloured vinyl featuring a soft handle 70 micron face film, a high grade permanent solvent based adhesive and a performance-tuned lay-flat liner. It was recently used doe a cake van wrap.

Smuj Creative is based in Gloucester and so is its client JR Cakes. JR Cakes wanted to brand its red van and came to Smuj to get the job done. When your client makes cakes for a living and has a van they want branding, thoughts turn naturally enough to the power of durable inkjet print and its ability to render small things larger than life and in shrieking advertisers’ colours. Drape that print over the vehicle in question and send it on its way – a moving feast for the eyes dripping with icing.

There is another way though. If you have a critical eye for type and its layout, and a talent for manipulating the colours and contrasts that underpin good design, you can apply them to the challenge at hand and come up with the very antithesis of the busy wrap. You can design, produce and deliver an instant classic. You can give your client something that is really distinguished from all the static and clutter around it. Something that works at a commercial level and that looks really beautiful.

The work Smuj delivered is a simple assembly of elements cut from white Metamark M7 and applied with care and precision to the flanks and quarters of the client’s van. A casual script dominates and contrast with a simple graphical device and some nicely arranged and positioned text.

+27 87 056 3231

Senfa Announces New Recycled Fabrics

Senfa has expanded its range of recycled polyester fabrics. It saves up to 16% of CO2 emissions compared to standard products and is ideal to set up eco-responsible communication campaigns.

Each square metre of recycled polyester is made of two old plastic bottles. So a 3.20 x 50m roll = 320 plastic bottles recycled.

New products include:

– THEATER Blackout fabric (1.60, 3.20 and 5.10m).
– THEATER Blackback blackout fabric (1.60, 3.20 and 5.10m).
– BI-THEATER double sided printable fabrics (1.60 and 320m).

And also available :

– ALTERRA – Backlit fabrics (1.60, 3.20 and 5.10m).
– ALTIMIS – Backlit fabrics (1.60 and 320m).


Keeping Ahead Of Industry Trends In Signage And Graphics

According to Gerber Technology, while it would be easy to bypass some trends in signage, in order to be competitive, it is important that even the smallest trends are not overlooked.

In recent years, technology has advanced at lightning speed, which has necessitated the overhaul of a number of industries, including the commercial printing industry. This industry niche is cross-cutting, and those providing signage and graphics are likely to experience the same technological evolutions as companies try to position themselves strategically in order to maximise revenue.

While technology advances are driving many of these changes, other influences such as customer demand, increased use of personalisation, digitisation and 3D, as well as an orientation towards being more service-oriented, are all driving the industry to be innovative and cutting edge.

Important to recognise in the industry’s overall rapid growth:

– Printed packaging is expected to be 68% (up from 64%), and exceed $812 billion by the end of the year.

– The average yearly growth has been at 8% annually, and 95% of businesses are expecting expansion over the next 12 months.

– Only 18% of companies are entirely analogue, and 65.4% are now offering graphic design services, with 64.9% also offering POP/display advertising.

– Furthermore, the competition is particularly stiff in this industry, with 72.2% of companies having been in business for over twenty years, meaning that they are well-established and have a deep customer base.

Ultimately, companies in this industry are well-established, and poised to expand rapidly if they can capitalise on the right trends at the right opportunity.

1. The need to pivot PPE production

This past year has highlighted the ability of the graphics and signage industry to quickly pivot with the dramatic changes brought on by Covid-19. Some companies recognised the need early on for PPE, and realised they were in a position to transition their production lines to help, since the equipment and processing structures were very similar. This enabled many to be able to make sneeze guards, social distancing signs and other equipment for hospitals and businesses in need and decrease the burden on the PPE supply chain at the time. Furthermore, it helped communities recognise the utility of these companies, create more customers and form another revenue stream for businesses. By being agile and innovative, the industry was able to make lemonade from lemons, and keep business going despite very challenging times.

2. Personalisation is a must-have

Another avenue to pursue in the near future could be to address the increased demands of customers for personalisation. While many printing services are already inherently personal, many businesses have taken to offering more personal approaches to the way they deliver their product — such as individualised design and layout services. The drawback to this approach is that it can eat up more time (and potentially expense), but the payoff comes from improved and deepened relationships, as well as long-term loyalty. Another way to provide personalised services is to improve digitisation technologies, which allow the customer to scan, store and access their documents with ease. This is typically an easier modification to services that can be made, and pays off in dividends with the customer.

3. Customers prioritise convenience

Improve customer retention, such as by offering printing on-the-go services. This is a technological innovation that allows customers to order prints from their smartphones, and can greatly improve customer satisfaction and overall experience. This takes advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), which can help by connecting products together to facilitate ease-of-use. The downside of course being that it can involve significant investments to upgrade and improve a company’s technology, but oftentimes it will pay off in dividends.

4. Minimalism is in

Other customer trends include a focus on minimalism, which means companies will need to ensure that they avoid complex and extensive designs for their customers. Sustainability is important to customers. With this generation often driven by social issues, launching eco-friendly initiatives is increasingly important. And research shows that the details of environmental initiatives might be less important. Companies who are not including this as a consideration will be the ones that many consumers will avoid, in lieu of doing business with companies that are at least demonstrating some level of commitment to better sustainability practices.

Ultimately, it comes down to adapting practices wherever possible to provide more personalised services that meet the immediate needs of the customer. Improving technology so that customers can connect to printing services, have more control over the personalisation of products and designs, as well as by providing 3D printing and adjusting design practices towards minimalism, will all contribute to an improved customer experience. This coupled with an eye towards sustainability can help position companies in this space towards the front, and stay ahead of the technological innovation curve that is critical within this space.


Vehicle Wrap Of The Week: Wrap Vehicles

Sign Africa takes a weekly look at some of the most unique wraps. This week’s vehicle wrap features a Ford GT in a Sea Breeze Green wrap – Pantone matched and printed in-house.

If you would like to feature in our weekly highlights, send your eye-catching wraps to

+27 11 794 4929

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