I recently attended the POPAI Retail Marketing Conference – an annual event run by the point-of-purchase (POP) industry’s trade association.

We heard from a number of inspirational POP professionals who offered their thoughts on best practice and where they feel the industry is moving forward.

The more engagaing anecdotes were from people who could communicate campaign nuts and bolts while explaining guiding principles that could be applied to a variety of brands and circumstances. An interesting perspective was from the media sales director at Harrods who shared his view on digital screens in a retail environment.

We know that dwell time in store is often low – you will rarely see shoppers stood in front of screens for long periods of time, they generally pass by, maybe glancing for a few seconds before moving on. So why are the majority used for showing brand videos or TV adverts, or intricate information or instruction videos?

Screens are an evolution of the poster. They shouldn’t be treated as a forum for you to play out your treasured five-minute brand film or in fact anything that’s longer than 15 seconds. It’s a format for communicating one single, simple message – similar to how you would use a poster or light box – but in a more engaging way. At a push, you may consider looping a series of five or six short messages, but you would only expect shoppers to take away one or two of them.

Format of the display should also be considered – again align your thinking to how you would view a poster rather than a TV, so portrait rather than landscape may work better.

There’s always an exception to the rule and in this case I would say that an important consideration should be location. If you have comfy sofas outside a changing room where men lounge around waiting for their wives, you may find that they occasionally cast their eye away from their mobile device to look at your screen.

Now I’m not saying that the point Harrods made is revolutionary, it isn’t even new, but it is a different way of thinking about how people interact with screens instore.

Ultimately, this is all about knowing your customer inside out, understanding their desires and motivations, and how they shop your store. Customer insight is everything and it should be the cornerstone of every campaign. Used in the right way, screens can add value to your retail environment, just make sure you make dwell time one of your key considerations.