UK IT Services Firm Markets Digital Signage As Output, Like Print, From Software Suite

May 5, 2023 by Dave Haynes

A UK-based IT services company that focuses on retail solutions software is marketing a broad communications suite that includes digital signage capabilities, and warning potential customers to not “go down the rabbit hole” of using narrow-purpose digital signage software platforms.

ECS Global says its Enterprise Communication Suite platform – called ECS5 – is a retail management system that allows businesses to design and update multiple forms of in-store signage, from printed signs and shelf tags to digital versions. The company argues a multi-output system greatly improves the efficiency and accuracy of retail communications.

Along with messaging, the platform handles functions like the integration of functions like planogram and inventory management. It also ties in to mobile devices, including smartphones, handheld devices, and mobile printers.

The company makes the argument, on its website, that using single-purpose, digital signage-first platforms is a mistake.

There are many digital signage types that retail stores can work with that provide different capabilities and technologies. Working with only one digital signage vendor forces your company to rely on this vendor for all digital communications and use their systems for design and management. This limits you to the capabilities provided by that one vendor and they may not make improvements or updates to their system for a few years, leaving you putting out the same digital signage and displays. This will trap your business in a digital cul-de-sac with very limited options.

This is a rabbit hole you do not want to go down as creating more silos within your customer communications will further waste time and money and putting all of your investment into one digital signage provider will severely limit your options. 

The argument has some validity, and certainly reflects how just about any large end-user with limited head office resources and time would like fewer different vendors and systems to learn and support.

But the counter argument is that a pure-play digital signage platform – certainly one that reflects several years of development and refinement – is quite probably going to have many more capabilities, as well as more thinking, experience and development done on key aspects like scale, security and flexibility.

The ECS site does not really get into detail about what the digital signage ECS5 can do, but the company does have its own hardware media players.

As noted a few times on this site, it is usually going to be far easier for a technology company in a defined vertical to develop baseline digital signage capabilities and a user experience to add to whatever kind of software that’s at the core of a product offer than it is for a pure-play digital signage software company to start adding mission-critical, secure functionality for markets like retail.

ECS has solutions in about 25,000 locations globally, which at first glance might seem impressive. But there are more than 1 million retail operations in the US alone, so this is not a monster, big market-share company offering a solution.

Huge retail tech companies like NCR have, in the past, also offered digital signage software in parallel to its retail management systems. But they’ve often been in and out of signage, and last year, as a compelling example, NCR announced a partnership with STRATACACHE that leaves the signage part to the Dayton, OH company while NCR focuses on IT services.

The ECS offer is reminiscent of what printer giant Lexmark has been marketing for a few years now – a solution that allows retail operators to physically print signs but also publish to screens and electronic shelf labels from the same software and login.

  1. Jason Cremins says:

    Customers do not want or need to be tied into any one platform for their retail media and/or digital signage requirements.

    In a world of API-first composable software platforms, customers can choose vendors and software that plays nicely together to build the required workflows for today whilst having the flexibility to adapt to future needs.

    Having choice extends the hardware the customer can deploy and manage, not just those developed and sold by the software vendor.

  2. Jeremy Gavin says:

    Interesting when they argue “Working with only one digital signage vendor” will limit your options and you are tied to their roadmap… well, wouldn’t the customer be in that same position by choosing ECS and whatever they choose to add for features?

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