Sebastian Kryh Relates How Sweden’s Dise Focuses On Driving And Delivering Retail Experience

November 28, 2023 by Dave Haynes

Dise is an acronym for Digital In Store Experience, and that nicely sums up what the Swedish software firm Dise is all about.

Around for 20 years now, the company is heavily focused on a retail-centric communications platform sold through solutions providers and other partners in its channel.

Now everybody and their sister identifies retail as a main target vertical solution for their platform, but most software options are designed to serve a wide variety of interests that might include everything from factories and airports to hospitals and schools. Dise says it’s all about retail.

I had a good chat with CEO Sebastian Kryh about what makes his company’s product offer distinct, and how Dise defines retail experience.

Subscribe from wherever you pick up new podcasts.


(These transcripts are AI captured and then cleaned up by a staffed service. There will still be some boo-boos here and there, though, especially with unfamiliar corporate names or similar sounds, like sign and side … Honestly, I don’t have the time to carefully pick through the transcripts looking for small errors.)

Sebastian, thank you very much for joining me. Can you give me a rundown of your company? 

Sebastian Kryh: Sure thing. Thank you for having me, Dave. So Dise (Digital in-store experience) is a Swedish company that was founded back in 2003. So we’ve been at it for a while. For digital signage, we like to distinguish that by saying in-store experience or digital in-store experience, right?

Because it’s so much more than just a digital poster it’s sold purely through a network of selected partners with the goal of connecting the online and physical world to the physical space by improving the customer experience. With the mission to build a user experience to love with intuitive and easy software as a tool.

So would you describe Dise as a software company or more of a solutions company that has software? 

Sebastian Kryh: Interesting distinction there, I would describe it as a software company where we build on a product company. So, we build the platform or the suite, which has three parts, CMS being the shining star in the playout. We work with partners to create their experiences their offers, and opportunities to work with their brands and their customers. 

Okay. So, if you say you have a suite, what else is in the suite? 

Sebastian Kryh: There’s the CMS. It’s a cloud-based and intuitive CMS. We have a design tool to build dynamic content and templates in general, used in the CMS and then we have the software that runs on the media players. Both external ones like Windows, Linux, and Brightsign and SOCs like the big ones, Samsung and LG.

So when you’re working with largely retail customers and you start an engagement with them. What does your company take on, and what’s taken on by partners? 

Sebastian Kryh: So what we do is that we only work with partners. So, from time to time, of course, we interact with the brands and do that.

The perfect Dise partner is a full-service partner that takes care of all the pieces in the offering to the brands. Everything from creating the content to the consultancy of creating the concepts, installation support for all the partners. And what we supply is the in store experience platform and the support to the partners.. 

So, it would be a bit like, I know, I understand it’s very different, but Broadsign is they’re UX, Their everything is all focused around digital out-of-home advertising. That’s what they’re there for, versus probably, the high 90s percentile of CMS software companies are general offers that have some specialty aspects to them, but they’re pretty broadly focused.

It sounds like you’re saying that Dise is very much retail UX, designed for retail that’s where you’re going to shine. 

Sebastian Kryh: That’s where we’re going to shine. Exactly, and that decision was made quite a number of years back where it wasn’t more of a general feel to it. You could do basically everything you still can, but the main focus would be retail, and how we interact with the retail needs of campaign management and structuring of all the stores and the remote management you would need for that.

So, we feel that we are the ones who are focusing on retail and marketing ourselves as such and that’s where we shine, and that’s where we have the best results. 

So, you have in-store experience. How do you define experience, and how does the company define it? Because it’s a very broad term and used quite a bit when I don’t think there’s a real experience to what is being floated. 

Sebastian Kryh: Yeah, sure. But it’s also our way of thinking about combining the brand of the product experience together with them. What we can add is personalized communication and interaction that could be through an improved sales conversation or creating customer engagement. From everything, getting the correct feeling and vibe in the retail space to be able to have that really pointy and specialized content or communication for any given period of time or any use case in some sense, right?

So you’ve been doing this for 20 years. I realize you haven’t been there the whole 20 years, but the company has been doing it. What has changed? Obviously, there’s a lot more adoption of digital in store than there was 20 years ago, but I suspect that your target customers are also a lot more sophisticated and understanding of how to best use this.

Sebastian Kryh: Exactly, and beginning in the early days and as you said, I’ve been in the company before, for almost four years in different roles but it started out as really tech focused and the technology and the power that could be found 20 years ago was not where it is today, of course. Reading that it took more tech savvy and innovation to make stuff happen.

But we’re seeing it more and more moving from really focusing on what the tech is and what the CPU power and stuff is. It’s more about what you can do with it and how you utilize the power that’s available. I don’t know if that was an answer to your question though, but we’re of course seeing it from a perspective of also seeing it being a lot of Windows install or BrightSign installs where we’re seeing external media players.

Now of course, we’re seeing the SOC devices being much more capable and powerful and being something that’s growing faster, at least for us, than the external media players, which is still a clear majority of all the installs we have but we’re getting more and more requests for advanced features to be connected with triggers and sensor to screen itself.

I get a sense in a lot of cases, let’s say 15 years ago, if a retailer decided to incorporate digital signage into their in store experience. Quite often there were a whole bunch of screens and put on walls where there was available space. And it seems now that it’s way less about the sheer idea of having a bunch of screens in a store. Maybe it’s one or two screens but really thoughtfully positioned as, this screen behind the sales counter is for this reason and this one in the entry area is for this other reason and so on.

So, there’s a lot more strategy behind it than before.

Sebastian Kryh: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. That’s exactly right. If we’re going back a couple of years, it’d be okay. Now the 98 inch screen was put to market and everybody wanted to use it first. It’s a cool piece of tech and that’s also one thing, of course, that could bring attention but it’s just, what do you do with it?

You might get a better experience or the message getting through more, even if it’s a 55 inch, right? So we’re trying to take a step back from the actual screen size for tech or led wall. This is what is the content and working through a channel strategy. It’s not just, what do you want, what’s the message and what do you want your end users to see and react to and how you could compile that to be having a synchronized story. 

Also the old ways we’ve been talking about omnichannel for many years but how are we seeing? What’s communicated in the digital world on websites or on social media? How do you bring that in and make it feel natural when it comes in store? So you have a connected customer journey. We’re getting more and more of those and what our partners are working towards, it’s more and more connected to that journey. 

That’s correct. So if I was to ask you, give me a good example of a company that you and your partners are working with, where they’re really doing a nice job of applying digital in their stores, without putting you on a spot with the retail and making sure they’re ones that you’re allowed to talk about.

Sebastian Kryh: Yeah. So what are you saying that you want a partner we’re working with or what was your question?

Are there things that are done in retail settings that are always reliably impactful and other ones that have been tried?

And I’m thinking about some interactive things I see that are more like Novelty than actually having an impact. I’m curious what works and what doesn’t. I guess it is a shorter way of saying it. 

Sebastian Kryh: Help me understand what you’re meaning. 

I have seen some interactive screens put into retail environments, particularly athletic retailing sporting goods stores, where I don’t know why they did that other than the simple fact that, Hey, it’s an interactive, you can boycott this screen and something will happen versus just the right position, the right sort of scale of screen and everything that just there is nothing fancy about it, it just works.

Sebastian Kryh: And coming back to what we said a couple of minutes ago is that you gotta think about what you want to communicate and what do you want to send and how is that to be used in the flow of the customer journey? So in some sense just getting a touch application or interactivity. Working might sound like a cool thing on the design board, but how it’s then implemented if it’s not used by the sales team to be a sales companion, for example, how to utilize it then it might be just as you say, might be a gimmick or something that’s not really encompassed and used in the day-to-day work life in the retail space.

When you’re working with partners, are you directly involved with the customers or are you at a relay point where your partner is talking to the customer and they’re then coming back to you and saying, this is the functionality they would also like to have. 

Sebastian Kryh: Yeah. So exactly. So we work with our partners and as I said, from time to time, we are also invited to talk to the brands and to the partner’s customers. But many times we only learn of a project or of a brand when we see the order of licenses coming in. So of course, we work closely with our partners to figure out if they’re closer to the end customers than we are. They debate on figuring out what’s the worst market, what are they feeling or if it’s in sync with what our product roadmap is.

And from time to time, of course, we make alterations to it but we really feel it’s important for us to own the product roadmap and understand how we want to evolve the product and try to encompass and use the feedback we get from our partners to add features or add workflows, but it might be right.

So we try not to build on the project by project, but in more sense, this is an area where we need to improve or add. When that is built into a product it then can be used by all partners and all customers in some sense. So there’s only one version of the product given point.

Are you hearing or seeing much demand for audience measurement for analytics in store analytics? 

Sebastian Kryh: It comes in waves. But yes, it’s definitely a thing where we’re seeing it and then over in Europe, we’ve seen that there’s different ways of doing it. Going back. We used cameras a while back through legislation, the GDPR and data protection, that’s no longer a thing, but definitely for certain projects, that’s something that’s been used, but not in the majority of the cases.

Is that something you can provide within the platform or do you work with 3rd parties?

Sebastian Kryh: We would work with 3rd parties to specify that in some sense. What we do is we build the product, which is to then retail focus where that’s the market we’re aiming for. But we also have a strategy to partner with the best as it’s coming with sensors like for audience measurement, whether it be a radar or a camera, what it be.

Then we have a few that we work with, then they will be better at making sure that the sensors are up to par and doing what they should be doing than we do it for them. So then we will partner and the same goes for retail media or do. We also see an increase in interest, especially retail media and how we then work with partners to do more of the advanced campaign management and bidding and such which were not built into our platform.

Is that something you’re feeling pressure to have built into your platform? 

Sebastian Kryh: Not feeling pressure to have built into the platform. The partners we’re working with and the ones we’re talking to, future partners, they see they tend to like the idea of us being really good at what we do. And then when we can plug in or add in.

For example, the retail media is a partner to us or software that does that, they seem to, in some sense, honest on what we are really good at. We feel that we don’t have to solve all the problems in the world, and then we can take a niche product like that and add that.

And then the offering gets and everybody’s on top of the game. 

I’ve wondered a lot about the whole retail media space because it’s been extremely buzzy for the last year or so. And everybody’s talking about it, but it still seems like the in store digital piece is just a little tiny piece of it.

It gets mentioned, but I don’t know that it’s really front and center in many plans 

Sebastian Kryh: I would say we’re seeing an increased talk about retail media and I guess that’s also coming in from when we’re seeing articles written about the value of it and how you can monetize your network.

But when it comes to rollouts, yes, there are definitely a few, but the majority is still the in-store experience and making sure you can communicate in a good and efficient way to your crowds as a branch. And when you’re managing larger networks of thousands of screens, then you want to make sure that you have a platform or a CMS that, that works with that has those capabilities of everything from provisioning to remote management, software updates, of course, all these things that we sometimes take for granted.

There’s better ways of doing it than ours. I think we got a good set of features in that area. 

One of the reasons that retail media is being buzzed or is so buzzy is this idea that in the same way that with e-commerce and online retailing, you’ve got traceability that you understand. 

Somebody came on the site and they saw this and then they bought it. That’s a conversion rate that they can establish. It’s much harder to do in physical retail. Are you getting requests and pushes to somehow or other create some more visibility in terms of how this promotional spot was seen for this period of time?

Sales went up X amount, based on AB samples, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, that you could actually see that by using digital media in store, it had this net positive effect. 

Sebastian Kryh: And in some sense that will be not trying to back out the question. That’d be more for our partner, right? That would sit and talk directly to the brand.

But of course, we are responsible for what goes on screen. Then we would be able to tell, okay, these promotional ads were run at this specific time, like proof of play reports, for example, and then you need to cross reference that with the actual data from the point of sale saying, okay, we did these campaigns in these stores and sales went up 10 percent more than stores that didn’t have the promotional ad.

Let’s go with that one. But it’s more of a combination of us supplying our part and then someone that needs to crunch the data from our partner or from the retailer themselves. 

So there’s all kinds of discussions around integration with different kinds of business systems, including point of sale and inventory systems.

Is that something more that your intermediary partner would sort through and you can provide the API for your piece of it in terms of play out logs and everything.

Sebastian Kryh: Usually that’s the way it’s done today, where we would be able to feed. Our partner would be able to create the concept for the retail or they would be able to pull that data from us and that’s what has actually been played and then add other parts of information to it.

So we’re not trying to hold on to the information, okay, we need all the pieces of the puzzle to be important. This is what we contributed with and we know we create value by it and then if you want to, you could add other dimensions to it, like quality sales, for example. Then do that math and see what’s the ROI, for example.

And there’s definitely those projects or those robots that’s measured on ROI, but I would say that the vast majority are not based on, okay, if we invest this much in screens, we want to see this much in sales. There are definitely those, but the most of them are coming back to the experience and feeling they want to create in their physical retail space and how can we make that better?

And to that end, how do they know it’s better? How do they, how do you measure experience? 

Sebastian Kryh: That’s a good question. I guess that’s done in multiple ways from just the brand being feeling that this is the message we want to present, how we want to be seen and how we’re doing it, and I know they’ve been doing surveys with customers saying, okay how do you feel this communication and this experience was compared to something else. But in some sense, that’s not something that we are able to help much with, but then being able to work through our partners, creating the concepts, right?

But I guess other parts where we’re seeing also operational efficiencies is that when you integrate to like PIM or the DAM systems where we can trigger content and then such, make sure that we have the right content running on screens depending on availability of stock or picking up the product photos and making sure that the content that’s on screen is automated by a template instead of someone having to click around and drag files and pick the right naming of the product. 

So those guys can focus on doing the analysis and the smartness and then we can have the system automate and create the content in an efficient way.

Are you seeing your end user customers doing much in the back of the house is like staff facing displays versus purely displays that are aimed at retail shoppers. 

Sebastian Kryh: I would say that 90% of the products are focused on the retail floor.

And definitely screens are put in the break rooms and such to display other information. But, as it has been retail focused, the corporate communications part of it. It’s not something that we’ve dug deep into but we have brands and partners using our software for that, of course. 

You can display whatever you want on screen but the workflows and the product tend to look at the retail aspect of it and the floor. 

The project starts with what the shoppers are going to see, not with what the staff are going to see.

Sebastian Kryh: Exactly. That’s a good way of putting it.

In terms of retail technology there is a very large ecosystem. There’s no end to companies providing different kinds of business systems and everything else into retail. Are you seeing any other technology companies that aren’t pure play digital signage that are like POS companies that are starting to market digital signage capability saying, we do these other things for you. We can do this too.

Sebastian Kryh: Yes. We’ve seen it and I don’t have a name in my head right now but we’ve seen different views on it. There’s always these places where we’re doing really well, but we’re really close to this area.

Why don’t we try and do that also? And we’re quite confident in our abilities and experience that we are the ones that want to use our products. They want a few extra steps in capabilities within the platform. 

So, if you want really basic capabilities, messaging does not going to change very often at all.

There’s no granularity to it. You just put something up in every store and leave it there for a month or something. Then any old system might be able to do that. But if you want any level of sophistication, you’ve got to go to something that’s designed for it. 

Sebastian Kryh: That’s a good way of summarizing.

Yes, there’s many thousands of CMS out there, but there’s when we’re talking about the big ones that we maybe see as our competitors, there’s more advanced features in it and making sure that you take the operational standpoint also from adding the screen to adding the license and making sure it runs and have the efficiency during that time, but also, when you want to do updates or how you want to monitor the hardware over time, making sure that so we catch errors before they happen, how we can have alarms for players not, of course, not being connected, but also having it content scheduling it’s not valid. 

For example, if you have scenarios or tags put in on the screen where we can see, okay, for this period of time, no scenario will be valid.

The content on screen won’t show anything, but fallback content, for example. So you want safety features built in to take care of those things or notify you at least of those and that’s just one example of just going that extra little bit to make sure that you are taking care of the partners we’re working with and also the end customers. 

Many of the partners we work with, of course, have scheduling services. They offer that to the brand and the retailers, but quite a few retailers in our system are changing, updating and adding content together with our partner.

So it needs to work with both the large-scale efficiency of the partner and also with the retailer logging in themselves, adding content to the local store, the local campaign or the regional campaign. 

Are the Nordic companies in Northern Europe your primary market or are you all across Europe?

Sebastian Kryh: We’re all across Europe and from early days we’ve been, of course, very European companies. So Europe has been our major market, but we’ve been working out of Asia also. We do have business in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and then other parts of Southern Asia and been working partly with North America also, mainly Canada and a few cases in the US, which now it’s as we talked, it’s the magic step to take for a European company to enter the US market. 

At the size we are at now, where we have a lot of good business and a good backbone in Europe, we’re getting ready to take the step across the pond. We have a few partners, but we’re definitely looking for more partners to help us engage in the U.S. market and the Canadian market for that matter. 

Can you provide some background on how the company is owned and everything now? I’m reluctant to say the name of the owner because I’m going to mispronounce it. So I prefer you to do that.

Sebastian Kryh: Vertiseit and the story behind that was to “advertise it” and we took out the “ad” in the beginning, so it just became Vertiseit. 

All right, because I was thinking about Vertiseit and this and that.

Sebastian Kryh: Yeah, but that’s the story of it. And Vertiseit is today the holding company for two companies, Dise being one and Grsssfish being the other and..

GrassFish is in Austria.

Sebastian Kryh: They’re an Austrian company founded in Austria, exactly, but now fully owned by Vertiseit. Vertiseit’s vision is to connect the world of retail and wants to be the leading platform company within digital in-store or in-store experience management Vertiseit purchased or acquired Dise in 2017 and started a journey of morphing the Dise journey from being a lot of on-prem and perpetual licenses to going into pure SaaS and focusing on the retail space and also clinging really tough too and true to the partner channel and how we only work with partners and reward loyal partners and coming into the other company within the group which has their own CMS or their own platform which they’ve been working on and they were acquired by the group in 2020. 

For a few years after, they work with partners, not always through partners to serve the brands with added services as agency and agency services. So it’s really the channel that differs the companies.

Do the technologies get co-mingled at all? Or do you pretty much operate independently?

Sebastian Kryh: We operate independently. So that we’re two different companies and two separate softwares. But of course, some of the tech guys might talk, okay, how can we solve this? And how can we do that within the group or the market play or customer play? 

It’s two different companies and we have a Chinese wall in between us. 

What happens when salespeople from both companies get a sniff at the same opportunity? 

Sebastian Kryh: Then we both go at it and that’s happened from time to time. There was one quite recently where the Grassfish heard of it and also a Dise partner heard of it independently and both ventured into the opportunity and went for it and it’s handled as two separate things. So we fight for ourselves. 

And the boss just says, you guys just be adults about it and let the best one win? 

Sebastian Kryh: Exactly. But of course, it comes down to differences in the product test with all CMSs. They have slight differences in everything.

And the one that won had the best offer with the best product match. So there’s no decision made in top management. For this opportunity, we will put this one forward. If it’s out there and if both are within their different channels markets, market strategies and waiting for the same then that’s allowed and the brand will then choose which one they think is best for them and that’s the one that should win. 

All right, last question. What might we see out of Dise in 2024? What’s coming? 

Sebastian Kryh: We’ve been working on the CMS. We’re getting really good rates about that and being more intuitive than ever. And I’d just like to mention just one thing before going to that is, we did a demonstration of the CMS for a now assigned partner. But a couple of months back was a potential partner. After demoing the CMS for 25 minutes and their response was, ‘Congratulations’. 

That’s something we took back as being really proud of. Of course, they had a few questions on details, but it’s really intuitive and really nice to use.

But what we see in 2024 is we’ll add more to the playout part of it and how we can cover more operating systems as we’re running today, the soft platforms and Windows platforms to do improvements there. So, that’s a part of the CMS; of course, it’s continuous improvement, but I think you’ll see more and larger improvements or larger changes in the playout area. 

And do you have a stand at ISE? 

Sebastian Kryh: We do have a stand at ISE. We’d love for you to, of course, come by so we can show you some of the launch and the changes in ISE. So just take your time and swing by… 

And show your latest pots of pans.

Sebastian Kryh: Exactly. Right. 

All right. 

Sebastian Kryh: Yeah. Please come by and watch new things. 

Terrific. All right. Thank you so much for spending the time with me. 

Sebastian Kryh: Thank you so much for having me, David. It’s been a pleasure.

Leave a comment