As a brief respite for tired travelers, Duty Free Americas, the largest duty-free retailer in the Americas, began its digital transformation a few years ago. The goal was to modernize their stores and elevate the customer experience, but their existing display technology occasionally experienced malfunctions. This limited the company’s ability to offer premium advertising options to vendors. In order to minimize device downtime and maintenance costs and increase sales, Duty Free Americas needed an updated technology stack that would facilitate vendors’ dynamic on-screen content and create a more engaging customer journey.
“It's like having a movie theater inside our beautiful store.”
— Milton Chiz, CIO of Duty Free Americas
Duty Free Americas is the leading travel retailer in the Western Hemisphere offering duty-free products. They carry an extensive selection of world-renowned brands across 200 brick-and-mortar stores. Duty Free Americas is committed to meeting vacationers’ and business travelers’ needs and establishing a reliable, distinguished retail footprint across the globe.
Instability stressed previous technology and compromised the customer experience
Duty Free Americas has been transitioning from static signage to digital displays over the last few years, recently adding TVs to their stores to create a more engaging and dynamic shopping experience. Their previous content management solution (CMS), however, posed several operational challenges — namely, its instability.
Their previous network was significantly slowed by large files that occasionally crashed. Updating vendor playlists was also a colossal undertaking. In order to add or update a single item in a playlist of 70 videos, for example, the staff had to create a whole new playlist.
“The entire system was unstable and cumbersome and made it difficult to maneuver content onto the displays,” says Milton Chiz, CIO of Duty Free Americas.
These malfunctions increased labor and maintenance costs while creating additional work for employees and compromising the customer experience.
Duty Free Americas hoped digital solutions would solve these issues. Company executives knew video displays could create a captivating and memorable shopping experience for customers, keeping DFA’s stores at the forefront of innovation.
The company saw additional opportunities for their vendors that seemed just out of reach. Duty Free vendors were interested in catering to certain markets and demographics at certain times, but DFA’s previous solution limited the stores’ ability to promote targeted advertising services with absolute confidence.
“We made the decision to go with a tech stack that was functional and easy to use, allowing us to ramp up our marketing staff quickly,” says Chiz. “In order to do that, we needed to make the right choice with our digital signage.”
Immersive imagery deployed on reliable systems
The Duty Free Americas team researched several alternative solutions before ultimately deciding to work with Samsung. Starting with their flagship store in the Miami International Airport, the in-store transformation included large format LED panels, QH Series UHD displays and two LED video walls. The backbone of the system is Samsung’s proprietary MagicINFO Cloud software for content, device and data management.
Now, everyone is on the same page about how to create and deploy content using MagicINFO Cloud’s intuitive interface.
“The Samsung team explained how everything works, helped train our staff and set up in-house maintenance service and technical support,” Chiz explains. “They also sent engineers into our stores to configure and oversee the project.”
In addition, Samsung engineers are guiding the Duty Free Americas team through retrofitting all stores with new displays supported by MagicINFO Cloud. The company will be able to offer premium advertising space — such as a dedicated display or LED wall in a high-traffic area — at premium prices.
On dedicated vendor displays, luxury products like top-shelf spirits and high-end fragrances are advertised with incorporated videos and music. In strategic locations around the stores, QM and QH series displays share immersive scenes and imagery, interspersed among the merchandise. A spirits vendor might feature a video of a refreshing cocktail splashing over ice, while a fragrance brand might highlight product models or a celebrity partnership.
“The scenes are relaxing and beautiful to look at,” says Chiz. “It makes people want to enjoy that cocktail or put that beauty product on their body.”
In the Miami flagship store, the Duty Free Americas team installed two large format LED IF Series video walls. The video wall located just outside the store entrance is visible to about 1.1 million visitors every month, according to airport foot traffic data — and that figure nearly triples during the holiday season.
The QHH series displays can showcase more than one billion colors at 100 percent color volume, and produce deep blacks, pristine whites and sharp hues that make any picture pop. The displays deliver the enhanced brilliance, detail and realism necessary to cut through the clutter and fuel interactive, ongoing business growth.
Samsung’s IF Series fine pixel pitch displays combine leading video processing technologies with High Dynamic Range (HDR) picture refinement to deliver clear, high-quality content within a compact, easy-to-maintain design.
Responsive displays and content generate sales and promote revenue
So far, Duty Free Americas has transitioned to Samsung digital signage in many of its 200 U.S. stores, as well as some stores abroad. In locations that use MagicINFO Cloud, troubleshooting times have decreased, and employee satisfaction and customer engagement have also improved. The company is now able to deploy content and promote advertising opportunities with confidence.
“It’s reduced the costs of third-party technicians significantly,” Chiz says. “Our staff can now easily create and edit playlists in real time without interrupting the content that is currently playing.”
As customers enter Duty Free Americas stores, they’re greeted by colorful displays and vendor commercials. These bright, crisp pictures create a vibrant viewing experience that’s emotionally engaging. People walking through an airport are often having a stressful day of “hurry up and wait.” Duty Free Americas stores provide a brief respite with beautiful imagery as they shop for their favorite little luxuries.
Now, staff can easily add to, remove and rearrange content playlists without creating an entirely new file each time — which is a massive timesaver. “We can replace one video within a playlist within minutes,” Chiz says.
At the flagship store in Miami International Airport, the customer experience is elevated even further with two large format LED video walls. “It’s like having a movie theater inside our beautiful store,” Chiz says.
MagicINFO Cloud allows Duty Free Americas to schedule when certain videos will play — such as when a flight arrives from Asia or South America — allowing the company to showcase the most relevant brands and products to the majority of their customers at any given time.
Stores can also let vendors know how their ads are performing. “Vendors pay a premium price to have their videos play in certain locations inside the stores,” Chiz says. “Now, we can provide them info about how many times their video played during each day and the impact it had on their sales.”
The new Samsung displays and accompanying management software have created timesaving marketing opportunities for Duty Free Americas, which will continue as they deploy these solutions in more of their locations around the globe.