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Retail Upwardly Mobile

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Digital Signage Keeps Saudi Cellphone Customers Informed While They Wait

In 2004, the Government of Saudi Arabia awarded Etihad Etisalat a license to

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Mobily stores now offer ‘Knowledge Zones’ that deploy a range of display and messaging solutions, powered by Scala’s digital signage platform, to entertain waiting customers. become the second mobile GSM, 3G and 3.5G service provider in the kingdom; Etihad Etisalat duly set up a network and began trading under the official brand name of Mobily. While it was always intended that the arrival of a competitor to the kingdom’s existing provider of mobile communications services, the challenge for Mobily’s management was to develop an innovative brand image that would not just differentiate their offering but suggest the energy and dynamism they wished to be associated with it.

In January 2005, Mobily turned to PRO-AV, a division of United Yousef Naghi, to develop an innovative digital information solution for its planned network of retail outlets. Based on Scala’s established InfoChannel digital signage platform, the network was intended not only to enhance Mobily’s brand image, but to provide customers with information on the range of products and services available,

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all of which were new at the time.

In the three years since the working relationship began, PRO-AV helped Mobily to deploy digital signage solutions in 35 flagship outlets, 45 socalled ‘fully branded’ outlets, 182 miniature fully branded outlets, and three Mobily Megastores. Between them, the stores utilize over 360 Scala InfoChannel players, while each Mobily Megastore employs between 40 and 50 players. Content for the digital information network is created and managed by United Yousef Naghi from their three Network Operations Centers (NOC) in Jeddah and Riyadh, and distributed to all outlets over an IP infrastructure.
Mobily’s Scala network is integrated into the Q-Matic customer queuing system, with messaging and advertising content displayed on a customized LED screen to match the company’s CI guidelines and sound system. As customers arrive, they interact with a kiosk or counter attendant. Customers can then wait in a central area or browse until called. When a counter becomes available, the counter attendant calls the next customer using an on-screen application, voice announcement and text-based LED messaging. The next customer waiting receives both visual and audio notifications directing them to that counter.

Earlier this year, after conducting market research that suggested customer

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education would be the key to promoting new technology platforms, Mobily began rolling out a new feature in its larger stores, known as the Knowledge Zone, or KZone for short. Like the previous integration of digital signage with queuing systems, the K-Zone’s purpose is partly to mitigate the huge customer volumes often experienced by Mobily stores. With K-Zone, however, customers are encouraged to wander freely and interact with cutting-edge displays that are designed to entertain and educate.

Each K-Zone is divided into three themed areas: Live, Play, and Work. Into these are placed a number of sub-zones including a welcome desk, a self-service area powered by interactive kiosks, a gaming zone, an internet access point, and a technical support area.

PRO-AV Director Rami Badran attributes the success of his company’s partnership with Mobily to “taking real ownership of the project and employing strong after-sales support, with three NOCs, a help desk, 13 service centers across the Kingdom, and more than 20 vehicles to help operate and maintain Mobily’s outlets and offices.”

And Mobily’s investment in PROAV’s solutions certainly looks to have paid off. In the four short years since it began offering its services, the company has grown its customer base from zero to over 10 million—breaking all records in the Middle East marketplace.

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