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Context must drive the agenda for digital signage says Chris Chubb of Green Room

We’ve heard the argument that there’s no need to put screens into stores as all customers are now equipped with a screen in their pocket.  Do we agree with this thinking? Well no, not really, because as retail designers we have control over the content on screens in our store environments but not over the content consumers choose to accept onto their own mobile screens. We would also rather the store environment engaged customers instead of them reverting to their mobiles.

At the other end of the spectrum, the ‘clicks to bricks’ Pro-Direct concept store we designed in London’s Carnaby Street has a very high screen to wall space ratio, but there was a clear rationale as to why the ratio is so high.

The Pro-Direct space was designed to embody the highly visual, content-curated and interactive nature of the brand’s online store. They have so many great visual assets to share and particular screens were given very distinct uses.

Here are six examples of where in-store screens have a genuinely beneficial role to play for both consumers and retailers:

Interactive screens are designed to provide browsing customers with the depth of knowledge they expect from an online catalogue of inventory. And just installing tablets with the retailer’s website is not the same. Consumers expect and rightly demand a richer experience instore.

Customers have adapted to want instant access to catalogue information because of their experience of online shopping.

Etailers have adapted to learn how to merchandise visually online, with high-quality models, planned photoshoots, careful accessorising, etc.

Why haven’t retailers adapted to deploy this burgeoning collection of beautifully crafted online collateral in-store? Perhaps because retail designers are arguably not yet accustomed to having such quantities of high quality content to curate. But given the existence of this ever-changing library of imagery, isn’t it time to embrace it?

The positive effects of bringing the amplification and applause of social media into the physical retail environment are multiple. Firstly the information helps aid the decision-making process of shoppers by reassuring and recommending through an ever-changing backdrop of real-time news.

Secondly, in-store interaction with these displays via mobile phones provides brand advocates with a moment of fame as their tweets or Instagrams appear on the big screen. This is a great emotional connection with the brand and there is considerable power behind the potential reach and influence of user-generated content.

Our design for Sun & Sand Sports in Dubai included digital screens in changing rooms that allowed customers to call for assistance, request items and even change the music in their booth. The potential to upsell, cross-sell and delight through screen interaction in that environment is huge.

With limited floor space, clothes are not on display in the Pro-Direct store. Instead, they are viewable through a life-size digital mannequin that the user can dress. This provides an interactive retail experience to share with friends, broader social media and also with the other instore visitors looking over their shoulder. The retailer gains the ability to display an extended range instore.

Both Pro-Direct and Sun & Sands Sports have been effective at encouraging the brands they represent to ‘take over’ the in-store screens for launches, events, etc. This provides retailers with the ability to use their space as a saleable asset, and also create appointment-to-view events that drive traffic.

While the fully trackable etail environment thrives on test and learn findings, the retail environment finds it far harder collect data. In-store screens can facilitate data capture and in-store learnings.

Tech for tech’s sake could leave retailers with a graveyard of kiosks and abandoned infrastructure cluttering their stores. But we believe there is a place for digital screens within retail and the customer expectation is there.

However, context must drive the agenda. Technology needs to be designed for the desired customer experience as part of a consistent customer journey. Content needs to be curated, relevant and regularly updated specifically for the target customer. And investment needs to be made in maintaining the feed.

Chris Chubb is digital director of Green Room

 

 

 

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