This article is based on discussion during a virtual roundtable meeting of A.R.E.’s Designers
of Retail Environments and Merchandising Team (DREAM Team). Participants included:
Hollister’s Fifth Avenue
store took the brand’s
live Huntington Beach
video feed to the streets,
projecting it on 179
screens on the two-story
content that practically
AT&T’s Michigan Avenue store in Chicago includes a changing digital exhibit by local artists.
5 Plan content management.
Monitors that shut off or, worse, display the
“blue screen of death” not only are ineffec-
tive, but a waste of resources. Make some-
one accountable for continually updating
the content of digital signage and train
in-store associates on its use. Make sure it
contributes to a comfortable environment
for both shoppers and staff. “It can drive
the staff nuts, so they turn monitors off, or
at least the volume off because it gets so
annoying to live with it during your shift,”
Bell cites a live feed of Huntington Beach
surfing in Hollister windows in New York as
a great solution that, while not new, remains
current because it continually changes. “That
kind of thing never needs to be updated.
It’s always exciting,” she says.
At C Spire in Starkville, Miss., phones are organized by use
(i.e., business vs. personal) and each group is merchandised
around a screen; when a customer picks up a phone, the screen
is activated to provide information relevant to that device.
4 Keep it relevant.
“If it’s overt and in your face,
it’s not doing its job,” says
Milne. “It should be reasonably seamless. The client
shouldn’t be aware that it’s
technology. It should just
make the shopping experience more meaningful.”
2 Give them a reason to revisit.
Provide something beyond what people see
online. Better yet, make it an ever-changing
in-store experience, such as dynamic content that highlights the work of a different
local artist each month.
3 Use the right tool for the job.
Judy Bell, founder of Energetic Retail in
Minneapolis, Minn., notes that many stores
she’s seen have video monitors that are too
small to be effective and don’t fit in with the
look of the store. “It seemed they were put
in because somebody thought they should
have that in the store,” she says. In contrast,
huge backlit graphics in Forever 21 and The
Gap effectively communicate lifestyle messages while drawing shoppers to the back of
Technology is not only enabling the use of
new tools, but improving simpler, existing
visual presentation tools, says David Milne,
principal and creative director of Toronto-based DMD Retail Design Ltd. Due to technological improvements in printing processes,
the screen-printed murals of yesteryear have
been replaced by dynamic images on fabric
on stretch frames 35 feet long and 7 feet high
with no seams, backlit with LEDs, he notes.
Barteldt cites the example of a retailer that
used projected video to promote product
features and benefits throughout the store.
The effect seemed gimmicky, and ideally, he
explains, the concept would work better if it
were customizable (on the fly) to a unique
customer’s need. Milne adds, “It’s a one-way
conversation. They’re talking at you. If it
could be a two-way dialogue of problem
solving, that would be brilliant.”