Technology and the art of in-store aesthetics
Aglobal hub for retail design and VM, the Euroshop, just concluded its 2014 edition and according to the industry's who’s-who's, there were some noteworthy trends this year too. According to Kenneth Nisch, Chairman, JGA (check out his column in this issue) use of technology was one of the most discernible trends this year among all leading global retailers who participated in the show. As Kenneth rightly points out, technology influences the aesthetics. This includes robotics infused mannequins, interactive LCD screens with 3D effect etc. Indeed with technology, particularly interactive technologies becoming an indispensable and inevitable aspect part of our lives, a seamless integration of technology into store design, communication and VM would seem to be part of the natural order of things. But is it? Digital technology vendors' grouse is that while a brand (retailer) allots a significant portion of the budget on mannequins, lights, store design, colours, flooring etc, when it comes to something like digital technology, there is always a cost consideration. Well, the fact is that investment in an interactive digital screen in-store, for example, is a one-time cost and the benefits are innumerable -- wide product range showcase, live customer interaction, customization, etc to name just a few, not to mention the whole level to which it takes the in-store experience and environment. And then this is just one aspect of technology use. There is also the integration of technology into the various VM elements -- right from virtual mannequins or robotic mannequins (as pointed out by Kenneth) to customization of lighting, merchandise display, customer interface ...the list is endless. And this does not even look at back-end technology. Well, you get the drift. So, ‘Go tech’ could probably be the mantra retailers could do well to chant in the new financial year.