Retail Resolutions for 2015

RF Image from Corbis © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis

RF Image from Corbis © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis

Ten Retail New Year’s Resolutions You Can Make in 2015

It’s that fun time of year when we enjoy making lists for the new year. All the stuff we’re going to do, not do, or do better now that we’ve got a clean slate. I’m not immune from list making, so I thought I’d share ten retail related things I think are worth doing in 2015, to help make your retail experience the best it can be. They may not be monumental, or even new, but they are worth considering in the new year (every year really).

1) Create A Website For Your Business

I don’t care if you’re a name brand, a local shop or a plumber: you need an online presence. There are plenty of DIY website providers that have simple to use templates. Often they can host your site, provide you with a domain name, and an email address. For less than a couple hundred dollars a year, everyone will be able to find you, learn about your business, and know how to get in contact with you. Get at least one page up on the internet with your information. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. If you still don’t want to be bothered, sites like Facebook allow you to set up an online presence basically for free.

2) Start A Store 

Are you selling online? Take a stab with a physical retail space. Pop-up stores are becoming ubiquitous. These little temporary shops can be rented for short periods of time, sometimes for the day, and are usually found in high traffic areas that are favored by hip young shoppers. Often all you’ll need is your product, some in store marketing (i.e. signs) and your sales hat. Check out websites such as The Store Front to get started.

Do you have a physical store? Add a shop to your website, or get a free or  low-cost shop online on sites like Etsy (for art, antiques and crafts) where you can sell your goods.

3) Define Your Brand

Whether you’re new or you’ve been selling for a while now, try to take a look (or hire someone to take an unbiased look) at your business and your brand. Why do you exist? Answer that and then let that guide every decision you make about your retail business. And throw out anything that doesn’t add value to your answer; everything that does not contribute to your purpose. Understand your strengths compared to your competition and leverage those. Don’t be something you’re not. Customers want products from brands who have a clear vision of who they are. Insert obligatory Apple or Nike example here.

4) Omni-channel Sync

You’ve got a brand, your store and an online presence. That’s a good omni-channel retail experience. Now sync them all. Make sure your message is consistent, consistent, consistent…at every touch point consumers have with you. And constantly examine and rework any areas that are falling short. If you don’t have the time, then hire an expert in retail design, search engine optimization, graphic or web design to help you out. Subconsciously consumers can tell when you’re sending mixed signals, which can translate to lost sales.

5) Understand Your Customer

Consumers change whether you like it or not. Even if you have a highly specialized customer base that you think is impervious to the changing world, it is still important to make sure you understand their wants and needs. Advances in technology now allow customers to shop from any store in the world. Even die-hard loyal customers will peek around every once in a while just to make sure they’re getting what they want. Leave nothing to chance. Identify customer needs and provide top-notch customer service and goods. If you need help researching customers, market and trends, there are a plethora of professional resources out there that specialize in retail research. And don’t be afraid to go in a new direction if that is what your retail business demands.

6) De-clutter 

Yes, everyone loves the charm of hunting and pecking through an antique store. But unless you’re an antique store take a look at your retail environment and try to straighten things up a bit. Last year I was in a clothing shop and I could barely move between fixtures places a foot apart. It drove me crazy just being in the store. Yes some customers don’t mind, but then why even bother with all the fancy displays and fixtures; why not just put out cardboard boxes for them to rummage through? That would save you a lot of money.

Using your brand mission as a guide look at every element: fixtures, signage, props, product, way finding. Make sure everything speaks to your overarching message, but also make sure guests can navigate and shop in a clear, fun, rewarding manner. For example, if you’re stuck with an eclectic collection of metal fixtures, paint them all the same color to create some consistency. Create aisles that can be navigated at the very least. The retail experience is why you’re selling your items in a store instead of from a shoebox on the sidewalk. Good design, a good retail experience, does not cost any more than a dismal experience, and it will make you more money in the long run. Know when to bring in outside help if necessary. It’s not always a DIY type of project.

7) Get Flexible

You need tools that work for you in your retail space. While it’s fun to peruse catalogs, or buy props, simplify your display and fixture offering by utilizing flexible merchandising systems. Typically they share parts, are easy to tailor to your changing retail landscape (once you figure out how they go together) and they help give some consistency to your visual merchandising. Even if you’re using all found objects, use items that can be used in a variety of ways. A crate that can be a table, box or seat maybe. And if you can swing for new fixtures, make sure they all use the same accessories so you can mix up your merchandising as the year progresses. Modular display systems should be “updatable” as well, so as styles change you can switch wood tones, graphics or color accents.

8) Amp Up Visual Impact

Graphics (i.e. signage) is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to amp up your retail experience. Large format graphics attract from far away. Good way finding helps guests find departments and products. A consistent signage package is an extension of your brand message. You can now direct print onto virtually any substrate including wood and glass. And printing has become very environmentally sustainable. As a subset of visual impact, if you don’t want a ton of signs in your store, utilize awesome store window displays, and props to get your message across. Lastly, let your product and it’s packaging sing. No need for the display to fight the product or retail experience.

9) Store Within A Store

Creating a boutique retail experience has always been a great way to generate interest and help guests navigate. A large percentages of our projects are these types of projects. Pick a brand in your store, such as a purse manufacturer if you’re running an apparel store, and allocate a specific area for that product. Amp it up with special displays, flooring, lighting, and signage. And feel free to change these areas out seasonally or tailer areas for different brands. Go to any big box or department store (such as JC Penny with their in house Sephora shop) and you’ll see what we’re talking about. Regardless of your store size, and even if you’re only on-line, you can set up an enriching store within a store experience.

10) Have Fun

Ultimately figure out why you’re in retail and pursue the things that make you and your customers happy. Try different things. Challenge conventional thinking. And have fun.

Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design agency that specializes in designing interiors, displays, fixtures, packaging and graphics for retail stores. They also provide expert retail market research and environmental sustainability consultation services. Chris has designed retail solutions for retailers such as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot, and product companies including American Greetings, Valspar, Step2, Flambeau Products, and Energizer.

No project is too large or small. We add value to your business through design expertise, and provided you with the expertise you need, allowing you to focus on your business. Contact us today at (330) 858-8926 or visit http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com for more information

We do not endorse any companies or products mentioned on our design blog. They are for reference purposes only. Utilized goods and services from these companies at your own risk. Happy new year.

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Customer Service Is More Important Than Anything

Photo from Corbis.com © Corbis 2014

Photo from Corbis.com © Corbis 2014

 

A recent customer service experience reinforced in my mind, how important customer service is to your business. It doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, product maker, service provider – understand your customers and how to take care of them. That should be the number one rule for your business.

A Bad Buying Experience

In my example I was simply a customer looking to use a dealer parts coupon to get $80 off of a $1,000 set of run flat tires. Not a big deal, and I had cleared it with a service representative when I made the appointment. Turns out they wouldn’t honor our agreement when I went to drop my car off. They explained the price was already discounted (it wasn’t, I had checked pricing and got several other quotes which were in line with the dealer’s price quote) and I was getting a good deal (I wasn’t – install was $25 / tire and they were going to make me get an alignment).

So despite the fact my family woke up early and drove across town to help me drop the car off, I walked out, taking my business, and future business elsewhere.

Now whether you think I over reacted or not (I didn’t), it was so refreshing as a consumer to feel empowered. I don’t have enough time, money or desire to play games as a consumer. I had another tire dealer on the phone before I was out of the parking lot and they took care of me. The dealer lost a long time customer (we’ve bought three cars there) over an $80 discount.

Focus On Customer Service

Successful businesses build mutually beneficial relationships that encourage people to part with their money, goods or services in exchange for money, goods, or services. To me this is what customer service is: building, managing and maintaining those relationships.

Business is not just “business” if you want to be in business for long.

There are so many options for spending one’s time and money in this omni-channel world. Customer service is the most important aspect of business. Guests are more informed and have less perceived time more now than ever. Yes, they will linger or buy on a whim, but more often they do their homework and have the value of something in mind before they buy. They know what they want, how much they are willing to pay, and can likely rattle off a handful of places where they can get it besides you or your business.

The economy in this country is humming along at a steady pace. So there are people out there spending money, and they are empowered more so now than ever. Yes, it’s a two-way street. Customers should reward businesses that do a good job. But you can’t control that. What you can control is how your business operates and approaches customer service.

We work in the retail design business. The displays, fixtures and interiors we design enhance the experience of shopping for your guests and potential customers. I see our work as a subset of, or secondary to, customer service. We can design things that make guests go “wow”, making it easy and enjoyable to buy things from you.

But nothing we can design will compensate for bad customer service.

If you want them to come to you to buy what you are selling, then you need to make customer service the priority in your business. It’s where the rubber meets the road (pun intended).

-Chris

Chris Weigand is the president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a retail design agency that services customers by providing world class retail research, display, fixture, space planning, and interior design services. Visit http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com or call them at (330) 858-8926 to learn more.

Retailing: Putting the “Experience” in Retail Experience

I’m not afraid to admit it: I love shopping. I like parking, walking into a store, exploring and maybe even going home with a goodie or two. Shopping doesn’t even have to do with buying more stuff. Day dreaming in a store with an awesome retail experience can be fulfilling enough.

Anyway, so when the opportunity came to travel two hours south to Columbus for business, I made sure to schedule a stop at Cabela’s on the way home. Not only do they have awesome outdoor products, their retail experience is generally second to none.

Retail experience

The Columbus store is a relatively small one compared to others in this midwest based retail chain. Even smaller stores though benefit from their unique retail experience. They have real “store within a store” destinations including a den-like gun-room and bargain basement. I always enjoy taking a look at the large aquarium with native fish species represented inside, supplemented with informative signage. Behind the tank is a large “mountain” with stuffed animals (think taxidermy, not the things in your kid’s bedroom).

Hello beaver and mountain lion.

Exploring products

As with most stores I like to walk the outside “racetrack” then delve into each department. But first I made stop for lunch at the in-store cafe. I did not partake in the extensive offering of fudge, but I was delighted to sit and enjoy a smoked bison sandwich. It was really good, along with a side of potato salad. Sadly the potato salad was not made on-site.

Hunger satiated, I grabbed a shopping cart with the intent of picking up impromptu presents for the family. It was easy to find a variety of token needful things to take home: a compass, lip balm, a little bird whistle, even some jerky to snack on for the ride home. The selection was expansive and easy to navigate. For myself I scored an awesome rain coat on clearance. Each department has overhead signage, taking advantage of long sight-lines.

There are also a lot of associates who are willing to help out confused shoppers (i.e. me). As an aside, don’t forget that human beings are part of your shopping experience for guests. Make sure they understand your mission, are approachable and helpful. I had several dumb questions that were handled by store personnel with aplomb.

Omni-channel done effectively

Their catalog offers more products than you could ever put in a store of this size, so Cabela’s does a nice job of mating on-line with in-store shopping experiences. There are a half-dozen interactive kiosks peppered throughout the store. I took one for a test drive and found the familiar website experience supplemented with in-store specific options such as checking inventory, or even printing a ticket to help locate items in-store. Want something that isn’t available in store? Order it on the kiosk and get free shipping. I wonder if my item could beat me home if I was shopping further from home. Hmmm.

Cabela’s started out as a catalog merchant. As they moved into brick and mortar, retail experience has always been a foremost focus, and they’ve executed well in that light. Now as on-line and in-store start to meld it appears they’re able to leverage both areas of their expertise. As a retail designer it’s well worth a stop out to one of their stores to get inspired and get some ideas of how you can up the experience at retail. You may even go home with some jerky which isn’t a bad thing.

Check out the gallery below to see what we’re talking about.

Do you love shopping?

What are your favorite retail experiences?

Share in the comments below.

-Chris Weigand

Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a boutique retail design agency. He’s been creating experiences at retail for nearly 20 years. He’s been shopping for a lot longer than that. Visit their website at www.chrisweiganddesign.com for more information or to contact Chris. We welcome the chance to share our love of retail with you, and help create wonderful experiences for your guests. We don’t work for or endorse Cabela’s, we just like shopping there and other great retail stores. Buy your jerky wherever you’d like.

Visit Small Towns To Uncover Retail Gems

Look in any retail design trade publication and you’re presented with glamorous photographs of exotic retail locations sprinkled across the world’s largest metro areas. From big chains to small boutiques, seemingly if you want to see where it’s at in terms of retail design you’d better head downtown, or hop on a plane.

A recent vacation reminded me that you don’t have to travel to the big city to experience the best of retail. We spent our mid-summer family holiday in the town of Ellicottville in western New York state. It’s an international ski town that I’ve personally visited for the better part of thirty years; watching it adapt, evolve and grow. Despite the focus on winter, when the town is flooded by winter sport lovers from across the region (and Canada), it has grown into a vibrant summer scene also. And any time we’re in town we make a point of visiting the stores that line its main streets.

The village (part of the town by the same name) is very quaint and devoid of national chains. It’s a paradise for viewing independent retail up close and personal. Stores have come and gone through the years but vacancy isn’t too high right now so it is a great time to visit. There are several new stores to supplement the old standbys.

I took the time to visit most of the stores, and even talked to a few of the merchants to learn more about their awesome retail spaces. I suspect many of them are designing the stores themselves, and exciting those designs by the sweat of their own brow (one merchant said as much). Whether they do the work themselves, or hire someone (hint, hint) the key is knowing their brand and having that communicated in every way. Most of the stores we visited did this exceedingly well. As a retail designer I didn’t see much I would have done differently, and many things that I found beyond delight as a designer, and shopper.

Walking through the stores reminded me of how much I love shopping and retail environments. It made for a fun morning. An experience that can’t be replicated online. Nor is it easily translatable to mass retail.

So before you book your design team trip to New York City, San Francisco, London or wherever it is you go, consider driving through the countryside closer to home. There are a lot of great independent retailers creating really awesome retail experiences right in front of us.

Where are your favorite hole in the wall retail design haunts? Share in the comments below after enjoying the photos of Ellicottville.

 

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design, LLC

Chris Weigand Design is a full service professional retail design and branding consultancy. We work with companies of all sizes to design compelling design solutions that connect with customers. We love shopping, we love going out to stores and seeing what merchants are doing. We enjoy creating really awesome solutions for our clients. Contact us today at 330.858.8926 to find out how we can make your store a place that people love to shop.

Summer Fun – It’s About The Experience

After a long day of fun in the sun, visiting with family, we had the pleasure of stepping into a Tasty Time frozen yogurt shop in upstate New York last week.

The advent of “choose-your-own” frozen yogurt retailers is not lost on me. There was a time when after a hard week of work I’d take the team out for “fro-yo” to celebrate a job well done. In a corporate world beset with soul-crushing deadlines and cog-in-the-wheel tasks, the freedom of choosing one’s own flavors and toppings was liberating.  A Friday afternoon punctuation mark of limitless possibility was a treat indeed.

In case you don’t know how it works: you basically walk in, grab a cup, fill it with flavored frozen yogurt and dump a bunch of toppings on top. The store person weighs your culinary creation, you hand them money, you grab a spoon, you sit and realize why life is so awesome. The goal is to shoot for $5 (in the midwest at least). Spend any less and you really aren’t trying hard enough. Over, and you may have an indecision or self-control problem on your hands.

Oh well, problems can wait when you’re enjoying fro-yo.

Which brings us back to our trip to Tasty Time. As we sat there eating our yogurt, the Summer sun receding behind the mountains, the experience was very pleasant. It was more than getting “ice cream” with the family. The interior of the store was bright, colorful and inviting. Customers filtered in, went through the experience and sat enjoying their dessert. The owner came out to say “hello” and thank us for visiting. Our kids enjoyed counting alternating orange and white upholstered cube seats. There were cool looking lights and signs promoting various other delights beyond just frozen yogurt.

As we finished up the kids filled out neon colored index cards of thanks and pinned them up on a corner bulletin board. There was a sense of community.

It was all about the experience. The attention to detail was present throughout the store, from entry to exit, from beginning to end. Colors, textures, details all worked harmoniously. Even the bathroom was modern, clean and delightful.

The point is, if you have a store then please create an experience. Be mindful of your brand, create a brand message and make sure that message is communicated in EVERYTHING you do. Think not only about the physical space but the processes customers will experience when they visit. Our trip to Tasty Time wasn’t over the top, the experience was subtle, but it was effective.

It is about more than just selling a frozen treat. We left that night with a vacation memory that hopefully the kids will remember for a long time. I know I’ll treasure the experience. Not bad for five bucks.

 

-Chris Weigand

Chris is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design consultancy focused on helping retailers and product companies provide customers with an experience when they venture out to spend their hard earned cash. When he’s not designing or writing, Chris enjoys spending time with his family, eating frozen yogurt and exploring stores. Visit http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com to find out how they can help with your next project.

“Let Me Know If You Have Any Questions”

golf-shoes

“Let me know if you have any questions.”

As a shopper you hear that every so often from store associates when you visit a store, right? It’s part of the retail experience.

Recently I went shopping, on two occasions, for two specific items and my experience reminded me of an “area of opportunity” the in-store retail experience.

Goldie Locks And The Three Golf Shoe Stores

Father’s Day this year I had the opportunity to golf with my dad for the first time in nearly two years. I hadn’t touched a club in that time, but I knew that the soles were falling off my old golf shoes. So time to bite the bullet and buy new shoes. My only prerequisites in my mind were I like black, I like the Nike brand, and my budget was around $80.

I walked into the golf department of a sporting goods store (store “A” let’s say) and examined my footwear options.

“Let me know if you have any questions.” The store associate said.

Most of the time I politely say “thank you” and go back to browsing. But you know what, it’s been a while since I bought golf shoes, and I didn’t do any online research, so why not?”

“Hey, are there any trends in what people are buying in golf shoes? It’s been a while and I’m not sure…” I inquired, thinking this was a fair and honest question from my perspective as a guest.

The store associate looked dumbfounded.

I’m not sure what I expected. I’m not a sales person. Never have been. If it were me I’d probably go into which brands were selling the best and maybe an antidote or overview of something I read in a magazine to help my fellow human select a product.

“Um, yeah people just buy whatever they like…I guess.” (I paraphrase.)

“Ok. Thanks.” I went back to looking at the shoes by myself, tried on a pair and noted the price. Out the door I went.

Store “B” was a golf store. I went in and was quickly hit with a polite: “Let me know if there’s anything we can help you with” as I prowled the golf shoe area. They were having some sort of district sales meeting on site it seemed, so I had a flurry of sales associates ready to pounce on me at the mere hint of a question. The problem was their pricing. For similar or same shoes, as the first store, their pricing was too high for my budget. The selection was good, just canted too high for my liking. Onto store three without even a question…

Last, but not least, store “C” was also a golf store. Their pricing and selection were great, and I even found the pair of black Nike Air golf shoes I wanted for around $80; not as cheap as store “A” but they were close and in the right color. (If you can’t golf good, look good, I say). I tried on the shoes; walking around the department in them. Felt comfortable, and I looked stunning.

Shoes on, I made my trend inquiry when asked by a store associate “let me know if you have any questions”. Amazingly we had a great conversation, not even a sales pitch. We talked about my shoe needs, some of the most popular brands, new technology and even her other job as a golf instructor. I was happy with the selection, pricing, merchandising AND the associate experience. Their reward was my hard-earned cash in exchange for a shiny new pair of shoes. I even impulse bought some golf balls based on their recommendation after I inquired.

We Just Need A Mattress

The other recent shopping endeavor was for our little guy: he’s ready for a twin bed, so we needed a mattress, box spring, frame; the whole nine yards. This time we did our homework online and decided to goto a well-known department store who was running a sale.

We drove out to the store, and were informed that we’d have to goto another location that actually sells mattresses. Ugh, a slight convenience but we were bent on getting a mattress so we hopped back in the car.

On the way we decided to cross shop a mattress only retailer, out of curiosity.

What an awful experience. They had a ton of mattresses and we were soon approached by an associate.

“How can I help you?”

We explained our need: a twin mattress set, don’t want to spend too much but don’t want garbage either.

“What’s your budget?” inquired the salesman.

“Around $250 max.” I replied.

He then proceeded to show us one mattress that cost $350. I was the one who had to walk over and check out the $199 mattress set on my own. Complete and utter “used-car-salesman” tactics. I’ll spare you all the gory details. Suffice to say I will never, ever, ever in a million, billion years subject myself to that archaic form of “customer service” or salesmanship again if I can avoid it.

High tailing it out of there we ended up in the mattress department of the big department store we originally intended on going to. We found ourselves looking at a long row of queen beds with rectangular signs on them. Pricing for mattresses is crazy high. Our budget was $250 for mattress and box spring. All the ones on display were high end mattresses, and only a few were even available in twin. We hunted down a sales associate who was more than happy to sell us a $2,000 mattress but had little knowledge beyond that. I deduced that ordering online was the only option from this retailer.

“I could order it for you here, online, if you’d like” the associate sadly offered. At this point the associate had been rendered useless.

As a side note, naively I just assumed you can goto the store, buy a mattress and bring it home. Nope.

Onto the next stop – another department store in the mall. A store whose product and pricing we did not research. By then we were beaten down and just wanted it all to be over with. What we found was a pleasant associate who gladly showed us a few options in our price range. The associate was educated about the products, had good opinions and represented the interests of her merchant valiantly. My wife was able to ask pointed questions and receive knowledgable answers. The kids were able to test out the mattresses easily. Info-graphics and displays were easy to understand.

Everyone won.

We ordered a set for around $179. We had no choice but to pay for home delivery for an additional $75 but we didn’t care at that point. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel. And we’ll just order the bed frame online; the department store wanted over $80 which was a bit too steep at double a reasonable price.

Conclusion

Guests and customers remember bad retail experiences more so than good ones. They often do their homework, so they may not need help in-store. And sometimes they do require or want help, like I did in the examples above. Focus on every aspect of your business to assure customers don’t leave your store disenchanted. Make sure the faces of your brand know your brand, products and the marketplace, otherwise why bother wasting money on payroll (or displays, or fancy interiors), right?

No matter how great your products, brand, pricing or physical store is, if customer service and sales are part of the equation, they need to be top-notch as well to compete in today’s marketplace. Otherwise, shoppers are just going to goto another store or shop online.

What are your retail experience horror stories?

Where have you experienced great customer service when shopping?

Share theses and other thoughts on the topic in the comments below. Thanks.

-Chris

Chris Weigand Design, LLC is a full service retail design consultancy. We love shopping and think holistically about the retail shopping experience including customer service. Contact us today so we can help make paying customers happy with your brand at retail. We help product brands, independent retailers, and large retailers with trend research, merchandising and retail design from concept to production. www.chrisweiganddesign.com

Retail Display Technology Horror Show

With a nod to Friday the 13th, let me take a moment to mention something that scares me when it comes to retail design: technology at retail, specifically video monitors.

Now before you roll your eyes and write me off as some sort of pre-historic relic, let me explain. I actually love the idea of interacting with shoppers via the latest technology. What scares me is how retailers, marketers and manufacturers arrive at, and execute, what seemingly is a simple “no-brainer”.

Here’s what happens: everyone gets together and figures out that they have to do something different for a display or their store. They see article after article that the internet is pounding the snot out of brick-and-mortar stores. They see people flocking to the latest social media site du jour. Guests are seemingly surgically attached to their smart phones.

What is a retailer, brand or marketing company to do?

At the tail end of the creative brief they throw in this line:

“include design concepts with a monitor”

Erm, okay.

That’s what scares me.

“Make the display purple like our brand, make it 72″ tall and make sure it has wheels. Oh and add a random monitor in there, ’cause that will solve a lot of problems.”

Um, nope.

This reeks of an un-thought-through (I made that up) tactical approach that is often thrown in by some random person (owner, marketing, salesman, design director, intern…).  Pro tip: throwing monitors at the problem is not part of a fundamental, comprehensive, marketing strategy.

So, before you go off the deep end, and waste a ton of money, here are my unscientific tips for putting monitors (and technology) at retail.

1) Please, Please, Please, Have A Purpose

Monitors cost a lot of money and use a lot of resources. Just because the internet uses video and bejeweled buttons, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Ask yourself why do you need a monitor? How does it fit into your marketing strategy and brand? Who will look at it? If it’s interactive, who will interact with it? Is it worth the cost and complexity?

Do not, do not, do not EVER just put a line item on the creative brief that says – “oh, show us some monitor concepts too” with nothing to back up the rationale.

Otherwise, use large format graphics and creative merchandising to get more bang for your buck.

2) It’s Like A Pet, Who’s Going To Take Care Of It?

We all see it. All the time. Brand XYZ comes out with an awesome new display made by world-renowned Design Firm ABC. It’s got lights, monitors, and $200K worth of lasers and holograms selling ice to Eskimos. Every trade publication and industry association fawns all over it. Salesmen crack the champagne and it’s rumored there’s even a Hollywood movie in the works…

Three months later guests are looking at a static image of the brand logo, waiving their arms fruitlessly in front of an 72″ vertical monitor, in an effort to “try on” clothes. Or the brand message changes and no one even bothers to plug-in a new USB drive to download the update. Eventually the monitor ends up in some district manager’s basement in time for the Super Bowl.

Pass the salsa.

Hey guys, what seems like a good idea during the design phase equals a lot of care and feeding down the road.

Nothing says you’re out of touch like technology that no longer works at retail.

3) Are Committed To Doing It Right?

You know, you’ve got this cool video monitor with all this technology, are you going to actually use it? Or are you just throwing it out there because the guys selling bread in the next aisle have a monitor?

Do not, I repeat, do not just put your logo on the screen, with a slide show of random products. Every time you do that, god kills a somebody with a Marketing MBA.

Understand your guests’ wants and needs. Take the time to do your research; find out what their frustrations are, how technology can help, AND attract them. Then spend the money on comprehensive graphic design, programming, and industrial design to make it look like you care about your brand, the retailer and guests.

Please, design the user experience (like real humans are going to use the technology by the way) and trouble shoot it before you go live.

4) Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Product

Some businesses need this technology at retail; video game console companies for example. What kind of monster doesn’t like stopping at Best Buy to race through the Alps on an Xbox?

If you’re selling thumbtacks in a hardware store, I’m not sure you need a monitor. But maybe… Please have a compelling reason to put wires, glass and metal on a shelf front.

Time is a consumer’s most precious commodity. Information their greatest need at retail. Help them make informed decisions, and make them fall in love with your shopping experience. They want to be entertained, but they are savvy enough to know if you’re wasting their time.

Alright, I think you get the idea. Below are some random images I pulled from my personal archive with my thoughts.

Just to be safe though, I think I’ll avoid going to retail this Friday the 13th, if it’s all the same to you.

Do you agree? Disagree? Who does tech at retail right? What are the worst examples you’ve seen? How can we improve the retail experience with technology?

Continue the discussion in the comments below.

-Chris

Chris Weigand Design, LLC is a full service retail design consultancy who is more than happy to design your next display or store, with or without monitors, lasers and holograms. We want to help make the emotional connection between your brand and guests in the physical retail space. And have fun doing it.

Contact us today at (330) 858-8926 or visit www.chrisweiganddesign.com for more information.