I was talking with the owner of a sign shop recently, and we got to talking about new technologies that sign and display companies were starting to utilize—I was thinking specifically of EFI’s SmartSign Analytics—but he happened to mention other new technologies such as “smart fitting rooms” whereby sensors in a clothing retailer’s fitting room mirror track RFID tags on the clothing you brought in to try on and suggests accessories or complementary items. Sound creepy? It does a bit, doesn’t it?
Wide-format printers should pay close attention to trends in retail, as point of purchase (POP) and retail graphics are lucrative work for many display graphics producers. To that end, Chain Store Age had a listicle in early January that identified four retail trends to keep an eye on. As e-commerce grows, and more and more retailers make it easy to buy stuff online or via mobile apps, those same retailers are now finding they need to crowbar consumers off their devices and get down to a physical store. (It reminds me of when Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook, their ebook reader. B&N employees whom I knew told me that they were constantly being exhorted by corporate to “push the Nook, push the Nook” and that had the effect of severely reducing in-store foot traffic, since those who did buy the Nook subsequently bought their ebooks online.)
So some of the retail trends that Chain Store Age identifies are those designed to draw consumers away from their mobile devices and head to a retail location (more likely they’ll be taking their mobile devices with them). So “theme park-ifying” is one trend they identify:
large-format seekers should look to New York and Chicago’s Eataly for inspiration. Sometimes likened to a grocery store with tasting rooms, the Italian food and wine emporium offers a compelling mix of retail, restaurants, food and beverage stations, a bakery and cooking schools, all under one roof. Such themed and curated shopping experiences are precisely the types of brick-and-mortar concepts that can inspire people to close their MacBook Pros, get off the couch and drive to the mall.
There is also “side-selling” which is basically integrating some degree of retail into another, more service oriented business. Think of the bookstore that has a coffee bar, gym that sells vitamins or apparel, and the like.
Another trend that may prove helpful for wide-format, sign, and display providers is that more and more major retail shops are rebranding—which means all new graphics.
Retail doesn’t mean only big box stores or even national chains; there are plenty of still-healthy local chains or even “mom-and-pop” shops that could also benefit from these things. And as graphics experts, it gives you a good opportunity to help them adapt to the changing world of retail.