According to Katie Kolchiek from Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. and writing for Digital Signage Today, it is no surprise to see innovative brands implementing unique elements into their merchandising programmes. Not only does technology offer data collection capabilities, but incorporating entertaining components excites shoppers and encourages discovery. 

There was a time when experiential merchandising displays broke the mould with simple video loops or motion sensors, prompting audio call-to-actions. Building on the groundwork of these features, many of today’s interactive retail displays go even further with original ideas to showcase and demo products.

Merchandising displays with touchscreens

Because the technology is well-established and widely used today, some brands have enhanced merchandising displays with touchscreens to give shoppers a hands-on experience. Uses often include shopping an endless aisle, looking up additional product information or customising merchandise.

A global manufacturer of paints, coatings, and specialty materials, PPG, recognised the benefit of incorporating a touchscreen into its paint chip display when it launched its current ‘Voices of Color’ retail programme.

Customers can use the interactive retail display to:

– Scan paint chips and view the color selections in a variety of environments and placements.
– Discover complementary colour recommendations.
– Email or save favorites that can later be pulled up on a device at home.
– The successful display program continues to help shoppers today at stores nationwide.

When online goes offline

Omnichannel, phygital, call it what you want. The point is, we’re pretty attuned to the process of spreading our shopping experience across a variety of platforms now. And with consumers eager to resume in-store shopping as the pandemic wanes, once-digital brands are ramping up partnerships with traditional brick-and-mortars to reach a larger group of customers.

Displays for digital native brands like Grove, Birchbox and many more are securing shelf space at established retailers, and they’re aiming for impact. Grove’s launch features an exclusive scent only found at Target stores, and Birchbox lets Walgreens shoppers build their own curated beauty box by choosing five samples from an assortment. Countless more have captivated shoppers with pop-up shops, Instagram-worthy spaces and brand experiences.

In an article by Luxe Digital called ‘Retail Renaissance: How Digital Native Brands are Redefining the Store Experience,’ author Florine Eppe Beauloye states, ‘From mobile checkout with digital payment methods to augmented reality applications, interactive displays, voice recognition and social media integration, new technologies are being embraced by retailers to bridge the online and in-store shopping experience and make it as seamless and friction-free as possible.’

As these relationships continue to flourish, watch for more experiential merchandising displays from these brands to capitalise on the customer’s comfort level with interaction and digital channels.

Above and beyond with interactive retail displays

As brands compete to design displays that personalise the consumer experience, sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to capture attention. This can look like fantastic storytelling, employing tech features, or simply going beyond a basic push button or video loop.

GE Lighting did just that with its recent LED+ program to highlight the various capabilities of its specialty bulbs.

The display allows customers to press buttons to create different scenarios. In one demo, pressing and holding the knob plays music through a lightbulb. In another, the demonstration shows a bulb adjusting from daytime to nighttime lighting. The last demo generates a fake lightning storm that causes the power to go out. After the light box goes dark, the lightbulb pops back on to highlight the battery backup feature.

When investing in a display program, consider how to showcase your products to help consumers better understand their features or functions. Along with impactful messaging, demonstrating merchandise in a fresh way not only encourages shopper education, but also helps create a memorable experience.

Future interactive display features

Retail displays continue to evolve, and the future holds exciting technology for brands looking to push the envelope.

While augmented reality is not new, building it into merchandising displays is still in its infancy. In the coming years, though, we’ll likely see more implementation — and a welcome adoption. Thanks to popular apps that use AR like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, a coming generation of shoppers will have no problem pulling out their mobile devices for the in-store technology.

We’re already seeing augmented reality online from big name e-commerce sites that help customers visualise products or furniture in their homes. So don’t be surprised when it starts showing up in stores as helpful avenues to indicate a promotion, emphasise product features, or perform other endless possibilities.

In addition, camera analytics will become an increasing presence on shelves and displays as brands use the service to personalise digital messaging and gain real-time customer data.

Picture a retail display that uses AI to alter its branding and imagery based on the demographics of the customer who approaches.

With video analytics, brands can also pinpoint what merchandise is drawing attention, what messaging is working for different age groups and more. The insight can help brands tailor other aspects of their marketing from traditional advertising to brand ambassador partnerships. Essentially, in-store customers can help provide a wealth of data to brands looking to analyse shopping behaviors.

In general, all retail displays are an important component of a successful marketing plan, calling attention to a brand’s products and building a loyal customer base. Additionally, interactive features that both excite and inform can go even further to set a business apart from its competition. And with interactive retail displays of the future, technology will play a substantial role in providing a personalised and educational experience.

This article appears in Digital Signage Today.