Retailers take in-store marketing to the next level (Column)

In-store marketers are in a mission critical position. In 2015, the retail climate is no longer on a path of slow and steady evolution, and incremental innovation isn’t going to cut it as a Plan A. The largest retailers around the world are scrambling to keep up and being on the Fortune 500 list is no longer a guarantee you’ll be relevant in the next five years.

While it’s true that ecommerce is biting into the bottom line of brick-and-mortar, in-store marketers are introducing what people love about shopping online. They’re bringing convenience, instant gratification and the public’s general love of new and novel technology into stores, and consumers are following. And some of them are doing it with the next generation of projectors.

Based on the popularity of retail stories on, we’ve identified a trend that we call “In-Store Projected,” high-tech displays that create interactive experiences for shoppers in store. Interactive projectors are becoming more advanced and brands are using them to not only bring more people into the stores, but further engage them while they’re there. The technology allows consumers to get more information on whatever they touch, and interact with the product in a more immersive manner that only online shopping has mastered en masse.

Kate Spade, for example, partnered with Perch, a projection system that lights display surfaces and allows consumers to discover new things about the products they touch. In an interview with WWD, Kate Spade’s chief marketing officer Mary Beech said, “Our stores are great expressions of the brand, but we were looking for an opportunity to bring content to life.” Perch did exactly that by projecting animated images on display counters that moved and reacted to the consumer’s position and the product they picked up using optical sensors. Touching a shoe might show you videos of that shoe on the runway, and touching a purse might pop up live feeds of social media buzz around the brand.

The Journal of Consumer Research at the University of Chicago Press claims touching a product makes consumers 40% to 60% more likely to purchase, so it’s no wonder Perch reported “higher sell-through for products on the table [that were Perch-enabled].”

While it’s true the fashion industry has been quicker to accept technology as a part of an in-store marketing strategy (throw back to the 2012 DVF runway show where every model wore Google Glass down the runway), many other industries are starting to jump aboard this brick-and-mortar life raft. One example of this is is a retailer that looks to offer great quality and well-designed furniture at a more affordable price. Think of them like the Zara of the furniture world. They have a showroom in London, but constantly changing displays can be a pain and not all of their products can be purchased in-store. Some are offered only as online exclusives. The challenge to show all of the options to consumers without having to physically have them all present in the showroom posed a challenge. They took this on by combining some of their offerings physically with their online offerings projected alongside the mock living spaces. The retail displays changed frequently to show how different accents or lighting could change the look and feel of the space and each projection was paired with further details about the product.

Similar technology by Vizera has been used to help consumers see furniture they’re looking to purchase in different colours and textures using smart projection technology. No more flipping through endless samples, trying to imagine what the end product could look like.

What these retailers and technology companies have shown us is brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay, but only those that are really listening and engaging with their consumers will be here for the long haul.

Shelby Walsh is president at Toronto-based Trend Hunter, an online trend community and research company.

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