A recent article released by NACS magazine quotes a store designer, underscoring a trend we’ve all witnessed over the past few years: “Customers can now buy everything online. Even convenience stores need to step up their game to get people to come in.”

What does “stepping up the game” mean for the retail industry going forward? In a word, experience. Customers want what they can’t get online: Something that engages any number of their 5 senses, something beyond the repetitious clicking of a mouse or tapping on a screen.

So, what does that mean for those of us who create and manufacture displays that fill the retail space? As always, the new emphasis presents challenges and opportunities.

  1. The client may not be satisfied with displays that do nothing but hold the product. For many clients, it’s time to look beyond basic wood or metal gondolas/racking. Tactile materials and shapes, light, color, motion, sound: These will be the new baseline going forward.
  2. Customers are more accommodating of displays with added value.   Customers visit stores by choice now, not by default as in the past, and as such, they’re more primed to savor the experience they’ve chosen. Customers live out this intentionality through time taken to interact with a touchscreen, or patience to download an app, in pursuit of a more meaningful retail experience.
  3. Integration between display and store environment is key. Now, more than ever, it’s important to consider the store environment in which a display will be placed, in the interest of creating a holistic experience for the customer. What materials and/or finishes does the retailer use? What are the sightlines? How will the display be approached? It will be increasingly imperative to work closely with retailer branding teams to ensure the display and its surroundings pull together, maximizing the customer’s feeling of immersion in the store environment.

Brick-and-mortar retail isn’t going anywhere. The retail display creators poised to harness customers’ shift in priorities will inevitably be the most successful as our world becomes increasingly digitized.

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