"Digitalization is essential for capturing the new experience"
"Zur Eroberung des neuen Erlebens ist die Digitalisierung nicht mehr wegzudenken"
Interview with Klaus Lach, CEO at VMM
An exciting shopping experience is a great shopping experience. What makes it so great? Mainly the kind of presentation at the POS. That’s why digital technologies find more and more areas of application with which retailers can turn shopping into an experience. Klaus Lach, Vice President of the European Visual Marketing Merchandising Association (VMM), talks about the dramatization at the POS, stores that seem to be able to do without products and the creative battle for the customer.
Mr. Lach, visual merchandising more and more turns into digital merchandising. In what areas of the POS is this change particularly noticeable?
Klaus Lach: So far, retailers still predominately address customers with display windows and at the point of sale by using posters, displays and other eye-catchers. Yet the sensory overload in the media causes these traditional static advertising mediums to have an increasingly tougher time to compete.
New interesting presentation platforms that inform and entertain the consumer are increasingly taking hold. They are described by the term digital signage. These more innovative alternatives are all about the use of digital media content with special advertising and information systems. The digitalization can be felt in every area of the POS; the question is how digital technology can be brought into the stores.
Online retail affects the brick-and-mortar business the same way the Internet and social media influence store design and consumer behavior. A realistic approach and shopping apps create a new online shopping experience. In-store digital technology has to be provided with merchandising information that is borrowed from online esthetics. In the brick-and-mortar business, it is sometimes necessary to offer consumers a chance to retreat into the digital world.
Experts consider digital presentation types the “lifesaver of the POS". What do you think of this statement?
Lach: The POS doesn’t need to be saved, because it will always be around. It is our job to revitalize and stir up emotion at the POS with innovative ideas. We create the necessary dramatization at the POS with extraordinary ideas. Multichannel retailing provides new ways of staging with the required digital platforms.
Where is digital merchandising particularly well implemented in your opinion?
Lach: I know of several examples. Among them is Yihaodian, the largest e-commerce food supplier in China for instance, which launches 1,000 virtual supermarkets nationwide under the brand name “Unlimited Yihaodian". There are no billboards, just empty stores with 1,200 square meters where product items are shown on display walls. You shop with your Smartphone, while the products are delivered to your home. Clippings.com or fallingforyou.target show products via video and invite people to click on the items. At Deskontalia in San Sebastian, customers can order products online during the day and pick them up personally at night.
What format do these digital retail installations currently have?
Lach: Plasma or LCD monitors, which convey campaign or product information, are placed in the display windows for instance. Service terminals at escalators or elevators serve as directories. So-called interactive kiosks are also increasingly being used. Customers get audiovisual information about store products and services at these terminals either on their own or with the help of sales personnel. They can interactively obtain product advice, pay at the terminal or give product reviews for instance.
Combining offline and online activities is also an option, since customers can also directly order at the online store. You can also connect with the online store, when the selected advertising medium displays QR codes that link to the store‘s website.
How can retailers and merchandisers use these new types of presentations for their own purposes?
Lach: The retailer or visual marketing designer gets ready to battle for the consumer. Digital marketing provides them with unusual marketing strategies in unusual spaces. This livens up entire shopping districts and turns them into entertaining attractions. Impulse buys are strongly promoted through this high information and entertainment factor. This is why the future belongs to the so-called “My Beautiful Store“. This trend leads us into the world of creative brick-and-mortar retail, which is a master at staging a unique shopping experience. Digitalization is essential for capturing the new experience.
This year you are presenting yourself at the EuroShop 2014 with the VMM. What can we expect?
Lach: The EuroShop has become the trend indicator in visual marketing. It provides the ideal backdrop for the introduction and exchange of new ideas as well as for the set up of networks. On more than 750 square meters of space, the VMM and the FH Düsseldorf are going to deliver new insights into the Retail Design Labor (“Retail Design Lab”). Lectures on the future of retail design and an extensive program including expert lectures, case studies and presentations complete the program.
Interview: Natascha Mörs; EuroShop First publication at iXtenso.com