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NanoLumens on utilising tech to create ‘experience shopping’

Matt Nurre, VP of global retail at NanoLumens, reveals more about experience shopping and how it’s the only way bricks and mortar retailers can compete with online shopping and the Amazon behemoth.

When it comes to digital signage, what are the differences between the retail markets around the world?

If you look at the US, Canada, and Australia, these countries have exponentially more retail per square foot per capita, than the rest of the countries around the world. But brands have spent big in the last 10-15 years, creating what many have said is an ‘over-stored’ environment. With the recent closings and downsizing of major brands, there is massive transformation happening to a more experiential shopping environment.

Shopper behaviour is also quite different depending on the part of the world. For example, the use of technology in the UAE and China is more integrated than in India and even locations around the US. Take for example the destination malls in Dubai that are not only filled with the latest and greatest digital display but also activities such as indoor skiing! Companies like Westfield here in the United States are taking full advantage of this new experience transformation and hiring specialists like Cirque Du Soleil to create a new level of experience and entertainment venue to co-exist within the shopper journey; creating interactions more closely resembling the growth we have seen in hospitality and destination shopping.

Are we now in the era of ‘experience shopping’, where retailers have to offer something extra?

Absolutely – every retailer we have been speaking to is discussing ‘experience’. The belief is that only those retailers who differentiate themselves in today’s Amazon world will succeed. The experience must be born from the brand promise and reach to every touch point the brand has from online to in-store; we believe digital display is a great feature and component of this plan. For the fastest growing retailers, this surprise and delight mentality is a core belief that resonates every aspect of the business. We are proud to have partnered with retailers such as AT&T, Holt Renfrew and Sport Chek who have taken this initiative to heart and are creating destination experiences that only they can.

Do you think the retail sector is more open to innovative approaches to technology than other markets such as corporate?

Retailers today have to be open to innovative approaches or be left behind like the Blockbusters of the world. Typically, retail has been open to innovating faster when it comes to shopper technology but there is still a far way to go. With such a fragmented customer journey, one where the customer leads the way, retailers must present a single version of the truth – a consistency across all channels and touch points. The in-store technology is simply an extension of what the customer has already seen online, through social media or through her emails and it can act as the finishing touch to a long journey or another touch point in the data story. No matter the content, it must deliver on the brand promise and experience.

How keen are retailers to embrace cutting-edge display configurations?

The fact is, most retailers are competing with the Amazon behemoth and experience is the one place they can make a line in the sand for differentiation. Right now is the time for transformation and so most retailers are very keen to incorporate technologies from a variety of sources. The challenge is to not bring in technology for the sake of technology and that’s why the ‘smart’ side of digital display is so important. Retailers have access to more customer data than just about anyone and it is a precious resource. Understanding this data and being able to capitalise on it across the omnichannel journey is the next step in this transformation. From beacons and RFIDs to facial recognition and audience analytics, this information tied to previous and existing customer data will be the differentiator and survival of the top brands. Today’s shopper is willing to forego privacy for an experience or convenience, retailers need to capitalise.

Tell us about a recent installation project that highlights NanoLumen’s expertise in the retail sector.

In partnership with our digital partners at Max Media, we helped to launch AT&T’s newest flagship location in San Francisco at One Powell. This historic location brings the past and future together in a new experience created purely for the tech savvy San Francisco audience and AT&T‘s commitment to the area and a connected world. The large format 4mm pixel pitch curved display is 48ft wide, 6ft tall and lightweight enough to sit 40 plus feet off the ground. The 3D content was created to work dynamically in its environment and change based on the ambient sound. Able to withstand bright daylight, the non-faceted, curved display is a high impact, experience driven component in the larger AT&T story.