Creating a virtual shopping experience unlike anything available online was the thrust behind this bespoke in-store format.
LDN19 is online sports retailer Pro-Direct’s first physical store and flagship brand centre. Located in central London it utilises a mixture of HD, 4K and fibre optic technology to create a virtual shopping experience and unique ‘customer journey’.
The end result is a shopping experience billed as like “walking in to a website”, where customers can experience the ‘monolith’ of limited edition and signed football boots as well as the world’s largest boot room. Other features include interactive touch podiums that display information, images and videos. The touch podiums downstairs also control C-Touch Leddura 84in ‘digital mannequins’, allowing shoppers to choose outfits that are then displayed on a life-size video catwalk.
The project’s inception began when Vivid Digital Retail was approached by Green Room Retail to create a compelling shopping experience that combined digital, virtual and physical.
The initial brief for the project was to create a bespoke format which would allow Pro-Direct to realise its goals in a physical format.
“The only review that we took was operationally the store had to be able to be managed by the client,” explains Paul O’Reilly, MD of Vivid Digital Retail. “We were able to hand over a live store format where the client controls lighting, audio, content management, very simply all within their current workflow.”
On a journey
Vivid worked with Green Room and Pro-Direct to map out the ‘customer journey’ before selecting the digital assets that could deliver it.
With Pro-Direct’s main hub of business online, Vivid looked at how to best manage the link between the online and physical stores. It trialled Sharp’s LL-S201A 20in display in standard HD and then compared it to the Sharp PN-K322BH 32in display in 4K. “It was a no-brainer once the client saw the 4K usage and rendering,” says O’Reilly.
This meant repurposing the website, O’Reilly adding: “A thumbnail that looks good on a website won’t necessarily look good on a display.”
The higher resolution is one factor, another is the hierarchical, linear nature of most websites. The website information displayed on the touch podiums needed to be non-linear and easy to navigate. The digital podiums would only be feasible with drastically improved functionality and expanded navigation ability, and the ‘one-up’ webpage needed to be redesigned, which O’Reilly believes heralds a new era of shopper-browsing. “We wrote that paradigm by going up to the 4K Multi-Touch screen from Sharp and we leveraged that with the whole change of format.”
To transmit the higher-resolution content, Vivid chose a variety of fibre optic switchers and matrix switchers at a frame rate of 30Hz. Additionally, Atlona switchers provide IR remote control as well as extending HDMI and DVI sources up to 100m at 1080p. Other extenders used from Lightware go up to 4K resolution all at 30Hz. Vivid will also look to upgrade to 60Hz in the future, as 4K transmission develops.
The motivation in setting up a physical store was in part so Pro-Direct could realise some ambitious ideas, such as the ‘monolith’ of boots starting on the top level and leading downstairs. This in-store centrepiece is backlit and features limited edition and signed football boots. The Pro-Direct staff can change the lighting colour instantly via remote devices. This feeds into the idea of creating a customer experience and not just a 3D advertisement for the brand.
“If you’ve made a journey to the high street, I think you want an experience,” says O’Reilly.
Another element of the physical store, which would not have the same impact viewed through a browser, is the Pro-Direct Presents showcases, which are scheduled to coincide with the launch of a new boot. Pro-Direct Presents feature the new product and can cover anything from a small section of the store up to the complete top level. With launches happening every few days, Pro-Direct has to regularly reconfigure the store to showcase new items as well as manage promotional events with sponsored footballers.
The usability of the solutions is key to facilitating rapid format changes and allowing any of the in-store staff or head office to implement theme changes to coincide with brand launches without technical supervision.
One of those responsible for operating the new format is brand comms executive Ned Ozkasim: “We really wanted to push the boundaries of what ‘retail’ is and LDN19 is just the start of our journey. We hope to bring this unique football experience to key cities across the globe in the coming years.”