Retailers and mall developers are coming to the conclusion that their future success depends, in large part, on transforming shopping outlets into shopping destinations that offer unique experiences customers can’t find online. These new retail destinations need to speak the language of the digital generation, while offering sensory experiences that only exist in physical spaces.
More and more, designers and developers are using integrated audiovisual experiences to create environments that make memorable brand statements, showcasing products and surrounding shoppers with experiences they can't get at home or through their mobile devices.
What does it take to turn a store into an audiovisual destination? Here's what a few leading brands are doing:
Studio Xfinity, Chicago: Keeping Customers Entertained
Comcast is in the entertainment business. So when it opened a new flagship store, ESI Design helped them create engagement with an audiovisual wonderland – more than 800 square feet of LED screens, large-scale media installations, tablets and touchscreens. In three studios, dominated by 15-by-9-foot screens and theater-style seating, visitors play games and participate in live demos by sales associates. Giant media towers demonstrate how to use Xfinity products, and casual seating and a coffee bar encourage lingering. This is not your grandfather's cable store – it's a multimedia destination.
Nike Flagship Store, New York: Bringing the Outside World Inside
Nike also has a flagship store, a multilevel experience in New York City. Here, immersive audiovisual experiences put customers in virtual environments as they try out athletic products. In the Nike+ Running Trial Zone, consumers test running shoes on treadmills, surrounded by LED screens that display popular New York running routes, including Central Park and the West Side Highway. In addition, consumers can run with virtual Nike Pacers and get real-time, on-screen feedback. On the top floor is an actual half-sized basketball court for testing basketball shoes. Surrounded by high-definition screens, consumers are immersed in the sights and sounds of two iconic New York playground courts: Dyckman Park in Washington Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
More traditional audiovisual technology throughout the store helps customers research and select products, but it’s the incorporation of AV experiences – bringing the outside world inside the store – that leads to powerful, personal customer journeys that can’t be found online. Nike plans to roll out such experiences to the rest of its 1000 stores.
Liberty Center, Cincinnati: Turning Industrial Architecture Into Digital Wonder
At a converted industrial facility north of Cincinnati, multidisciplinary AV design studio Float4 integrated audiovisual elements throughout the space to digitize the shopping experience. On the rooftop, The Beacon beckons. This LED-clad factory stack announces far and wide that Liberty Center is no ordinary outdoor mall. Other digital experiences continue this theme. Inside the central Foundry building, The Forge, a large-scale LED display integrated above an active hearth, creates a warm and welcoming gathering point. Sometimes it appears to be just another architectural element of the former warehouse, displaying a façade of digital bricks. Then suddenly, it bursts into life with audiovisual content and dynamic imagery that wows passersby. These and other audiovisual features help turn an old-school mall into a forward-looking destination for today's shoppers.
As technology becomes more flexible and powerful, retailers and malls can make audiovisual experiences the focus of their designs, not afterthoughts, thereby transforming themselves from a shopping location to a retail destination. No longer constrained by rectangular screens, a new generation of designers and architects is creating compelling experiences for today’s digitally oriented shoppers. The more they succeed, the more the future of retail is assured.
Brad Grimes is Director of Communications for AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. AVIXA represents the $178 billion global commercial AV industry and produces InfoComm trade shows around the world. For more about audiovisual solutions in retail, visit avixa.org/retailAV.