Tackling the threat posed to traditional retail by Internet shopping, FutureBrand argues that website design must increasingly inform and inspire interior design. It suggests that traditional retailers can learn from their rivals, creating personalised in-store brand experiences with the use of digital technology.Our take:
'There is no time to spare - the balance is shifting towards on-line retail sales, away from bricks-and-mortar shopping,' says FutureBrand head of branded environments, Paul Bretherton. 'Digital technology can help to turn that around.
FutureBrand is currently working on a mobile phone retail concept for a Middle East telecommunications company called Zain, which is due to open in August. When Zain's customers pick up a phone, they will automatically activate a screen which allows them to view and customise the product and service. FutureBrand is terming the integration of digital technology into retail and other branded environments '4D'.
As digital shopping assistants bring us back round to the levels of personalisation once offered by human beings, it seems that good service could be the ultimate winner.
- Bricks-and-mortar stores such as Nokia and O2 are increasingly incorporating digital and virtual technology
- E-commerce operators are moving into personalised service, traditionally the preserve of bricks-and-mortar retailers
- Entertainment retailer Amazon.com expresses ambitions to be 'the earth's most customer-centric brand'
- Ebay alters the appearance of its Web pages to match the level of experience of the user
There's a strong push in retail marketing and design to bring the strong points of e-commerce into the bricks-and-mortar world, both as a way to compete against Internet salesmen, and also as a way to differentiate such enabled chains with those who haven't yet jumped on the integration bandwagon.
Clearly, many retailers are implementing digital signage networks, interactive kiosk terminals, and even mobile content sites with hopes that tech-savvy shoppers will realize that the advantages of shopping at an electronically-enabled brick-and-mortar store outweigh the simplicity and ease of shopping at home online.