Project protocols have their place in business, but try as they might, our customers can’t evaluate the total value of retail solutions, from a components list. Nor can they simply look at design alternatives to make their choice. There is so much more to self-service in-store merchandising than meets the eye or the spreadsheet.
Scrutiny of the physical merchandising, the user experience, the project partner that enables it and their understanding of a rapidly evolving retail environment are imperative to making the right project decision.A completed kiosk or interactive display solution is more than the sum of its components, the shape of its enclosure, or the user experience of its software application. The value of a well designed solution encompasses a process, a product, and performance. With that brief introduction, any evaluation of self-service, interactive merchandising should include these five critical aspects:
1) A proven development process greatly enhances your chance of success.
A sound process leads to a viable product and the best chance of achieving the desired business outcome for an in-store merchandising solution. A good in-store merchandising design partner uses a proven approach that is creative, responsive at every point, and thorough in attention to detail and engagement. The management of an interactive project requires responsiveness that balances the objectives of the brand, desires of the retailer, and value to the end user. The integration of an interactive project requires coordination and cooperation across suppliers and partners that take into account the needs of all three parties. It is important to confirm from the beginning how this balancing act will be achieved.
2) The communication of the branding message is a critical aspect of acceptance or failure of a solution.
The product is made up of the quality of its components and the message it carries about the brand or retailer. Kiosks and interactive merchandising do not stand alone; they are designed to be an integral part of a cohesive strategy and embody the look and feel of a larger marketing program. An experienced in-store merchandising partner is attuned to the fact that the design and promise of a solution creates the initial call to action for the consumer that is key to trial of the solution and ultimately success.
3) The understanding of consumer experience is essential to the success of the solution.
Digitally focused consumers have high expectations for performance. Looking at new technologies from a features and components standpoint underestimates the value of the customer experience and stands to alienate shoppers. As a supplier that retailers and brands approach to be a project integrator, we see the advantage for all parties to focus not just on the structure but the total experience. There are more pieces than ever that go into that experience. Embracing emerging technologies in a single view helps retailers and brands create an environment that appropriately serves consumers and keeps them engaged.
4) It doesn’t matter how great an in-store merchandising solution looks on paper or the assembly floor if it can’t perform consistently in the field.
It seems obvious that the interactive solutions an in-store merchandising company produces should have an extremely high success rate. Ask for hard numbers that establish what kind of track record a company has once its solutions are in the field. Look at the strength of a portfolio. Inquire about the process used to design, engineer, test, produce and maintain a product that has integrity and long term success. Attention to detail can have a significant impact on the performance of an interactive unit in the field. Each kiosk or interactive display has a particular business outcome that can only be achieved if it continuously operates as planned. It has a lifetime purpose and a lifetime cost.
5) The price you pay today for components does not reflect the opportunity costs over the duration of a project.
It is crucial to understand the quality and reliability of the components that an in-store merchandising designer sources for your project. The devaluation of these factors by over-emphasizing cost is perilous. The savings perceived up-front can disappear quickly when a unit has a component with a high failure rate. The price of one service call can be two to three times the “savings” from the cheaper component. Component selection and configuration do matter.
The last word
The complexity of in-store merchandising programs challenges the notion of fitting a retail solution into an evaluation template when it must deliver in all of the crucial areas just outlined. It is even more perilous to do so in this era where mobile can be squarely in the mix. A retail solution is not an isolated structure that merchandises products or carries brand messages; it is increasingly a sophisticated, integrated component of a brand or retailer’s Omni-channel marketing program. It demands a partner that can incorporate rapidly changing tools and tactics for engaging consumers. Though many of us in this industry don’t look like athletes, we’re in an environment where vision, agility and speed are requirements. Where’s the space for that on a one-size-fits all form?
[via PR Downloads]