Once a year Globalshop hosts a conference “for retail design, merchandising, shopper-facing technology & marketing.” It brings together the retail world’s top influencers under one roof with exclusive networking opportunities, insightful education sessions and fresh ideas and innovative solutions to optimize retail environments.

We were one of a few digital signage providers exhibiting at GlobalShop 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with most of the competitors at the other end of the Last Vegas strip where DSE was going on at the same time. Because of this, we were quite busy with visits and booth tours and were able to have insightful conversations with attendees and other exhibitors.

As is expected, the conversations were about the shopper experience and how digital and physical are marrying to make the customer experience more immersive. It was clear that shopper experience is most important regardless of where the customer is on the path to purchase. The goal of incorporating technology with physical is to make the experience as satisfying and frictionless as it now must be.

Digital provides unique ways for interactivity and omnichannel shopping experiences. Physical elements such as fabric signage, fixtures, and lighting come together to create the overall vibe/atmosphere and provide cost-effective, shoppable options for stores. Brands are looking to employ both elements in their overall in-store design and marketing to attract and engage shoppers.

Analytics was also big. Retailers are facing big changes and bigger challenges. Budgets are tightening, competition is increasing, and customers are exposed to more choice and are becoming more brand disloyal so retailers are being more careful and selfish with how they’re allocating resources. Because of this, measuring and analyzing marketing, sales, store operations and the human factor is more important than ever for retailers.

To give you some perspective, US shoppers made 38 billion trips to the store in 2010 but only 17 billion in 2013. Over that same period, retail sales actually grew from $681B to $783B. This shows that shoppers have become more prudent and targeted with their shopping time. To make store visits worth the customer’s time, retailers need to develop a real sense of what’s happening in the store, both in trending and in real time.

We saw interesting concepts for  measuring traffic and showing results in the retail environment: floor sensors that map how traffic moves inside the store, how many people walk to the displays in the stores and for how long they’re looking at the displays; face recognition technology that records the number, age and gender of viewers; heat sensors that detect store hot spots.

The practice of retail marketing, facilitated by the smart marriage of digital and physical, is more dynamic and fluid than ever. It requires minds that are equal parts analytical and imaginative i.e. marketers and not IT are now facilitating the meeting between man and machine.  

Overall, it was inspiring to see the widespread acceptance of and excitement about the power and permanence of in-store digital. It confirms our future.