Revolutionise and invest in the commerciality and creativity in your visual communication, your creative designers and marketers, the visual power and portrayal of your brand, the beauty of your product, the attractiveness of your packaging, the atmosphere of your experience, because this is the most sure way to ensure your investment in whatever media you choose will turn into liquid gold instead of technological trash.
In-store graphic communication is being changed forever by technologies; and we are in a time of unprecedented opportunities if we only recognise that visual communication is not about mediums but about using words and imagery to communicate with customer emotions.
The two technological issues we need to consider are firstly the new ways to deliver information in our stores, and secondly how to work with online and mobile channels to deliver coordinated messages across all communication in this omni-channel world.
In reality in-store communication rules and principles will not fundamentally change however technology has the power to change both quality and quantity. In terms of quantity not the number of messages at any one time but the dynamic number of messages through time.
On the quality side of things the visual impact and consistency of digital media improves in leaps and bounds whilst the cost reduces at a pace. This has seen a real acceleration of digital media inside new store concepts and not just in the obvious areas of TV style advertising in windows and till points but as a tool for static communication from price points, customer service messages and store directories. Its use is transforming stores as varied as Burberry to Lefties.
The simple investment argument moves steadily and simply onto whether and when to invest heavily upfront in technology with less ongoing costs or to persist with initially cheaper paper POS but with the ongoing expense of continuous replenishment.
However, the final decision in fact depends on the fundamentals of digital communication as an entity in itself. Does it work in-store for the customer and can retailers develop the imagination and skills to maximise its potential?
For example when it comes to hard price and sales promotion current thinking would still persuade most retailers that the immediacy of paper works, likewise the still ever popular chalk board for urgency. Similarly, large high impact graphics would still seem to be in the realm of lightboxes with their effective hybrid technologies.
Digital interactivity is also still a doubt. We are still treated to the familiar sight of stores littered with cast-off screen technologies where customers prefer to interact on their personal mobile devices rather than large store interfaces.
And retailers are still to get to grips with combining visual communication and visual merchandising in an integrated way. The world is not mannequins or imagery but a clever combination of both. Can digital finally embrace this opportunity? Can digital designers embrace physical display?
What digital does offer is an endless dynamic of opportunities in one place where a screen can change from poster to video, from website to directory; a dynamic that can integrate online promotions with store stimulation, move effortlessly through seasons with catwalk shows, static silhouettes, promotional videos to gentle evocative mood setting. The choices and combinations are literally endless and ultimately that will be the test of a good retailer and the success of the widespread development of true omni-channel communication inside stores. Can retailers develop the correct content well enough?
Certainly the short term solution is a combination of paper, lightboxes and digital used in clever and efficient ways.
In the medium and longer term the success of any particular medium will be determined by how well each is used in terms of content and context. The adage that customers read the message not the medium is as relevant as ever and as consumer and retailers we will no doubt be treated to as many poor examples of digital communication as there ever were in more traditional tactile times.