There are many who feel that in-store digital displays are a passing fad, but failure to run with this one may mean shoppers go elsewhere. 

More and more stores, at all levels, are installing big screens and digital entertainment. But does this help sales? The new Hunter store on Regent Street is a case in point. This is the first store for the upscale Wellington boot and associated clothing brand and it has a massive screen backing the stairwell on the landing between the ground and first floors.

For those entering the store it is impossible to miss this feature, with its mix of moody-looking models wearing the clothing in outdoorish scenes.

This actually does nothing as far as getting people to dig deep is concerned. Yet so used, has the shopper become, to slick moving images as part of a flagship store design package, that the absence of something like this leaves a sense of being short-changed.

When Primark opened its Tottenham Court Road store a couple of years ago, it put a very large screen on the ground floor featuring members of young persons’ popular beat combos accompanied by fashion images.

When questioned about the level of expenditure involved and why it was felt necessary to do this, Paul Marchant, the CEO, commented: “Because we have to”. Since that time, more screens have been added to this shop, both in the windows and in-store, and now almost every new Primark store has digital-display elements as part of its proposition.

And all of the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that no harm has been done to Primark’s bottom line by pretty hefty capital expenditure on something that does not ostensibly put money in the till.

Primark is leading the way

But here’s the thing: As well as being accustomed to all things digital, shopper expectations about what constitutes a store have been shifting. And oddly, or maybe not, Primark has been among the leaders as far as running with the digital-display baton is concerned.

It needs to do this. Increasingly we are seeing online merchants crossing the digital divide and setting up physical shop. And as they do so, they bring their on-screen experience with them – offering a challenge to many physical merchants. It’s a task ‘traditional’ retailers are up to and many are responding robustly.

But more needs to be done. And if ever there were a moment when faith in in-store visual technology is required, this must be it.

One of the effects of the digital revolution has been that shoppers expect more and in-store displays are no exception to this. Investing now may help avoid future disappointment.