Remember the time when retailers seemed to think that if it moved then an iPad should be attached to it? It wasn’t actually that long ago.
Remember when retailers seemed to think that if it moved then an iPad should be attached to it? It wasn’t actually that long ago and the thinking, in-store, seemed to be that reality could be augmented by putting screens and tablets in shops and somehow this would equate to more turnover as shoppers would be dazzled in the digital headlights.
This was little more than a year ago, yet since that time there seems to have been a gradual retreat from this position. Yes, there still plenty of iPads to be found as part of store design blueprints, but with m-commerce on the up and up, it would appear that there might not be quite the same perceived pressing need for this form of e-commerce.
It’s NRF (National Retail Federation the retail tech show in New York) this week and the somewhat perplexing thing about iPads and suchlike in the City That Never Sleeps is that they never seem to have taken hold in shops as they have done in, say, London. The reason may, of course, be that online connectivity is patchy at best in this part of the world and large touch screens providing access to retailers’ websites while shoppers are in store do seem to have a habit of freezing just when you’re about to find what you want. And as somebody in trendy furniture retailer CB2 remarked when a screen stopped working yesterday: “This is more disappointing than if it hadn’t been here.”
The fact seems to be that the US has been rather slower about making its stores more connected to the virtual world and the idea of the store as a digital hub, a la M&S Cheshire Oaks, is almost nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, back in Blighty, refinements to online connectivity as part of the digitally-enabled store have been taking place and if you want to get a sense of how this is being integrated with store design then the M&S store at Cheshire Oaks really does seem to be the way to go. There is still a great deal to be said for screens of all types in our stores and it really can be an effective way of dealing with the emerging new retail world order. Not everything digital and whizzy emanates from more than 3,000 miles away across the Atlantic.