The tendency to clad everything with an iPad or touchscreen is disappearing fast and old-fashioned visual merchandising is taking its place.

The tendency to clad everything with an iPad or touchscreen is disappearing fast and old-fashioned visual merchandising is taking its place.

Following the World Retail Congress in Paris last week, there was a tour of the city’s major retail attractions, which are many and varied, and one thing was apparent – digital visual merchandising and PoS seemed to be on the wane. And this was not confined to shoppers. Accompanying a large group of international retailers on the tour, it was clear that it was clever but simple ideas that were catching their attention, rather than any kind of digital razzamatazz.

Nowhere was this more obvious than on a visit to Citadium. For those unfamiliar with the Parisian retail landscape, Citadium is a store composed of three almost perfectly circular floors that is aimed at the brand-aware young fashion shopper – fertile territory, you might imagine, for things digital.

Yet, other than some doggedly low-tech scrolling dot matrix displays in the main atrium, there was next to nothing as far as screens and suchlike were concerned. For the visiting group, the greatest piece of excitement was to be found in the Converse All Stars area on the top floor. Here, a pillar had been clad with the brand’s baseball boots, suspended by their laces, all of which were cream coloured. This allowed shoppers to write on them, using the marker pens that were positioned next to the pillar. And they had done so, with each shoe being an artwork, covered in everything from Twitter monikers to small drawings and names.

Even the group of senior retailers found this hard to resist and some set about joining in and adding to the sneaker graffiti. In truth, this was about as simple as it could get, and yet everyone who passed the pillar smiled and felt compelled to add to the emerging picture – it was a model of shopper engagement.

The story was much the same as the rest of the day wore on. Shoppers and visitors were looking at the old-fashioned, but eyebrow-raising, visual merchandising, and where there were screens, they were frequently being ignored or left untouched. This may not be a trend proper, but a real sense of back-to-the-future for shoppers seemed to be the order of the day.

All of which does rather leave you wondering what the shop of the future is destined to look like. The in-store digital wave may be about to crash.