Using digital screens as major features in a store presupposes that they work. If they don’t, they need to be fixed – quickly.
Fossil, the US watch and accessories retailer and brand has a flagship on Oxford Street.
It has been open since November and from the outside this is a beguiling space with a double frontage. The windows have not been boxed in, which means that passers-by can see straight through to the back of the shop.
And it’s a good-looking shop. The interior has been fitted out with a mix of large white tiles and wooden planks on the floor, white mid-shop fixtures and highly finished wood around the perimeter.
All this and lighting that focuses on specific areas and products rather than flooding the interior with a high level of ambient light.
So far so good – but what’s that at the back of the shop? There’s a wall composed of what appears to be a blackboard surrounded by pastel-coloured blocks that have letters on them – much like the kind that children used to be taught their ABCs on.
In front of this there’s even a wooden mid-shop fixture that looks like a table from a science lab of old. Except this is not a blackboard, it’s a digital screen and it’s not working.
Upon enquiry, a member of staff said it “was working the last time that I was in, but they’ve been doing work next door, so it’s been turned off for a while”. She added that the small screens embedded in the science lab table carried the same content as would normally be found on the ‘blackboard’.
Good knowledge and information, except that shouldn’t there be a degree more urgency about the failure of what is in fact the major feature of this store?
Digital screens on the scale of the one at the back of the Fossil store do not come cheap and yet what was apparent was that neither staff, nor those who run the store, were overly concerned with the status quo last Friday.
Actually, this is such a winsome-looking interior that the casual visitor might almost overlook what has happened, but there can be no denying that screens that don’t work are the curse of the digital retail age.
In other interiors, it would have smacked sufficiently of a don’t-care attitude to make the shopper turn tail and go somewhere else.
If you are going to spend time and money installing digital signage or screens in a store, make sure that minimum downtime (if any) is a reality. Turned off blank screens in any environment are a turn-off.