EuroShop represents the largest retail expo in the world. Every three years the event attracts retail agencies, designers and brands, globally. Last month, Outform attended EuroShop 2020 in Dusseldorf, Germany, where we got to see some of the leading trends in retail and technology today, including virtual reality, RFID, robotics and more.
Here are our picks of standout highlights from the show which exemplify the upcoming trends that will dominate the market in the years to come.
Virtual and augmented reality are familiar concepts to the retail industry. There is a lot of buzz on how they will “innovate” and “revolutionize” stores and the customer experience. Even with so much hype around these technologies, there are still challenges with effective implementation at scale past just the novelty element. It was refreshing to see several brands at EuroShop who are creating infrastructure for this technology which will provide value to its users.
Hartmann Vonsiebenthal, a brand experience company, used VR to a create a “retail as a service” experience. Users put on a VR headset and entered an expansive design showroom where they became the interior designers of a boutique. With VR hand controllers users could choose from a selection of colors, materials and finishes to apply directly on different elements of the boutique. By being able to turn ideas into realistic visuals, retailers and engineers can work together to virtually build the ideal space before starting the final execution.
The Innovations Hub, a creative media collaboration between Dusseldorf University of Applied Sciences, LAVA Labs and Tennagels Medientechnik, demonstrated the interactive capabilities of AR in retail. By pointing a tablet at a still object provided, the digital screen captures a live version of the product and prompts information, giving the user opportunities to learn more about the product itself. Pairing AR activations with merchandise in-store gives retailers opportunities to add more value to the products for the consumer. Retailers can showcase additional touchpoints such as product information, brand origin stories, or anything else they’d like to share to add value to customers’ in-store experience.
Consumers are becoming more informed and aware of their environmental footprint. They are re-thinking their shopping decisions and using purchase power as a way to make more conscientious transactions. This means looking for brands that share their values regarding sustainability and overall impact on the environment. Brands have been reactive towards these consumers’ growing needs by incorporating the use of natural materials in their shops and working towards circular production.
Austrian interior design company Organoid spoke with us about how they are bringing nature into the retail space through 100% sustainable materials. Organoid takes natural elements like hay, hop cones and pine-needles and turns them into materials for wallpaper, flooring and furniture within stores. The result is a one-of-a-kind design that creates, not only a unique look, but also adds a noticeable scent. Their products highlight natural elements to create a deeper story and raise shoppers’ awareness of the retailer’s sustainability efforts.
Green design company styleGREEN is using biophilic design to bring nature indoors through framed plant and wall moss pieces. The company uses natural materials that are harvested by hand and made durable with glycerin and food coloring. Adding green wall pieces to a retail environment adds a stronger highlight for stores that have a natural and sustainable approach to their business to help tell their story in a visually impactful way.
Lighting creates a platform for the retail environment. Excellent lighting has the ability to provide context, tell stories, lift consumer’s mood and change the perceptions of products in store. EuroShop light exhibitors showed off some innovative lighting solutions for stores, including interactive lightboxes, and storefronts made of entirely of illuminated acrylic panels.
ABS, a retail agency, used motion sensor technology in lightboxes to create interactions with an LED animation. Their booth showed three large lightboxes that formed an open stage where users were encouraged to walk up and touch the upholstered lightbox fabric. Motion would trigger the sensor and generate unique visual effects based on the users’ movements. ABS called this multi-sensory textile architecture “phygital”, a combination of both physical and digital elements.
ILMEX, a Spanish company that designs lights for urban streets and shopping facades, uses lighting as a tool to evoke emotion and cultivate a sense of excitement in consumers. At EuroShop the company used large scale acrylic panels lit with LED lights. The panels formed tall archways and columns that doubled as the infrastructure of the booth. To make sharable social moments, ILMEX provided etched sketches on lit acrylic frames to create photo opportunities for passersby.
Temporary spaces have become a central part of many retailers’ strategies, helping generate unique exposure, test markets and locations, cut costs, and create a sense of surprise and delight among customers. Whether it’s an established brick-and-mortar retailer or a new digital brand, these executions have the ability to make noise in a crowded retail market.
Arcoglobal, in collaboration with Turkish artist Seçkin Pirim, presented a museum-like experience at EuroShop. The environment was divided into multiple spaces that told a story about Arcoglobal’s services, including design and engineering. The space emphasized an industrial look and feel through materials like crates, wooden pegs and steel rods. Arcoglobal demonstrates that pop-ups can be used for B2B and don’t have to sell a product.
The logistics and operations of the shopping journey are just as important as the visual experience. Retail technology remains one of the most crucial aspects in physical retail’s survival. Services that provide convenience, especially in providing information and a more agile checkout, will win return visits.
MAGO Group, an engineering company, displayed smart shopping cart technology that promises the “future doesn’t wait in line.” The smart cart takes the traditional ingredients of a grocery store and combines them with an innovative mobile checkout system that enables consumers to scan their own items and pay directly with their phone. The smart cart uses a reusable fabric shopping bag as its base. When the payment is completed the shopper unhooks the bag from the cart and takes the products home therefore eliminating the need for wasteful single-use shopping bags.
Visdisplay, a retail company that specializes in shopfitting systems, uses retail technology to create the future of shoppers’ digital journey in store. Their booth featured an RFID reader that simplifies the checkout process for consumers. When an item is placed on the checkout space a screen displays information on the given product. Once they are ready to checkout, customers simply tap their phone on the Mobile Payment area of the counter to easily make a payment.
Beyond consumer-facing technology, back-end retail analytics are equally important to the retailer. When shopping online the consumer’s path to purchase is tracked by every click and movement. However, in physical retail the details of individuals’ in-store journey are more ambiguous. Visdisplay uses heat maps, to share which spaces drive the most traffic, and sensors on display fixtures to identify return customers. Access to this data will help retailers build strategies to get consumers to come back in-store.
Visual merchandising is one of the first opportunities retailers have to encourage consumers to interact with a product. Shapes and textures help tell stories and define the mood while elements like LED animation add motion and life to the space. The trend at this year’s EuroShop show was creating complete immersion in-store. Exhibitors focused their attention away from singular wall displays and used the entire store to set the framework.
Aluvision, an events services company, uses LED video walls to create mesmerizing in-store visuals and animations. The company uses removable block tiles to build modular systems such as store walls and curved hallways. This technology provides merchandisers with a flexible medium where its contents can be refreshed as needed, be it new product launches or campaigns. These kinds of executions give retailers both functional and captivating tools to engage audiences, keep them in the store longer, and a reason to share on social for even more exposure.
Mannequins have been a key component in window dressing for years and are fairly standard when it comes to their retail presence. Genesis Mannequins, however, took the design of their mannequins to a new level through trendy styles and looks, intense colors, a variety of material finishes, and figures that include not only human bodies, but iguanas as well! Genesis shows how stores are able to bring clothes to life without technology, instead using bold visuals to create stories around their products.
Platforms like EuroShop allow us to see what’s new in the industry and how other agencies are adapting to the changing demands of the market. Outform specializes in creating tangible consumer engagements that elevate, connect and humanize brand experiences to shape the future of retail. Our global team prides itself on our ability to dare to innovate and help brands solve the challenges of the increasingly competitive retail landscape.