Ever wonder why some stores are just great places to be in and others leave you indifferent? Why do some retailers seem to attract more people into their stores than others and keep them coming back? One of the reasons is retail design. Stores that are well designed make people feel good. Successful retailers understand the importance design plays in how well they manage their store. The way it is laid out, the products it features and promotes and the amenities it offers to consumers to make them feel welcome are all part of creating a compelling in-store experience. A report entitled “Measuring emotions in customer experiences in retail store environments”, says that “retail design entails an understanding of what will work aesthetically in a retail environment.” But how do retailers know what will work before the store opens? How do they come up with the right ideas? Do they try out several layouts in their test stores and watch consumers from behind a two-way mirror to see how they react, if they buy, if they meander through the store or walk out after only a couple of seconds? And if a particular store design doesn’t work, what do they do? Re-organize everything and try again? Yes! This is the time consuming and expensive reality for most retailers.
But with 3D digital technology, visual merchandising is not left to trial and error chance, it becomes creative science. It provides retailers with a fast and cost-effective way to try out different options and see which one works before physically setting up a store. So let’s quickly go through some of the advantages of 3D visual merchandising.
1. 3D visual merchandizing allows merchants to create virtual store environments and to provide access to these environments over the internet to as many test users as they want. This results in
- More consumer diversity for a broader appeal
They can have consumers in faraway countries and of different cultures participate in testing, not just those that live near their physical test store. This provides them with greater insights into the tastes of a broader scope of people.
- Increased cost-effectiveness and less time-consuming
On the consumer side, access over the Internet is cheaper and faster than flying in by plane or driving over by car. And for the merchant, digitally designing multiple test stores is less expensive and time-consuming than setting up different physical test stores with real products.
- Faster convergence on the right solution
Testers can provide immediate feedback that merchants can rapidly consolidate (if they have the right software) and to implement changes to their virtual store in a matter of minutes. Try undoing and rearranging a floor and product layout in a physical test store in a few minutes…hmmm.
2. With 3D visual merchandising tools people don’t need to struggle to make the right decisions. They can effectively deal with opportunity cost issues partly because they help to eliminate the risk of not pursuing all or a large number of possible alternative scenarios simply because they didn’t have the time or funds to do so. What if they missed out on a great layout simply because it wasn’t tested? Intelligent merchandising based on business metrics helps brands’ reach their revenue targets.
3. 3D visual merchandising helps keep consistency in the brand identity. Moreover, many more digital layouts can be designed and tested. This added flexibility gives those responsible for strategy and key decision-making the reassurance that their decisions are based on what consumers actually experienced. 3D visual tools take out the guess work. They meet with their brand managers with confidence to defend their points of views armed with real consumer data that validate their choices. They know they’ve made the right decisions. Less stress, less anxiety, period.
Technology has transformed the shopping experience as witnessed with the rise of mobile and on-line commerce. Bricks and mortar stores are challenged to adopt technology as well to reinvent themselves and to give people a reason to leave their homes to go shopping. The ones that provide consumers with the best in-store experiences have every chance of convincing them that they are really great places to be, and shop, in.