GlobalShop, the annual retail-design and in-store marketing show, used its 2007 edition to showcase the latest technology advances. Stores have come to rely increasingly on electronic hardware components to do the jobs once the exclusive bailiwick of chrome and cardboard. Accordingly, illuminating many booths of the more than 900 exhibitors were digital signs awash in content demonstrations, turning the exhibit hall into a miniature of the Las Vegas strip just outside.
Organizers expected the 2007 event, held March 7-9 at the Sands Expo Center, to be the largest yet, with attendance predicted to be about 14,000, representing about 90 percent of the top 100 retail chains.
GlobalShop's first event was in 1993, and is now one of the world's largest annual store design and visual merchandising exposition and conferences.
POPAI's Digitial Signage Group sponsored Digital Signage Day, which featured industry experts addressing various topics relevant to the industry, including In-store Media Measurements, How Do I Use Digital Media to Deliver Value? and Transformation of Human Information Processing.
"Digital media experienced an 120 percent increase over last year signifying tremendous growth in this area," said Doug Hope, group vice president of GlobalShop 2007 and the show's founder, in a pre-show release. "We are very excited to be able to offer GlobalShop attendees an in-depth look at the digital signage segment and other growing retail trends, such as scent marketing."
Competing with Zoom
idX's booth gave customers a place to take a load off, keeping with the Vegas fad by offering visitors an oxygen bar in addition to their Shop Robotic vending system.
Designed in partnership with Teknovation, the eight-foot long vending kiosk was the center of attention for visitors, who watched intently as the vacuum-powered robotic arm grabbed iPods and digital cameras from the spring-loaded racks.
The Shop Robotic is comparable to the vending kiosks of Zoom Systems, although Teknovation CEO Jason Nawding said the Shop Robotic is more appealing to the consumer. "We've focused on the product presentation, bringing the products right up against the glass so it feels like the customer can almost reach out and grab it," Rawding said.
The products ranged from cell phones to shampoo and were brightly illuminated by LED lights. On the outside, a flush-mounted interactive touchscreen gave product information as well as allowed the customer to make their selection.
3D taking shape
A small crowd was constantly huddled around Wireless Ronin's 3D flatscreen sign, which featured a specialized display film for a depth effect. The 3D content had to be specially designed as well. "It costs about $1,000 a second to create 3D content, however," said Bob Aho, regional vice president for Wireless Ronin.
Inside Ronin's booth was their most notable contribution to the show, a remote-controlled digital menu board system which featured three 48-inch flatscreens. Wendy's was used as an example for the menu boards, which showed Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers rotating around boxes of fries and Frostys.
The all-in-one system has the CPU built inside the screen so no external hardware is needed. Wireless Ronin has been working with Wand Corporation to integrate the signs with a POS system.
"The digital signage allows restaurants to adjust their menus to local demographics," said Scot Sinnen, central regional VP and a Globalshop panel member for digital signage. "They're incredibly flexible, dynamic, and they give customers something to look at other than the price."
The digital signs have been piloted in a Minneapolis Wendy's and have already been used in Minnesota Wild hockey promotions, flashing live game scores and offering game-related discounts.
Taking a swing at Wii
Vistors showed off their golf skills at Frank Mayer and Associates' Nintendo Wii kiosk, which allowed people to demo a golf game on the movement-based gaming system. The kiosk was used in Wii tour events for the release of the system in 2006. The sleek, white kiosk contained a flatscreen TV and plastic housing for the Wii.
Frank Mayer also had a replica display of their video game in-store displays that is used in Wal-Mart stores. The gondola-style shelving unit featured six flatscreen TVs for game demos and lockable glass doors for game viewing and storage.
Frank Mayer also re-released their surfboard-style BMW informational kiosk that became popular at it inception in several years ago. The company has been refurbishing the kiosks as BMW comes out with new models.
"The ROI is great," said David Zoerb, senior vice president of marketing sevices. "If you make the investment, we can keep refreshing the kiosks and lengthen the life."
On the show floor
3M's latest signage development came from their sub-brand Vikuiti and allows images to be projected in specific shapes. Die-cut film, made from millions of tiny glass beads, is put on a glass surface while a projector shoots an image onto the glass. (3M used their company logo as an example.) The image only shows up on the film, creating an outline of the logo with moving pictures inside of it.
Brookview Technologies and HoloFX collaborated to create an interactive window for Infiniti that was used at the 2006 Toronto International Car Show. Content was projected on a glass panel equipped with touch-responsive film. HoloFX president and CEO Jeffery Moscoe says the screen is ideal for retailers, who can keep all hardware inside the store but still have interactive advertising on the street.
The content, an interactive buyer's guide for Infiniti, was developed by HoloFX while the touchscreen window was created by Brookview Technologies. The touch window was also used in a 2006 Polo Ralph Lauren campaign.
Electrosonic partnered with Panasonic to create an RFID-powered interactive dressing room guide. A vertical flatscreen showed a woman who would "change clothes" according to what garment was held in front of the screen. Most notably, the system would then send customers coupons and special offers to their cell phones via Bluetooth based on the clothes they had brought in front of the screen. The back end of the system gave retailers statistics on what clothes were frequently "tried on."
Gesturetek introduced their ScreenXtreme advertising system, which takes video of people walking by and places their image in the ad. The ads also contain interactive elements, like floating Skittles or bubbles that move when triggered by the human image.
The interactive display company also featured a demonstration of Holopoint, a non-touch controller for interactive displays that moves a mouse arrow by waving your hand. The application is designed for museums and science centers, but has also been used for product demonstrations by Ford Motor Company.
Retail technology specialists MTI Interactive brought several smart displays to Globalshop, each aimed at providing information to the customer and feedback to the retailer. Their cell phone retail station has magnetic switches that trigger digital signage content when a phone is picked up. The Immersion vibrating touchscreen also has a manager mode that allows for easy changes in the planogram and employee sales training. The fixture has already been rolled-out to 1,000 T-Mobile stores.
They also have 100 contracted service employees around the country for system repairs, bridging the labor gap between expensive IT contractors and what Vice President Jason Goldberg calls "dusters and fluffers" – store merchandisers who don't do repairs. MTI's maintenance crew also performs monthly check-ups on MTI stations in their reigon.
"When you integrate everything into a one-stop shop they only have one butt to kick," Goldberg said."
Nanonation featured an interactive touchscreen guide that was placed on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise liner last May. The guide featured a live-action female tour guide who showed passengers details on activities on the ship and day-trips. Nanonation designed the software and shot all video, according to Brian Ardinger, director of business development.
Soundtube Entertainment debuted a speaker-less sound system that can be installed on kiosks to prevent vandalism and improve sleekness, according to Devin Howells, creative director for Soundtube. A small, round transducer can be placed on wood, plastic or glass and "sends vibrations through the panels, essentially making them the speakers," Howells said.
Video Visions, Inc. attracted the attention of convention visitors with three rotating flatscreen monitors which the company calls Plasmaxx. The LCD screens rotate while the picture uses counter-rotation technology to stay upright. Though Plasmaxx screens have only been shown in US tradeshows, the have been deployed in Venezuela for whiskey advertising, with the sign rotating the bottle vertically as it pours a drink.
Vira showed their latest in cell phone retail technology, with an interactive touchscreen that displays product information based on what cell phone the customer picks up off the display. Using RFID, the back end of the system provides retailers with information such as which cell phones were picked up more frequently and how long customers held the phones in their hands. Customers could also bring other phones from around the store in front of the touchscreen to receive product information.