Located on Albert Rd in south Melbourne, the lab allows retailers and consumers to test new electronic technology in digital signage, touch devices, and price labels in a prototype store environment.
“In a way, what we’re expecting is that the whole world of retail needs to be digitalised,” said Roy Tavenor, principal of Red Design Group, at Retail Evolution Lab’s launch.
Stephen Borg, global strategy director at Aopen, said, “We’re seeing a trend in retail where retailers are not just using video, they’re using ambient content to create an experience.”
Borg added that global e-tailers such as Asos and Amazon are “now part of a shopaholic’s everyday conversation”, and local retailers need to be aware of that.
“There’s no disputing that customers are demanding convenient and engaging ways to shop both online and offline.
“Yet what builds business and loyalty for retail brands on and off the web is a superior customer experience, spanning both service and shop quality, meaning that the game is certainly not over for bricks and mortar retailers, it’s simply evolving,” Borg said.
Products available at the lab include digital price promotion screens, as well as an ‘app bar’ – a service counter where customers can be assisted to download applications for their smart phones.
“One key trend we’re seeing in retail and financial services is where some of the retailers and financial institutions are bringing customers in and teaching them about apps.
“[Retailers] are not just saying we don’t want you in the branch, we just want you to go on the net, they’re actually providing facilities to do it instore and have someone help them do that.”
Other concepts include transparent digital signage screens as well as fixed interactive tablet devices offering barcode content, product information, and motion video for self branding and promotion.
Tablets also provide live data and analytics to the retailer about what customers are looking at.
Coles Southland in Victoria is currently trialing a tablet device in the analgesics section of the store, allowing consumers to gain more information on pain relief products.
“Everything that the customer sees, the information, the packaging, needs to all be provided digitally instore as well,” Tavenor said.
“It’s not about screens and high tech, it’s about simply giving the customer information and allowing them to make their own choice.”
Tavenor says retailers now need to offer consumers both the physical and virtual equally in store.
“I think the internet has succeed because it is the ultimate self service tool.”
Digital barcodes, or eLabels, advertising product information are also on display.
Aopen and Red Design Group agree the Retail Evolution Lab is “not about future-gazing”, with all the concepts on display to be made commercially available and ready for use within months.
This story originally appeared in Inside Retail Magazine. The August/September issue, featuring exclusive coverage of the 2013 Westfield World Retail Study Tour is out now. For more information, click here.