A Day At The Mall: Screens Everywhere

December 7, 2012 by Dave Haynes

My own crazy year and lots of discussions had already told me that retail is now finally, really starting to integrate digital signage into store presentations in meaningful ways. But a day spent at Canada’s premium shopping mall – in terms of the mix of retailers – really confirmed things are moving.

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I was at Yorkdale in suburban Toronto for several hours, and had a chance to walk the newest area – which is airy and clutter-free, and lined with high-end stores that almost all have significant digital screen usage.

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Yorkdale is one of those malls where retailers put in flagships – so the budgets and level of attention are indeed higher. But the way screens are being applied in various stores suggests digital is not a one-off thing just for flagships. Walk around the “older” parts of the heavily renovated mall and you also see screens everywhere.

I think the combination of better screen technology and much narrowed bezels, along with an understanding among retail designers about how to apply this technology, is really starting to make a difference.

Is it all done well? No.

You see, even on video walls, great technical execution hampered by re-purposed video that’s blown up and softened, projections that aren’t bright enough, and content that looks like it was available, as opposed to purpose-designed.

On the other hand, this was my first look at a Microsoft store, and the use of digital screens everywhere is fantastic (though it’s almost funny how obviously they were “inspired” by Apple stores).

But I got every sense digital at retail is moving beyond the one-offs. If you are a digital signage/in-store digital nerd, Yorkdale is worth a visit. Though maybe wait ’til January. Holiday foot traffic is something like 2,000,000 in December.

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