US shopping mall operator Westfield put a back to back bank of big-ass LCD touch displays in one of its big malls, Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, about a year ago.
I missed the press and only stumbled across the set-up when it was written up as part of a piece in Ad Age the other day about evolving malls and technology.
Here’s Westfield’s description of what was put in …
Bringing the best of online technology to the physical world, the new Digital Storefront offers visitors an interactive and visually stunning display of retail products from Nordstrom, Michael Kors, Ann Taylor, Maje, Sandro, Vince Camuto, Microsoft, Bose and more.
The new Digital Storefront is like a sleek, interactive lookbook. These 7-foot tall, ultra-high definition (4k) touch-screens will allow visitors to discover new products offered by retailers at the shopping center in real time. Beautiful images will rotate on the screens, and visitors will be able to approach and engage with the displays with the touch of a finger.
By scrolling, zooming and rotating through the retailer curated collections, visitors can find shopping inspiration and even display a map of exactly where individual products are found in the mall so they can go experience them first-hand.
This come out on Westfield’s innovation labs, so this has to be put in the context of what it is – a test. A VERY expensive test, but a test nonetheless. Bring it in, plug it in, and see how people react.
The beauty of digital is there will have been analytics for the past year of how often the screens get used, and when they were used, for what purpose and for how long.
I don’t personally see how this addresses what I think are the keys to good interactive retail, as in “This thing make something faster, easier, better or cheaper.” If I want to browse stuff, I’ve got a phone for that, and if I’m that interested in seeing stuff in life size, I’ll walk into the store that’s apparently in that mall.
On the other hand, there’s an argument for retailers who aren’t in the mall to establish a shopping presence through giant screens. But there’s an opposing argument that the little screen in your hand is faster and easier for ordering, and a lot more private. That and the mall tenants aren’t going to be happy about competitors setting up shop without actually setting up shop.
I put a note in to Westfield Labs asking if the the screens are still there, and if so, is there any data that they’d share. Says Westfield via its PR firm:
“Unfortunately, we do not have metrics available to share, however we can share that we have received positive feedback on the experience from both our retailers and visitors. Visitors are excited by the ability to discover new retailers and their products with this interactive and visually stunning display, and retailers are excited to engage and connect with new and existing consumers by providing moments of inspiration outside of their retail stores.”
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.