The History of Retail Displays and How They Advanced into Today’s Interactive Retail Displays

08.09.2023 Articles
By Sargena Narsa, PR & Communications Content Specialist

By nature, human beings are visual creatures. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, while 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. This is affirmed through social media – we don’t typically see interesting articles going viral (like this one!). The content that goes viral online is almost always a video or picture.

With the rapid advancements in technology, interactive retail displays have emerged as a powerful tool to achieve just that. By seamlessly integrating physical and digital experiences, these innovative displays elevate brand presence, engage customers, and create immersive shopping journeys. In this article, we will explore how interactive retail displays have evolved over time, and how you can enhance your brand’s presence and drive growth in the fiercely competitive retail market.

Back To The Beginning: The Start of Window-Shopping

Let’s start from the beginning. When plate glass became first available in the late 1800s, shop owners began to build large windows spanning the full lengths of their shops to display merchandise. Retailers in big cities such as London and New York would compete over who created the most exciting window displays, as the ultimate winner claimed the most customers.

In today’s world, retail displays aren’t just about enticing shoppers to come into the store. Instead, retail displays are intended to draw attention, display information, and set products apart from competition. Retail displays have evolved to become more interactive, allowing shoppers to see, touch, and hear a product in action before they make a purchase decision. By developing interactive displays, brands allow consumers to have an immersive, multisensory shopping experience.

Retail experts agree that the physical appearance and branding of a package helps sell the product inside. The first touchpoint that a consumer has with a product is often an entirely visual experience. Shoppers see a product’s packaging or brand’s retail display and mentally assess its visual appeal. A product’s packaging should communicate your brand’s message and the value it adds to your customer.

Just like a product’s packaging, the way the product is displayed at retail is just as important. Retail environments contain dozens of competing alternative products displayed on shelves nearby. To stand out, brands are developing eye-catching, immersive displays that capture the attention of shoppers and leave a long-lasting impression.

Retail displays have always been an essential part of visual merchandising, but they have evolved over the years to align with changing consumer expectations as well as technological advancements. Let’s explore how retail displays have changed throughout the years and what displays may look like in the near future.

The Importance of Interactive Displays In Retail Environments

Shoppers want interactive displays to transform the previous passive act of shopping into an engaging experience. With interactive displays, retailers can benefit from the experience economy, in which young consumers would rather spend money on experiences than on material items.

Interactive retail displays not only enrich the shopping experience, but they make brands more versatile. Since interactive displays are technology-driven, they can be remotely updated with solutions such as IoTrace to adjust messaging based on changes in campaign direction. For brands that have multiple products on display throughout thousands of retail stores nationwide, the logistics that go into managing interactive displays can present its challenges. From in-store audits to in-depth compliance checks, parts order fulfillment and field rep operations, the work that is required to manage modern retail displays takes a well-organized, experienced team with extensive industry knowledge.

The New Age Of Interactive Retail Displays

Many brands mistakenly believe that retail associates will maintain their interactive displays for them – running tech updates and making sure the displays are clean, organized, and properly connected. However, it is not a retail associate’s job to maintain interactive displays. Instead, they are focused on assisting in-store shoppers. That’s why many brands choose to partner with a third-party retail company that can act as their eyes and ears on the ground, making sure all their products are properly presented in retail environments.

No longer is display maintenance just a matter of checking off a simple yes/no audit list. Instead, in-store visits have evolved to include technology troubleshooting if any component of an interactive display is found to be non-functional. A product’s display provides the first impression of a brand. If the display is broken or not functioning as it should, what type of message does that convey? If a display tech sees that something is off, they should have the training and experience to immediately identify the root problem and fix any issues to get the interactive display back up and running, ready for business, and minimizing the down time of a non-functional display.

Not only is speed-to-fix an extremely important factor in display maintenance, but so are reporting capabilities. After all, a partner brand or company needs to know exactly how their product displays are performing on store shelves at all times. That level of real-time feedback allows them to make quick adjustments and pivot with changing business needs.

For nearly 40 years, BDS has supported retail displays for world class brands and retailers. With our decades of industry experience, we are a versatile, agile team that can adapt to changes quickly and overcome challenges head-on. Through our industry-leading Break Fix team, we conduct site surveys, install and maintain retail displays, troubleshoot interactive technology issues, perform regular display updates, and supply real-time data so you can make actionable business decisions.

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