Euro Shop 2017 - setting the bar for the retail industry

The world’s largest trade fair for retail took place from 5 to 9 March in Düsseldorf, Germany. Held every three years, EuroShop started back in 1966, and the 2017 event was the biggest ever, with over 2,000 exhibitors, in excess of 100,000 visitors from more than 100 countries, and more than 100,000m2 of exhibition space.

The trade fair is divided into seven areas, all representing elements related to the retail industry. These are point-of-presence/purchase (POP) or point-of-sale (POS) marketing, which includes signage, displays and outdoor communication; expo and event marketing, which includes stand construction and equipment, brand communication, communication design and event technology; retail technology, including retail software, POS technology, mobile solutions, e-commerce and payment systems; lighting, including systems, design and technology; visual merchandising including display mannequins, store and window decorations; shopfitting and store design, including fixtures and equipment, architecture, store planning, materials and surfaces; and food tech and energy management, including refrigeration, building automation, cooking and baking solutions.

The 2017 fair celebrated 50 years of the event, and focused on innovations and inspirations for the retail industry. As a catch-all summary of the event, the overarching theme was the further integration of offline and online retailing, which is ever more manifest in the engagement with the retailer, both in the physical store and digitally with the smart phone. As Jan Kalbfleisch, CEO of Kommunikationsverband noted, three important trends that are currently impacting the life communication and exhibition industries, are digitisation in its various guises and on various platforms, sustainability, and the ever-increasing role of international business for both retailers and customers.

The look of the future – shopfitting and store design at its best – was a focus of this year’s event. Lisa Beck, consulting and project management for Atelier 522 GmbH, expounded on the trends that are coming out of shop design, which are likely to be taken up by retailers. Further integration between physical and digital, she said, means that the shopping experience and the social component will be more important in store design, such that on- and offline cohabitate the same space. This needs to be linked back to the brand and its story. “We want to tell stories that are long-lasting and that are fun and enjoyable, that arouse emotions, because the human being as component will be the distinction between online and offline in the future.” Thomas Gruber of Paul Serafini GmbH added that this would be relevant to shop-builders, carpenters, architects and planners, as they construct the stores of the future. Materials to be used to this effect are rough, industrial and more honest, suggested Jasmijn Prinssen, Deputy MD and Partner at Jos DeVries The Retail Company, so that the shopper can stay true to him/herself. “Making choices and remaining relevant to the customer is one of the biggest challenges we have today,” she said.

The next focal point was that of visual merchandising (VM), which embraced the notion of using a good story to stimulate the customer’s imagination. In an e-commerce environment, noted EuroShop, visual marketing is becoming critically important, meaning that emotions and a well-constructed story are crucial elements of the visual merchandising processes, demonstrating how brick-and-mortar retailers can grab the attention of customers, since research has shown that 60% of customers in-store want to be surprised.

To this end, noted Andreas Gesswein, the CEO of Genesis Display GmbH, mannequins that display movement are becoming more mainstream. Also, white is in this year, and silver is “really smashing right now.” Customised or bespoke mannequins are becoming the only way to go, as off-the-shelf solutions no longer meet the needs of retailers. These mannequins, he added, are figures that need to be transformation artists in a way, while he further suggested that these ever-important elements of visual merchandising need to reflect the corporate identity of the retailer. The implication, of course, is that a shopper walking in a store will be reminded of the store brand they are interfacing with at that moment.

Tom van Soest, Director of Visual Retailing BV, agreed that VM is still really important, but if it was possible to link it to a digital platform to get feedback from customers once they had seen it, then it would ultimately optimise the shopping experience.

Annemarie Otten, Project Manager at Formfactory GmbH & CO. KG, spoke about specific tastes that are taking hold in VM at the moment. Nature and plants, she stated, are a big theme at present. Last year it was flowers, but this year it’s green and cactus. Digitalisation of the shop window is critical, she admitted, but it has to be done properly to tie back to the overall strategy of the store.

POP marketing was the next focal point of EuroShop. Catching the customer’s eye with the most attractive and most fascinating installations for the point of sale is where the customer decides which product to buy. Hugo Braz, Business Unit Director at PLM Retail Specialists, was quoted as saying, “What we try to do is always engage the customer. We find different ways where technology plays a role. People not only see but they can also touch and be surprised by lots of different experiences.” He said that retailers have different objectives: for some it is creating awareness of a specific product, while for others it is imperative to drive sales, so the objective is to link technology in helping to achieve that outcome.

Another focal point was sustainability, which explored how investments in energy efficiency pay for themselves, whether these are refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, heat recovery, or building technology. Energy-efficient solutions, stated EuroShop, offer great potential to save energy in retail, and for this reason, many retailers are considering investments in energy-efficient systems. Hans Ole Matthiesen, Global Segment Director of Food Retail at Danfoss Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, elaborated on the concept of the smart store, which is integrating systems for maximum efficiency. In Europe, for example, this would include re-using the heating removed from the aircon units or refrigeration systems to warm the store. Martin Wenzel, of the Executive Board of Hörburger AG, explained that cloud-based systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) were part of the digital transformation that is having a significant impact on building automation.

Another focal point was brand communication, which focused on successful ways to present the retail brand. Although some of the material presented was specifically aimed at successful trade fair appearances, it is not a stretch to make it relevant to retailers with customers. As such, communication is more than just product presentation, with companies today having to create a visual, haptic and emotional experience, suggested EuroShop. Chris Wendel, Creative Director & Partner at Von Hagen Design, specified that architecture and design really contribute to the brand experience, all the way through the exhibit (whether this be at a trade fair or in a retail setting), thus it is paramount to carry the brand experience throughout in terms of the architecture used, be that the materials, the lighting, or the colour – all of these elements, he said, start to represent the brand experience itself.

Kalbfleisch of Kommunikationsverband, spoke of the importance of digitisation and VR, or virtual reality, in terms of how these elements affect display. Simon Damböck, Executive Partner at Atelier Damböck Messebau GmbH, endorsed this sentiment when he said that it has become necessary to integrate VR into display, and that it needs to tell a story. It is important to remember, he added, that VR it just part of the overall story, so it cannot replace, only augment.

Retail technology, or the idea of making shopping an adventure, was high on the EuroShop agenda. Modern technology, EuroShop noted, makes the lives of retailers more comfortable since it saves time and connects all shopping channels, while for customers, it can offer a seamless and interactive shopping experience. Retailers who make shopping an adventure win their customers’ hearts, EuroShop proclaimed, so part of the solution is to offer customers a virtual experience in the store. Charles Jackson, Executive Vice President at Pricer AB, said that retailers need to improve the mobile experience. Showing customers where the promotions are, showing them where the products are, confirming that the products are in the store is becoming a real challenge, he noted, and offered a tangible point of differentiation for those retailers who can do it. Electronic shelf labels are becoming part of that digitisation, so the ability to locate the electronic shelf label has become important to shoppers, because then they can locate the product, which obviates the need to find a shop assistant – especially relevant in a large store like Game or Pick n Pay Hyper.

Deidre Doyle, Marketing & Communication Manager for Gunnebo AB, stipulated the importance of turning oneself into the consumer, to understand what it is that the consumer needs. “It doesn’t matter what the product or solution we are trying to sell is, we need to think of the journey that the customer takes,” adding that this could become an adventure.

The final focal point was retail lighting, which is moving in the direction of smart, emotional and flexible, noted EuroShop, with LED technologies that offer retailers new ways to emotionally position products centre stage. Alessandro Sachs, International Commercial Director for Regent Lighting, explained that thanks to LED, it is now possible to individually adapt the correct colour temperature required for the displayed product, so for meat, fish, bakery products, or in fashion, as examples. Since white is no longer white, he said, it becomes possible to underline the big differences within white, which can enhance the visual appeal of products – which takes it full circle back to VM.

EuroShop returns to Düsseldorf in 2020

Source: With thanks to EuroShop

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