Interactive merchandising on the rise

Philip Gilbert is national sales and marketing manager for Creative Displayworks, a Concord, Ont.-based designer and manufacturer of custom store fixtures and merchandising concepts. Earlier this spring, he attended GlobalShop 2000 in Chicago, a leading North American showcase for the latest...

Philip Gilbert is national sales and marketing manager for Creative Displayworks, a Concord, Ont.-based designer and manufacturer of custom store fixtures and merchandising concepts. Earlier this spring, he attended GlobalShop 2000 in Chicago, a leading North American showcase for the latest in retail display innovations. For this report, Strategy asked him to discuss some of the trends and developments he noted while walking the show floor.

The size and scope of GlobalShop 2000 were nothing if not spectacular. In all, the event boasted 1,200-plus exhibitors, occupying more than a million square feet. Retailers and brand marketers from around the world spent hours wandering through the five exhibition halls, all seeking that one concept that would put them on the leading edge of merchandise presentation.

So why was it just a little underwhelming? Maybe because GlobalShop is held annually – which means that a lot of what was on display had also been there the previous year. (For this reason, many may prefer Germany’s EuroShop. That show only takes place every three years, and the long hiatus gives exhibitors more incubating time to hatch new store fixture and merchandising ideas. The next EuroShop is scheduled for February 2002.)

Nevertheless, some noteworthy trends did make themselves evident in Chicago.

The most exciting of these is interactive merchandising – essentially, the use of technology to give consumers access to more product information at the point of purchase. Benjamin Moore & Co. in the U.S., for example, has recently introduced a system called Color Preview to their network of dealers. The system allows consumers to choose from a palette of more than 1,400 colours, and "insert" computer-generated colour samples into a three-dimensional simulated room, so that they can better gauge whether the shade is to their liking. It will even show how the paint is likely to appear under different lighting conditions.

Jenn-Air, meanwhile, has introduced an interactive kiosk to help promote its refrigerators at the retail level. The kiosk features 15 different backlit photo panels, each of which displays a different model in a different kitchen environment. By pressing a button located beneath each picture, consumers can listen to an audio presentation on the product’s features. A lot of thought has clearly gone into the physical design of this display, too: With its curved, natural birch veneer columns and black melamine panels, the kiosk’s look is in keeping with Jenn-Air’s reputation for high-quality products.

Interactive displays like these work to everyone’s benefit. They offer customers a wealth of product information, without demanding a great deal of the retailer’s valuable floor space.

The use of giant-sized and multi-screen television monitors is also on the upswing – particularly in areas such as fashion merchandising. What better way, after all, to give the couturier’s runway a presence at retail, where the actual buying decision is made? Those retailers who can’t justify an investment in this technology may opt instead for large, backlit lifestyle image posters – another increasingly popular means of shaping mood and mind-set.

From the evidence at GlobalShop, store planners have begun to place increasing emphasis on the use of specialized lighting and bright colours. The use of acrylics is also making a resurgence in fixture design, along with new applications and finishes, such as fluorescent edge treatments in exotic colours.

Electronic retail is expected to continue its rapid expansion in the months ahead – and as it does so, it will present an increasing challenge to conventional bricks-and-mortar retail stores. Retail merchants and mall developers must give consumers good reasons to leave the comfort of their homes (and the glare of their monitors) in order to fight for parking space at the local shopping centre. The store, once simply a place to shop, must become an "entertainment" destination. The shopping experience must become fun.

In short, there’s a battle going on for customers now. And to win it, retail executives and product merchandisers will need to tap the latest in innovative presentation concepts.

Also in this report:

- Harry gets hip with casual campaign: Upscale retailer makes a play for younger, "new economy" business executives p.24

- POP progress slow but sure: With the promise of credible data, point-of-purchase is poised to prove its worth as a medium p.25

- North West Co. nurtures roots: Retailer supports local activities in remote communities throughout the north p.27

- Traditional retailers can thrive in online world p.27

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.