Now that architects and interior designers use digital displays along with printed graphics, the Society of Environmental Graphic Designers (SEGD) has become the “Society of Experiential Graphic Designers.” The SEGD helps create content-rich, emotionally compelling, experiential spaces for retail stores, museums, healthcare centers and educational campuses.
Former SEGD Director of Education Craig M. Berger is currently director of development of CD Pathways at New York’s FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). He says, “Window display designers have to be incredibly creative. But they have to realize their artistry is being applied to a money-making enterprise.”
Right now, he says retailers are finding it difficult to determine the ROI of different types of displays. Berger believes that retail windows are still more likely to use physical elements and mechanical motion than digital displays. As more technology is used within the store, Berger believes windows with tactile displays can counteract a shopper’s sense of digital overload.
Window displays in urban areas might also differ from those in re-imagined malls and small-city shopping districts. “In New York, Christmas window spectaculars still reign supreme,” Berger says. In smaller cities, retailers are investing in pop-up stores at events that draw crowds.
With the growth of e-tailing, stores are no longer simply about selling things. Stores today function as showrooms, gathering places or distribution centers. Even brands and e-commerce companies recognize the value of having a few of their own pop-up or permanent physical stores.
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Right now, retailers are testing many design approaches. Shop can help by serving as innovators, consultants and execution partners. Follow trends in retail store design, display technology and window-graphic materials.
Companies such as Arlon, Avery-Dennison, Clear Focus, Continental Graphics, FLEXcon, Mactac, 3M Commercial Solutions, LINTEC of America, Contra Vision, LexJet and Nekoosa — among others — offer dozens of materials for window displays. LexJet sells perforated vinyls, low-tack polyester films, PVC-free clings and self-adhesive fabrics from Avery Dennison, Avatrex, GBC, General Formulations, HP, LexJet and Photo Tex.
According to LexJet’s Shaun Jaycox, retailers equipped with aqueous-inkjet printers can use LexJet’s Crystal Low-Tack window film to print short-term graphics for the inside or outside of store windows. Many retail designers favor frosted surfaces, because the graphics can be backlit to make storefront images visible at night.
Window displays can also include banner-stands, printed fabrics, hanging signs and rigid backdrops with layered printing. Plus, the printed graphics can be used in conjunction with digital signage.
“Retailers are beginning to see storefront digital signage as an integral part of their brand,” says Steve Bayer of Daktronics. “These displays provide a dynamic canvas for pictures, graphics and video that capture attention. In some cities, in-window digital signage is easier to permit. So, each store location needs to explore what’s possible.”
On the Windowswear website, you can see images of more than 110,000 windows and displays from more than 700 brands. Window design teams visit Windowswear to see what’s trending in stores in New York, Paris, Milan, London, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Tokyo and other cities.
In LINTEC of America’s white paper “Decorative Digital Interiors for Today’s Retail Spaces,” Jim Halloran and John Coyne encourage architects and store designers to use decorative window films both in storefront windows and elsewhere in-store.
“While many retailers are experimenting with HD screens, interactive displays and other digital devices to attract the attention of window shoppers, digitally printed window graphics and window frosts continue to be one of the most popular ways to attract customers to a store interior,” says Jim Halloran, VP of sales and marketing for LINTEC of America. He notes that advanced window films can change the opacity of glass depending on the viewing angle. So, as a shopper passes by, a frosted window suddenly reveals the featured merchandise.
Although many store designers know about the many materials available, they still want guidance on how to create amazing displays within defined budgets.
“When clients come in, we’re not just order takers,” says Glenn Rabbach of Duggal Visual Solutions. “We’re not afraid to offer new concepts.”
“Ultimately, technology alone won’t pique the interest of most customers,” Hallaron says. “The right combination of technology and design will determine how well retail stores fare in the future.”