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Archive for the ‘Environmental Graphics’ Category

Custom Printing: The Place of Digital Printing in “Retailtainment”

Monday, August 26th, 2019

On the one hand I like it when new words are created. I was a Literature major in college. On the other hand, I know to look closely when this happens. (An example is when Photoshop was turned from a noun—the computer program—into a verb, as in “just Photoshop” the image, meaning “Turn the fuzzy, low-res image into a crisp, press-ready photo.”

So when I heard the word “Retailtainment,” I was both intrigued and wary. It seemed to tell me something about the shift in buying trends, and in this particular case I think it signals an outcome that will be favorable to commercial printing.

The Thesis: Canon’s Approach to Contemporary Sales

That said, I read an article today entitled “The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor.” I read it on www.africanews.com. It was published on 06/29/19 by Canon-CNA.com (Canon Central and North Africa—CCNA, presumably presented as a press release).

The background (not noted in the article but definitely noted anecdotally in many of the articles I’ve read over the past few years) is that the Internet has drawn traffic away from retail stores. This is nothing new. I would think most people would agree that it’s easier to buy online. Nevertheless, you miss a few things when you do this. You don’t see the product, and you can’t interact with the knowledgeable sales rep in the store. The Africa News article bears this out.

Canon notes “the importance of the settings and ambiences of physical shops as they become more than just a buying space, an opportunity for the brand to build and maintain relationships with its customers” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”). Canon then goes further to say that a lot of this ambience comes from décor that is ideally suited to production via digital custom printing.

The press release then notes that “just under 90 percent of worldwide retail sales still take place in physical stores” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”). This actually surprised me, given my own, and my fiancee’s, avid use of the “buy now” button on any number of websites. But Canon’s press release goes on to identify the things you cannot get online (“atmosphere, face-to-face customer service, and the ability to see and try products”).

Because of this, the goal of retail stores is shifting rather than dying out (since, according to Canon’s article, they “play a role in sales 79 percent of the time and excel at converting interest to sales”).

What this means is that buyers will spend time in a retail store if they feel it is a good use of their time: that is, if it’s interesting, educational, and fun. This is why sports stores often have climbing walls, why home repair stores often have classes in how to do your own plumbing, and why cooking stores often provide a restaurant, food to cook, cooking equipment, and cooking classes. The more time a retail store can hold the interest of potential clients, the larger the amount of money they will spend. Why? Because they’re enjoying the experience.

Canon’s article goes on to say that the retail establishments “that continue to thrive are those embracing ‘omni-channel’ strategies; focusing on delivering a seamless customer experience across every channel where they have a presence—physical stores, catalogs, e-commerce, mobile, social media, and more” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”).

People these days seem to value experiences more than things (according to Canon’s article), and therefore to keep the interest of a customer, a retailer has to “engage shoppers with the emotional and multi-sensory experiences that are missing from online purchases.”

What this means to me is that there’s a lot of room for commercial printing technology and products in this new retail experience.

Moreover, the goal is to ensure a seamless transition from one channel to another: from the in-store experience to the online experience to the print collateral. Potential customers must recognize the branding. It must be consistent as the customer transitions from one marketing channel to the next.

Canon calls this a “unified journey” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”).

“Retailtainment” and the In-Store Environment

Canon states that the goal is to create “spaces where customers want to spend time” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”). This is the “experience economy,” according to Canon. The approach may have started thirty years ago, but Canon sees a transformation particularly over the last ten years. The customer’s in-store goal has become “time well spent.” This has led to “showroom-style environments that encourage customers to experience products…to linger” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”).

And one thing that all retail environments need to provide captivating environments that never become boring is compelling décor. “Atmosphere” and “sensory appeal” are essential to creating an “immersive experience,” according to “The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor.” And digital custom printing is ideally suited to all of these goals.

Digial custom printing excels at making environments new, trendy, and continually different for an economical price, especially if designers and retailers approach environmental upgrades as changing the skin of the retail store: that is, updating the wall and floor coverings, the images adorning the surfaces of the environment, rather than moving the walls.

You can completely transform an environment, making it surprising and new, with large format graphics from commercial printing vendors on all surfaces: walls, floors, cabinets. And a novel environment encourages customers to come back again and again to see something new.

According to “The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor,” “51 percent of customers are more likely to buy from brands whose stores are ‘interesting or different.’” This encourages repeat visits, and repeat visits foster continued spending.

This means the in-store goal has shifted, according to Canon, from “directly driving sales” to “creating a branded experience…reflecting the ‘personality’ of the brands…and encouraging dwell time” (“The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”).

Moreover, since social media has become the leading motivator for customers’ choosing one brand over another (i.e., making buying decisions based on the recommendations of family and friends), brands are increasingly focusing on maintaining a consistent branded experience, from the retail store to the Internet experience, to the catalog, and also encouraging the use of social media within the retail store. For instance, this might mean providing ample opportunities for selfie photos that can be shared on social media with the customers’ friends and family.

What this means from the point of view of a designer and commercial printing vendor is that the environment must be kept fresh and enticing with digitally printed environmental graphics.

The Place of Digital Custom Printing in “Retailtainment”

Canon notes the following in its article, “The Age of ‘Retailtainment’: How Digital Disruption Is Driving Trends in Physical Retail Decor”:

  1. Digital custom printing helps create a trendy environment “with minimal disruption” and “within tight budget constraints.”
  2. Digital printing is flexible and cost effective in enhancing a branded environment.
  3. Retail companies can provide unique wallpaper, displays, floor and window graphics, and other surface imagery consistent with their brand.
  4. The goal is to welcome and captivate the customer. Digital printing plays an integral part in this experience.

What You Can Learn from This Article by Canon

  1. Design skills are essential. If you understand how to create a consistent brand image over multiple channels (print, environmental, social, mobile, e-commerce), you will always be employed.
  2. Learn everything you can about the technological aspects (as well as the design aspects) of all marketing channels: print, digital, and e-commerce. The more you understand the specifics, the more in demand you will be.
  3. Study the psychology behind all channels. Understand what motivates various customer groups (segments) such as Baby Boomers and Millennials. Understand how they approach buying decisions differently. If you can understand their values and motivations, you can better communicate with them through all marketing channels.
  4. Understand the options you have within the realm of commercial printing. This means knowing what technologies are relevant for particular purposes, such as offset lithography, inkjet printing, and laser printing. (For instance, people still trust catalogs because there is something about their physical permanence that the Internet does not offer. So, in this case, the more you know about the offset printing process and what your options are for paper, ink, cover coatings, etc., the more in demand you will be. In contrast, one-off printed products like wall banners depend more on digital printing technology.)
  5. The short version: The more you know, the more valuable you will be.

Final Words

I have two final things to share:

I had an “Aha” moment about fifteen years ago when I realized that eating out wasn’t about food. It was about entertainment. The dining out experience had become an event.

I had a similar “Aha” moment today in Best Buy, when I realized that they were doing exactly what the Canon article was espousing. I could see it in the Best Buy signage and other environmental branding, in their digital presentation on the small computers in the store, and even in our interactions with the sales reps. When we were leaving, my fiancee noted that she had had a good time when we were in the store. Point taken.

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