A panel of retail design firm representatives agreed that the technology expected to change the retail experience has yet to make a powerful entrance. While all acknowledged that existing technology has the potential to support the in-store service function, speed up transactions, provide information and help enhance the shopping experience, it has been largely misused up to now.
"Shoppers just don't seem to want to engage the interactive kiosks," said Mark Artus, executive vice president and managing director of Fitch Inc. (Worthington, Ohio).
"And why should they?" agreed Aaron Spiess, vp, account executive, Retail Planning Associates (Columbus, Ohio). "Retailers try to recreate the home Internet experience with touch-screen kiosks. It never seems to occur to them that people don't use touch-screen technology at home, they uses a mouse and keys."
The panelists were convened by the Cincinnati chapter of the Institute of Store Planners on Friday, September 29, at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati. "It's the first time this group has ever sat down and discussed industry issues," said Dick Glass of Design Group 2 (Cincinnati) and president of the local ISP chapter. Panelists included: Artus; Dennis Gerdeman, principal, Chute Gerdeman (Columbus); Lynn Gonsior, executive vice president, Design Forum (Dayton, Ohio); Spiess; and Jan Tribbey, vp, account executive, FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati).
Gerdeman said he felt the in-store kiosk could be a valuable source of information. "It can be designed to drive sales," he said, "and replace diminishing in-store service." Artus predicted that the most explosive new in-store technology will be WAP (wireless applications protocol) devices that allow shoppers to access information and even log onto the Internet while they shop."
"Part of our job is to help make in-store technology easier to maintain and function ," said Tribbey, "and to help manage the process for the retailer."