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We’re a culture obsessed with the “Weather Channel.” Or at least it feels that way several months out of the year as we live from snowstorm report to snowstorm report. If you were in New York last month attending NRF’s Big Show, you know what I’m talking about. There were almost as many conversations on the showfloor asking “Has your flight been canceled?” as “Did you see that cool new technology over there?”

When I got back into the office (thankfully, with no canceled or rerouted flights from New York to Cincinnati), there was an e-mail message from Urban Outfitters saying “Snowed In? Shop Online with Us.”

Even though I wasn’t, I appreciated the we’re-in-touch-with-you sentiment. And even for e-mail, it felt personal. True, a large segment of their consumer base, from Atlanta to Boston, was probably experiencing some sort of weather-related delay. But who doesn’t enjoy a little shopping inspiration – especially with a discount attached to it.

This simple e-mail also illustrates a brand that gets it. After all, retail is all about the experience, and just because a shopper can’t make it into your store on a particular day doesn’t mean you should lose contact.

One of the biggest challenges for retailers in 2011 is learning to link all brand touchpoints together. Gone are the days when your in-store experience was separate from your online experience, from your Facebook experience. Today, it’s all about one seamless experience.

But retailers need some help. As Jim Crawford, executive director of the Global Retail Executive Council and a principal at Taberna Retail (Los Angeles), points out in his debut column “Next Store” (see February issue, page 16 or click here), consumers have rapidly adopted new technologies in their daily lives while retail stores are stuck back in the ’90s with clunky kiosks and overhead TV monitors.

His vision of the future involves not only more advanced, immersive in-store technologies but also design and retail professionals who design with the entire experience in mind, including at home, on-the-go and in the store.

“We’ll use this column to explore many of the technologies creating the biggest impact on the next-generation shopping experience,” says Crawford, “not from the IT-centric point of view, but rather how they become tools for the store designer to create artful experiences.”

Today that experience that can start anywhere. At the storefront. In the fitting room. With a computer screen on a snowy day. The important detail isn’t where it started. It’s about focusing on how to keep it going.




MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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