It has digital components, of course, a few less employees, and in all likelihood a giant screen that lets consumers virtually interact with merchandise with the touch of a finger. That's what Avenue/A Razorfish is betting anyway. On Wednesday, I made my way over to the agency's eighth annual Client Summit where they were showcasing prototypes of digital retail experiences for clients, including one they've already made for AT&T.
The idea, John McVay, VP and client partner to AT&T, told me is "to break away from the concept that digital is equal to the web. Digital is much more about connecting experiences."
In other words, if everything else in a consumer's life is connected through digital, shopping should be, too.
The AT&T store experience, a pilot in 12 stores nationwide, puts kiosks with screens equipped with Microsoft Surface technology in stores. The screens allow customers to pull up images of merchandise with a touch of the hand, giving them tactile, direct control of data. For example, to find out about a phone's coverage area, a customer can pull up a map on the screen, put his fingers around the area he lives and works, and actually see the lines of service that will work in his plan. (Beats hearing about it from a sales rep.) The customer can pull up different models of the merchandise on the screen, play with the features virtually and even compare two models side-by-side without the use of a mouse.
Another venture on display Wednesday was a partnership with iGotcha, a media company specializing in digital signage networks. In a prototype for client J.C. Penney, Avenue A displayed a huge storefront screen that lets consumers browse a store's merchandise by hand, mix and match outfits, check price points and more. Using the screen, a consumer could put together an ensemble, save garments to an account and then purchase them online.
Another prototype Avenue A showed was in partnership with Reactrix, an interactive out-of-home media company that displays interactive ads on the floor of malls. One ad for AT&T played off a 30-second TV spot airing now, which shows mobile phones popping out of flowers to the tune of "Daydream in Blue." If a customer steps on a flower, a phone pops out, and if he steps on the phone, he gets more information about it, such as price points and information about the nearest store to purchase the phone.
Putting tactile, intuitive, digital media in stores and malls is a natural progression of consumer habits, said Avenue A's Patrick Morehead. But the true test of how effective the store of the future will be whether or not it can actually drive sales. Avenue A seems to be betting it will.