In-store experience lab launched to combat online retail surge

A new customer experience ‘lab’ has opened to help retailers boost the quality of their in-store experience as they fight to ward off the threat of online retail.

Digital signage and softwear provider AOPEN and retail design firm Red Design Group have partnered to launch the ‘Retail Evolution Lab’ — a space established to “empower retail businesses to design, test and trial new retail technologies in a ‘real’ in-store environment”.

The Melbourne-based lab allows retailers to test custom-store environments; technology such as digital signage, touch devices and facial recognition; and elements of storefronts, signage and price labels to determine consumer engagement.

“With global online retail brands like ASOS and Amazon now part of a shopaholic’s everyday conversation alongside local favorites, there’s no disputing that customers are demanding convenient and engaging ways to shop both online and offline,” says Stephen Borg, global strategy director for AOPEN.

Latest industry statistics reveal online retail sales rose to an estimated $13 billion in the year to January 2013 — growth of 27% year on year — to account for 5.8% of total retails sales (excluding food).

Total retail sales by comparion, grew by only 3% year on year according to the ABS.

In-store experience, an area where many Australian retailers are criticised for their lacklustre performence, is billed as one of the keys to keeping bricks-and-mortar retailers relevant and competitive.