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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

EuroShop 2014

So the growing beast that is EuroShop is here once more. And what a trip!

The sprawling mass of wears for the retail world felt endless. I mean, how many mannequins does the world really need?! 13 hanger-style halls showcased the worlds best innovations and products our weird little world has to give. It was vast.

Shifting through it was challenging (an epic 5472 Nike Fuel points gained on Sunday alone!) But don't get us wrong, look deep and you'll find some gems.

Kendu have potentially changed retail fitout forever! Using a simple banner technology that has been around for years, they have now integrated it within a system to create a space that you could realistically change the entire ambience of a store within a matter of hours! Instead of wall finishes the banner system creates the entire ambience of the space integrated within the retail system, cupboards, drawers and doors.  Add interactive lighting, magnetic panels and solid fitting structures behind the system and you have and totally changeable physical representation of your latest campaign. Genius.

Baro lighting took the lighting hall by storm. Demonstrating LED technology in such a simple, elegant and relevant way that was reminiscent of the iGuzzini set up of days gone by, they engaged and wowed visitors with every step. Clever trick too. Hiring two stands either side of the walkway and forcing visitors right through the centre of the stand by bridging at both high and low levels.

The Visplay stand once again oozed excellence and precision but with an unexpected twist this year. The stand (probably one of the biggest) was constructed of recyclable plastic storage boxes promoting Visplays ever green credentials. Their new systems have yet again set the bar another notch higher and be sure, the rest will copy.

Schweitzer went all out with their Dept 3.0. A completely different approach from Visplay, their stand was based around the experience of retail and the wonders that can be achieved in the physical world. Crossing design, PM, rollout and bespoke construction, they have definitely carved a niche for themselves. Their freestanding kiosk designs were inspired by a piece of genius! Unrestricted by plumbing needs, they turned the requirements of water volume in to a talking point that mesmerised visitors beyond belief. Something so pure in such volume looked beautiful and yet it came from necessity. 

Slightly geeky, was the dynamics of quick lay vinyl flooring from Polyflor that looked just like any normal floor but without the need to adhere it in place. Once again, great for speed of fit out and no different from any normal vinyl flooring.  

For those in food retail, Norpe have developed a super slick fresh food chiller with clever double tier display. The top for fresh, the bottom for pre-packaged, leveraging the trend of associated-quality for convenience.

Also in food, Ansorgs illuminated wine bottle holders made the product look stunning! Imagine a store with almost no ambient lighting and walls lined with these holders.....! Nice.

What really stood out though, was the divide between digital and physical. Which was strange when you consider how all the talks (most, shockingly low in content) where about the two worlds coming together to create a new experience in retail. You only had to stand back and look at the expenditure on both sectors stands to clearly see where the largest proportion of cash was being spent. The physical-worlds stands dwarfed those in the digital arena, perhaps proving the physical need and desire of the customer is still very much at the forefront of retail.

When most talked about digital it was embarrassing. Missing the key component, wonderfully highlighted by the Managing Director Leasing at ECE, Klaus Striebich, was the emotional value on the retail experience. The talk titled the future of Omichannel would yet again take us down the path of the Google bread checkout experience if they had their way. One that becomes void of human interaction and simply a box ticking exercise. If that's what the future of physical retail holds, give me a hut on a deserted island any day.

The one truly incredible integrated experience came from LK-AG. Utilising the recently launched iBeacon technology, they demonstrated the ease and beauty of proximity marketing. Whether for sales or experience alone, this technology goes past permission marketing and NFC to give real value through cross platform retail in the real world. And for £100 for 3 beacons, great value too!

At last Verifone iPhone mobile payment device was on show readily available to the masses. So perhaps the day of the cash desk is no more? Especially with rumours that Apple may be about to launch their own payment system powered by iBeacons and the new iWatch. Watch this space.

Axis Communications have teamed up with Visualise and are offering analytics through their security devices. Providing quantifiable data to help understand customer behaviour it will only be a matter of time when all stores have this integrated as part of their storer design. As Google have shown, data is key.

As always, alongside the giants were the newcomers and those challenging convention in their own way.

NUD we're displaying their beautifully simple colour flexes with an array of wonderful lamps attached. Want a cheap but visually stunning lighting feature? Why not try stringing up 50 of these up and see the impact they make!

In the 'Made in China' section, there were some beautifully crafted mannequins most noticeably the 'face-on' ones. You could have some real fun with these.

Multplx were milling around too with their super-fresh range of incredibly well designed security devices for mobile and tablets. Taking inspiration from Apple designed goods, security never looked so sexy. 

And lastly, the beautifully holistic concepts from Molo. Using paper and recycled PET, Molo has created naturally inspiring lights, screens and tables that challenge the considered normal constructions. The 3m high acoustic screen actually cut out all the noise of the show and created an area of calm in an otherwise bonkers environment.

In summary:
1. A great show not to be missed, though be prepared to dig deep to find the good stuff. 
2. The worlds of digital and physical are still massively separated
3. Never underestimate the emotional connections forged by face to face experiences

Ps apologies for the lack of our usual info sharing through twitter. One of the worlds biggest shows had no free wifi and wanted to charge 8 euros an hour! Epic fail :(

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