A few members of our team were lucky enough to have a day away from the office and join in the excitement on the second day of the Retail Design Expo 2016 at the impressive Olympia London venue in Hammersmith.

On the lookout for interesting stories, new technologies, trends and insights, we prepared ourselves with the best fuel we know- coffee and Danish (of course!).


The overwhelming 14,355 sqm venue was full to the brim so, as you can imagine, there was a lot to cover in a day (we needed more than one coffee to keep us going). The most beneficial part of the Expo for us were the talks held in Theatres 1 and 2 on the balcony level. These hosted a variety of speakers from differing backgrounds discussing everything from refurbishing one of the UK’s oldest (and most loved) department stores to the future of the car-buying experience. In between the talks we managed to squeeze in some browsing around the stands and a sneak peek at emerging trends within the world of retail.

There’s so much we could tell you about our visit, (but that might take all day), so instead, here’s our rundown of our Top 3 favourite exhibitors and speakers from the expo.


#1 NEC

With digital screens as far as the eye could see, the exceptional clarity of the NEC TVs and their impressive touch-screen functionality was what drew us in. However, what piqued our interest the most was the Quividi screen that has an in-built camera capable of identifying the person looking at the screen (think Minority Report!). We weren’t too impressed with being given an average age that was 10 years over our actual average (we’re all 25… honest!) but the technology was capable of correctly identifying gender, facial expressions and even a moustache!

This technology is opening up new opportunities for screen displays within the retail environment, by being able to provide both customer analytics and, ultimately, the marketing dream of individually targeted marketing content.

As this technology becomes available for regular use the big question will be, how will brands choose to utilise it? We have some thoughts on this… but we’ll keep them for another post.


The Dalziel & Pow installation incorporated an interactive stand that was capable of recognising a variety of objects placed on a shelf and then displayed content about the chosen item on screens positioned behind the object (it was also really fun to play with!). A clever idea underpinned by beautifully designed animations that show design’s power to be “playful, accessible and engaging”.


We’ll be honest, this was one of the funniest parts of the day. A playful (and some might say flirtatious) projected monkey dressed in a sailor suit having a chat with the passing crowd was a great demonstration of their talents. We did try to have a chat, but unfortunately the Monkey was otherwise engaged with a tall beautiful visitor... next year maybe?



Simon Dixon, Founder – Rockar Hyundai

What was it all about?
The talk focused on the design and success of the Rockar store based in Bluewater and the leading role digital plays at every stage of the customer journey, from initial online browsing on your own device, to full wall in-store digital marketing displays.

What did we learn about Rockar?

  • Rockar’s focus is giving the customer power and knowledge.
  • The future for cars is paying for usage, not ownership.
  • There are no competing price points within the store.
  • The brand decided to opt for less of a masculine look and feel for the store design, as often seen within traditional automotive retail designs.
  • The “Rockar Angels” (in store staff) are at the heart of the business model for Rockar Hyundai. They have no car sales background, no sales targets and no script to follow. They simply guide the customer through the process.
  • No more paper work. The journey is completely paperless.
  • Their retailing future is to look towards a fully mobile journey.

Crunching the numbers

  • Average footfall of a car showroom is 500-600 per year, the Bluewater Rockar store receives more than this in one afternoon.
  • The average Rockar customer is 39, compared to the industrywide average age of 50
  • 60% of visitors are female
  • 50% of Rockar customers complete the sales process on line

Why we loved it?
Not only do we have a few petrol heads in the team, but we have worked with some of the UK’s most respected car brands with relationships stretching back over 18 years. We’re passionate to understand more about our clients' industries, whether that be the current climate or challenges, future thinking and trends, or competitor research.


Guy Cheston, Media Sales Director – Harrods

What was it all about?
The talk captured Harrods' digital journey over the past 10 years and how, moving forwards, they want to continue being leaders in using new technologies. Guy also talked about how luxury brands should be using digital displays effectively within the retail environment.

What did we learn from Harrods?

  • It is crucial to have the right screen in the right place.
  • They have managed to reduce 250 individual light box posters to a small number of large video walls.
  • The video content they display is on a loop that lasts no longer than 15 seconds.
  • They use Quividi technology (remember these guys from earlier?) so that video content displayed is tailored to the right audience.
  • They're looking into using LED screens.

Digital display projects from Harrods that are worth a look

  • Interactive digital window display for the launch of Dawn from Rolls Royce.
  • External dual screens promoting EKOCYCLE and starring none other than Will.i.am.

Why we loved it?
The presentation was a great mix between old and new, making reference to the opening of the first moving escalator, which was so revolutionary at time that customers were greeted by a glass of brandy at the top.

It was great to see that a store with a wealth of history, is leading the way in digital thinking.


Craig Phillipson – Shopworks
Will Green, UK Convenience Manager, Shell

What was it all about?
Craig and Will talked us through the creation of a credible ‘food on the go’ offer for Shell, whilst maintaining relevance to their fuel customers. The talk focused on the importance of customer research in identifying shopper behaviour and missions, as well as the role of design in transforming the customer journey and shopper experience, ultimately influencing buying behaviour.

What did we learn?

  • A reminder of some of the most simple (but important) retailing principles.
  • The ‘Road Warrior’ is Shell’s most valuable customer segment.
  • The traditional fuel offer had created ‘automatic’ behaviour where customers expected to walk straight to the counter and leave.
  • The value of customer research, with qualitative insight helping to inform big design decisions.
  • A large part of the strategy was to change the store layout to disrupt customer flow and expose them to wider browsing opportunities.

Crunching the numbers

  • The average male shopper's peripheral vision is 60˚, whereas a woman’s is 65˚.
  • You will only ever sell something at a 1.2m distance from your shopper.
  • 20 of the 400 store formats changed after implementation, with the change driven by local competition.
  • The new store formats provided Shell with increased profitability across the board, even at a time when fuel consumption is lowering due to increasing vehicle efficiency.

Why we loved it?
For designers, it’s fantastic to see a well-informed, properly researched project with design following a sound, thought out strategy, which this project clearly did. To also have a passionate client on board, with a great understanding and respect for the importance of a clearly defined customer journey is a dream. It was a pleasure to watch Craig and Will speak on the day.


It comes as no surprise that the general vibe taken from the day is that we can expect to see more and more digital introduced in to the retail environment. What isn’t so obvious is how retailers will choose to utilise these ever more accessible technologies – our advice is to not use technology just to have a digital presence. With a clearly mapped Customer journey and understanding of Customer needs, technology can be used to enhance experiences but digital screens for their own sake will just not work.

Retailers are also looking to make the most of the physical presence that a traditional shop environment has to offer. In an ever-growing digital world, the physical retail environment is more important than ever in providing an opportunity to immerse customers in your brand experience. The traditional cashdesk might be dead but a credible, physical brand presence is truly alive!

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