Everybody knows by now that being a retailer means operating a multi-channel-business. This does not necessarily imply having an e-shop and a real shop, but it rather means being visible in various ways, communicate in various ways and sell in different ways. Whether you use Instagram, Facebook, post-oder to do the job is not the issue, it is telling your story, the brand story, across all these channels, converting the same message, that is the true challenge.

You know how hard it is to read a written message in the same way the author meant to write it (look at Twitter messages, emails, etc. that are often wrongly understood). So, you can imagine how difficult it is to have your design of the store convert the (authentic) brand message, your personnel breathing the brand message, having the selection of the products you sell fitting within this brand message, etc. The difficulty today is that the message is not limited to the store anymore, but reaches various channels and media. Getting across the correct message, regardless the channel used, is Live retail doing.

Why do you need Live retail doing? Because of expectations. As a retailer you have no clue when and how the first contact of a customer with your store or product took place. Whatever first contact he or she had with you, converted a message, created expectations. For example, a customer has found your new fancy new website online and decides to visit your store. The image you created on the website is converted into exceptions in terms of the look and feel of the store, quality, etc. But, when the customer arrives at the store, he finds an outdated store, waiting to be refurbished. This is a discrepancy in his mind, he thought he new what to expect, but reality kicks in. No problem you think? Let’s personify this experience, you see a George Clooney type (pardon me for my preferences) on Tinder or Facebook and you decide to meet him, but when you actually meet the guy, he is more of a Mister Bean type. Imagine the disappointment. From that point, you will delete Bean from your contact list and you will feel betrayed. A customer will have the same respons when his expectations are not met, unless you manage to convince him/her that the inner is more important than the way somebody looks. But than you need a chance to talk to him, which is not always the case. I hear you think, but what if you expect and want Mister Bean and you get George Clooney, would that not be great? No, if you go for Beans dry humor, you will be disappointed with Georges charming offensive.

So, how do we be what we want to be, in this example George. So how do we say George, breath George, speak Georgian and be George in every living fibre of our omni-channel communication? That is not an easy job to do, and that is exactly where the problem lies. Why? It takes skills to master communication. It takes even such specific skills that you need to hire (or employ) different people or offices, with each their own expertise – branding, marketing, webdesign, interior design, social media expert, etc. – to do the job. So, you as a retailer or CEO thinks, great, I’m thinking across channels, the doing I outsourced. Because of this splintered approach in the filed – each expert with his own expertise – a problem arises. You can brief these experts as good as you possibly can, they will interpret that brief in their own way, designing your story in their own way with the error of the message getting ‘lost in translation’. This is a normal process, because you have hired multiple (most likely) not-communicating-with-each-other experts. So, as long as we keep thinking in compartments (channels) in stead of one holistic story, there will be no story. So we all think Live retail, but we do not do it right yet.

The paradox is while retailers are enforced to handle and think across channels, the market of service suppliers is not “omni-channeled” yet. There is only a hand full of offices, retail design offices or concept design offices, that do employ all different kinds of experts within the team, like webdesigners, graphic designers, retail designers, etc., leading to more consistent stories. Those offices, however, mostly work for larger retailers, and are, unfortunately, less accessible for SME’s. Too many offices focus on one aspect of the omni-channel strategie, while teaming up is the answer. Here lies a great opportunity for retail designers and retail design education. Retail designers need to reposition themselves als retail concept designers, embodying Live retail design. They need to be omni-skilled and guard every aspect of the story, every fiber of each channel used. Live retail communication asks for Live retail doing by Live retail trained experts. So, practice what you preach, en do Live.


Between 19 and 21 September 2017, Paris Retail Week will once again showcase French Expertise and will be the only event in Europe which addresses the omni-channel problems associated with 360° retail.
This third edition will bring together in a single event E-Commerce Paris, Europe’s biggest cross-channel event and Digital(in)Store, the leading trade show devoted to the digitisation of points of sale and distribution.

Take advantage of this event dedicated to 360° retail uniting the entire community of on- and offline retail for an optimal vision of current retail issues!
To register as a visitor click here 
Free online registration until September 18th, 2017
Registration at the event: 50 Euros incl. VAT

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