16 October 2018 Other Voices

All about the experience

Chris Green, Antalis UK channel head, visual communications, says that the demise of many high street names, the rise of commerce and demographic change have combined to create the greatest challenge in years for the UK's retail sector. Enterprising punters should scent an opportunity he says.

Retailers now have the added pressure of having to develop their proposition to meet the demands and expectations of both the older and younger generations, who may approach shopping from different angles. Often, retailers are finding that customers value convenience over loyalty; an advantage for e-tailers that can provide quick and easy options that the physical store only retailers struggle to match.

However, challenging conditions aside, there are still exciting prospects for retailers that understand their customers and embrace change; meaning hope still remains for the high street and outlets.
 
The combination of different types of shoppers, from Generation X and Millennials to Gen Z and now moving into the age of Gen Alpha, are the catalyst for  all retail environments to become a more sensory and experiential arena. Using inkjet print techniques on innovative media and substrates can deliver stand out graphics for all aspects of a retail store; from walls, windows, floors and ceilings, in a myriad of 2D and 3D applications.

Advances in technology means that unique textured surfaces and even scented prints can be created, with light in particular shown to have an impact on consumers in store and influence the purchasing decision. The innovative use of ink and hardware, for example UV LED printing or techniques such as ‘night and day printing’ and lenticular printing are other methods of creating sensory elements.
 
Today’s consumers are seeking a stand-out shopping experience from their high street and retail centres and we are witnessing a significant shift from a focus on the transactional experience, to the sensory experience, as consumers want to see and feel more from their shopping journey. Mobile allows consumers to purchase and receive goods in a quick and simple transaction but often they still want to validate their choices through the ability to touch, feel and try.

Therefore, when consumers pay a visit to a physical store, they need to be reminded of the added experiential benefits compared to e-stores. Retailers and brands that can create unique customer experiences driven by sensory stimulation; capturing sight, sound, touch and scent will be best placed to thrive and the inkjet print industry has a major part to play in the delivery of this new ‘look and feel’ retail environment.
 
Using wide-format inkjet printing machines, innovative media and substrates, as well as different ink technologies is an approach that has been around for a while but the advancement of inkjet printers, even in the last 12 months, has made the market much more accessible and it is in this area that PSPs can really add value.