A “New” Retail Concept Embraces the Latest Advancements in Digital Technologies


Often considered for interior applications, digital elements are bringing the shell of retail environments to a whole new level. Not just a bevy of screens, but rather, a myriad of other technologies that, when stitched together, form a compelling and memorable experience.

LED panels are embedded into sections around exterior doorways and morph into shapes, patterns and messages that create an ever-changing portal. A new concept for a large-format brand, this messaging will communicate the interior merchandise mix to passersby, as rich as anything you could find online.

Signage is expected to increasingly utilize LED channel letters, the latest in digital signage, which can deliver a brand’s name, each letter defined on a dynamic canvas – from a brand’s signature colors to its seasonal campaigns. Upon crossing the storefront’s boundary, cleverly hidden digital Go Before Optics (GOBO) projectors will activate for personal messaging, synced to those who’ve signed up for the feature on their smart device.

Store windows are also taking digital visual merchandising to a new level. Although they’ve always visually enticed the customer, in today’s attention-starved climate, retailers have to appeal deeply to the senses using neuro-marketing techniques.

Digitally controlled scent machines use proximity sensors to push out the scent when engagement is appropriate. Sound speakers provide multiple audio zones that connect with shoppers in ways a traditional visual presentation alone can’t achieve. Storefront glass is even being used to bounce sound to pre-directed points.

Advancements in lighting controls offer a personalized lighting experience, for example, synching to a shopper’s favorite sports team colors during key games. By intermixing digital elements with directed sound and scent, retailers are recognizing the importance of digitally driven VM, and will continue to deploy these new, exciting elements that tempt customers to come in and shop.


Digital wayfinding has come a long way, fusing mobile device application use with in-store displays. This brand will be showcasing the latest wall-to-floor displays that will finally take digital wayfinding to the next level, allowing the shopper to use the near-field communication (NFC) feature and turn their smartphone into a personal navigation unit to help maximize their time in-store.

In the new world of anticipated personalized services, the inter-use of mobile devices, coupled with an interface that’s fine-tuned to a shopper’s unique experience, uncovers an advanced level of customer service. By tying its customer relationship management (CRM) system to a consumer’s individual journey, new items are matched to prior purchases or searches to help maximize their time and previous investments. On-demand stylists are another helpful addition to those who need more attention or simply a confirmation that their purchases meet their demands.

Driving e-commerce features are now showing up in the brick-and-mortar world. “Smart” digital signage will eventually be universal, offering deeper access to curated specials and educational opportunities. Merchants will pair scents and sounds to content shown. Hit the “personal service” button on-screen, and in a matter of seconds, a personal shopper is speaking to you in real-time. It’s just like online, and that’s the point.

More than ever, fitting rooms will use smart mirrors to become part of your virtual-closet experience. The CRM system is able to pull information from the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in garments and create a closet view of any items you’ve purchased in the past two years. Touch the glass and you can drag a shirt into full-size view to visualize how it might look with those pants you bought a year ago.

Smart merchandising will help gain consumer focus on the products and more closely connect the merchant to shoppers’ needs.


Time for full disclosure: The preceding account isn’t an actual store, but rather, ideas being shown and discussed in “digital labs” around the world. Unfortunately, there are no digital labs open to the industry within the United States.

Red Design Group (Melbourne, Australia), however, has opened the ideal space, aptly called “Gen2 Retail Evolution Lab.” A departure from the manufacturer showroom feel of other labs, the G2 lab is a partnership between AOpen Inc. (Taipei, Taiwan) and Red Design Group’s spinoff company Nuon (Melbourne, Australia), and offers store-like inspiration at its foundation.

“The lab is a purpose-built environment that allows organizations to experience the latest in digital technology first-hand,” said Roy Tavenor, managing principal, Red Design Group. “We were simply frustrated that, as pro-technology designers, we had no neutral place to take our clients.”

According to Tavenor, the collaboration has been such a success that even Google execs have taken notice.

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Bryan Meszaros recognized by Design:Retail Magazine

The winners of design:retail’s inaugural 40 Under 40 have been announced. This class of 40 young professionals represents the next generation of retail design stars—the future of the retail industry. Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 class, and our very own Bryan Meszaros, in design:retail’s April/May issue.

To honor these individuals, design:retail is hosting a 40 Under 40 Awards event on May 18 at MANHATTAN NYC, an Affinia Hotel, located at 371 Seventh Ave. at 31st Street in New York. A CitySCENE reception will follow, giving attendees will have the opportunity to network and enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres (on us!). Registration is required for admittance. For more information, visit designretailonline.com/citysceneNYspring to register today. (design:retail CitySCENE is a private, sponsored event. Vendors/Manufacturers are only permitted as sponsors.)

Bryan Meszaros – Design:Retail “40 Under 40”

The winners of design:retail’s inaugural 40 Under 40 have been announced. This class of 40 young professionals represents the next generation of retail design stars—the future of the retail industry. Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 class, and our very own Bryan Meszaros, in design:retail’s April/May issue.

To honor these individuals, design:retail is hosting a 40 Under 40 Awards event on May 18 at MANHATTAN NYC, an Affinia Hotel, located at 371 Seventh Ave. at 31st Street in New York. A CitySCENE reception will follow, giving attendees will have the opportunity to network and enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres (on us!). Registration is required for admittance. For more information, visit designretailonline.com/citysceneNYspring to register today. (design:retail CitySCENE is a private, sponsored event. Vendors/Manufacturers are only permitted as sponsors.)

Bryan Meszaros Shares Thoughts on the Digital Signage Industry

About The Digital Signage Expo

Digital Signage Expo (DSE), held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV, USA, is the world’s largest and longest running conference and trade show exclusively dedicated to showcasing innovative digital communications and interactive technology solutions for customer- and employee-facing organizations. Launched in 2004, DSE was the first event dedicated to the digital signage market and has been a significant contributor to the growth of this fast-paced industry. Professional end user attendance represents decision-makers from key industry categories such as retail, restaurant, healthcare, education, hospitality and transportation, as well as other key stakeholders, including advertising executives, brand marketers and systems integrators.

Over 200 exhibitors feature technology and services including hardware, software, network, delivery and content from around the globe. DSE also offers the largest and most diversified digital signage and digital out-of-home educational program anywhere in the world, with more than 125 educators and the largest variety of educational opportunities, including a live installation tour and structured curriculum leading to professional re-certification in seven educational tracks. The 2016 program will be comprised of pre- and post-show educational events, general conference seminars, as well as targeted Industry Roundtable Discussion Groups and free presentations staged in on-floor theaters.

Customer Engagement Tools are Top Draw at National Retail Federation

The National Retail Federation’s (Washington, D.C.) annual Big Show kicked off the New Year with a whopping 33,000 show-goers and 1500 manufacturers/suppliers in attendance. The NRF’s extensive global-attendee list, coupled with behind-the-curtain educational programs, has positioned the show as a must-attend event for industry leaders, designers, and retailers.

Make no mistake: this over-a-century-old gathering doesn’t target the store environments’ crowd, in a direct fashion. Rather, it’s a four-day portal into the minds of visionary retail thinkers, who will be shaping the conversations in 2015, which will certainly be peppered into the content at other future events.

Held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, Jan. 11-14, the event that caters to some of the industry’s largest design firms featured aisles and aisles of technologically innovative “solution providers” – as they like to call themselves. The latest in retail technologies and customer experiences were in full demonstration mode, while discussion topics revolved around current issues on the minds of most retailers.

EBay and Intel are just a couple recognizable names that weren’t showcasing what you might initially think they would. EBay wasn’t there to tout its popular online auction portal, but rather, emerging “store experience” tools.

Specifically, it showcased engagement solutions, created in collaboration with the Rebecca Minkoff brand for its stores, making the retailer a hot topic at the show.

Its customer journey begins with shoppers checking in on a “Connected Glass” shopping wall – a large mirrored, interactive display. Once a shopper has made their selections, they tap a button on the display to have the products sent to a dressing room – which are each also outfitted with the mirrored touchscreens.

In the fitting room, a customer can browse Minkoff’s online catalog and summon additional products to try on. Founder Rebecca Minkoff says, “My customers will be able to virtually connect with their stylist through the mirror’s touchscreen for their needs … whether it’s another size or a glass of champagne.”

Intel had one of the most experiential booths at the show. And the well-known chip manufacturer wasn’t there to sell the product for which its globally known. Instead, Intel showcased new technologies that will provide individualized experiences and data protection across all touchpoints for shoppers. These solutions should help push forward the conversation around in-store experiences, and in turn, create more viable “tech” concepts for retailers to implement in-store. (This tells me that a lot of retailers have been slow to adapt and are behind on innovations demanded by consumers – especially when tech companies take charge of showcasing the trends.)

One of Intel’s biggest attractions was an interactive mirror, a product that’s now being debuted at some Neiman Marcus locations. The mirror works via gestures or its mobile app, allowing customers to create a 360-degree digital image of themselves. This body-image capture creates an ongoing experience, where customers can continue trying on different merchandise – virtually.

Intel (like most others) spoke to RFIDs, wearables, analytics and mobile p-o-s. They illustrated these themes using Nebraska Furniture Mart: The company reported its interactive digital systems are converting browsers to buyers, increasing basket uplift and reducing wait time – while yielding higher customer satisfaction. Access to real-time product information, inventory and the ability to complete transactions without leaving a customer’s side, fed into another big trend at the show: utilizing technology to improve the customer experience.

Mobile usage was also a big topic. This was supported by a report from Deloitte (New York), that reported mobile in-store sales’ influence grew from $159 billion in 2012 to a staggering $539 billion in 2013. Deloitte also divulged that cross-channel shopping journeys involving mobile devices rose, on average, by 20 percent from last year; mobile searches that led to in-store or online purchases are now actively used by 29 percent and 33 percent of shoppers, respectively.

The NRF show will continue to be a nexus point for all things retail – from CRM and statistics to p-o-s solutions and outlets for retail executives to share insights, strategies and forecasts.  The show (like many others) can be overwhelming, confusing and contain so much technology that your head will spin. However, that’s the beauty of why our industry is needed as a partner – all those retailers and potential clients need someone to “design” their applications into their concepts.  They need the store design community, and we need to be able to offer our own solutions.  I, for one, look forward to next January.

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Resident Keeps Eyes Open for Digital Marketing Strategies

SOUTH AMBOY — A city that has been trying to invigorate its downtown business district has a success story that started in one resident’s basement.

OpenEye, a global digital marketing strategy firm, is the brainchild of Bryan Meszaros, who launched the firm about 13 years ago when he was 23.

Clients include Nordstrom, the Smithsonian, British Telecom, Santander and most recently Madame Tussauds.

“It is absolutely mind-boggling,” Meszaros said of his success. “It’s an awesome way to close out the year.”

Though supporting organizations that range from museums to retailers may sound difficult, he said his clients have a lot of the same challenges, even though they are in different industries.

Each client, he said, helps the team better serve future ones as they “become more aware of the right questions to ask.”

OpenEye’s website sums up its philosophy as such: “We believe technology is more than a component of an environment — it’s a channel for communication and an artistic vehicle for dynamic visual engagement.”

Meszaros isn’t just a player in his industry — he’s also working toward becoming a leader. He has presented at industry conferences, authored papers and serves on various boards, including the Society for Experiential Graphic Design.

Meszaros said he got involved in the digital marketing field through an internship he served just prior to graduating from Seton Hall University. He was able to see the company’s gaps when it came to digital media, which inspired him to launch his own business.

He said he’s largely self-taught and has taken advantage of online professional development opportunities, such as webinars. He also has a background in design.

“I thought, ‘Well, let’s just try this on our own,’ ” he said of creating OpenEye, adding that complicating the effort was doing so during a recession; it was certainly not an easy time to launch a business. “People thought I was crazy.”

But the objections of others didn’t deter him, and now his dozen-strong team, which he was able to start building about five or six years after launch, not only works on digital projects, but are relying on technology to stay connected with each other.

His team is spread throughout the U.S., with his employees all working from their homes.

Not having a central office has allowed Meszaros to leverage talent from rich pools like New York, regardless of location.

“It’s the Starbucks generation of business,” he said, adding that all his employees need are wireless access and a Mac computer to get their work done.

At the same time, he does not consider the firm a small business anymore.

“It’s not really a mom-and-pop organization anymore,” he said.

Meszaros, a St. Mary’s High School graduate, said living in South Amboy has made it very convenient to travel back and forth to New York.

He added that Middlesex County’s bluecollar roots have helped to keep him grounded.

So where does Meszaros see OpenEye in five years or so? Acquisition is certainly a possibility, he said, as he acknowledges that running a business and delivering on client needs can be a tall order. However, he does not see the business going away — in fact, in five years’ time, he thinks the business can double in size.

“This has definitely turned into a longterm career,” he said.

In the meantime, he said his focus is on gaining more traction overseas, namely expanding his firm’s presence in Europe.

“There’s no sign of stopping,” he said.


A Healthy Mix of Designers Discuss the Shift of Digital Technology

On Thursday, November 6, the Society for Experiential Graphic Designers (SEGD) held its annual Xlab conference at the SVA Theatre in New York City. The one-day event brought together a healthy mix of designers, students, and vendors to discuss the shifting role of digital technology in spatial experiences.

Thanks to Justin Molloy of SEGD, the event ran like clockwork, packing 12 speakers into four one-hour sessions that were each followed by a moderated panel discussion. Aside from the obligatory messages from the sponsors, the presentations were top-notch, highlighting inspiring projects and offering predictions and insights into a changing industry. Speakers included (to name a few): Jake Barton, founder of Local Projects, whose recent portfolio includes the digital platform for the 9/11 Memorial Museum; Christian Marc Schmidt from Schema; and Paul McConnell from Control Group, the firm responsible for the digital interface of the new wayfinding stations deployed in the NYC subway.

“We are in the memory business”

Jake Barton shared Gallery One, the interactive platform that Local Projectsdeveloped for the Cleveland Museum of Art. In addition to numerous interactive touch screens it includes a 40-foot multi touch wall that displays over 4,100 works of art at a time and allows visitors to interact with the museum’s collection in a new way. Barton recalls entering the project at a time when the curators were considering placing iPads alongside every work in the museum. Intuitively, he knew that this would not fly and advocated the implementation of touch screens in select locations to supplement existing content without distracting from the main attraction—the art.

Barton also shared his work on the interactive pen that will be handed out to visitors of the soon-to-reopen Cooper Hewitt Museum [Editor’s Note: The date is set for December 12; stay tuned for more soon…]. The pen can be used to explore the lesser-known works of the collection, to create and share patterns, and to model simple forms in 3D. It remains to be seen whether or not this pen will contribute to the museum experience in a meaningful way, however with everyone from Diller, Scofidio + Renfro to GE having pitched in on the project, expectations are high.

Like Barton’s projects, the Papal Shrine incorporates two large format multi touch displays that were so large they actually had to knock out a wall in their studio to test them. What was originally conceptualized as a map showing Jean Paul’s extensive travel, developed into a thematic timeline that allows visitors to observe how the pope’s mission changed over the years. Between Bluecadet & Local Projects, the trend for exhibition design seems clear: make it big but don’t let it get in the way of the content.“The city is an expressive medium”

Christian Marc Schmidt of Schema presented a number of investigations into the social life of the city. Aiming to enhance experience with mobile technology, Schmidt’s projects help build an understanding of the subjective qualities of cities at a macro scale. For example, Schmidt created a series of mountainous maps to depict the realtime distribution of trending hashtags in geo-referenced tweets.

During Xlab, he announced the release of his newest app, Journalyst. which will be available for beta testing on Google Glass. The app allows people to record short video moments and to tag them according to a range of emotions. At a macro scale, Schmidt imagines categorizing certain places by the most common emotions they evoke and hopes to one day offer this data to developers, retailers and urbanists.

“The future will be stable, frictionless and a little bit magical.”

Paul McConnell of Control Group refrained from sharing any of his own projects and instead offered his vision of how mobile technology will change the way we interact with environments. Envisioning a twentyfold increase of connected smart devices by 2020, there will be more devices then ever before, communicating with one another long before the user needs to get involved. ‘Your fire alarm will be talking to your toaster saying: Is there a fire? —No, I am just making toast.’

Just as RFID technology has changed the simple transaction of paying a highway toll, everyday digital interactions will become automatic and passive. McConnell sees the end of friction points like credit card swipes or subway turnstiles and notes that wearable technology might even nudge you to the left or right on the way to your destination. The one question that remains is how the design of interfaces will change and if any subsequent standards will emerge.

All in all, Xlab illustrated the wide range of opinion on the appropriate role that interactive technology should play in our retail, transit and cultural centers. It comes at an exciting time because the style guide has yet to be written and the ideal scale continues to oscillate with the development of new technology. As we navigate our way through fractured everyday interactions on multiple devices, apps and interfaces, Xlab is proof that the seamless future we’ve been waiting for is just around the corner.

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Commercial Integrators Making an Impact in The Digital Experience Industry

The integration space has long been considered an “old boys’ network,” but as you can see by the accompanying list capturing 40 of the best and brightest young talents in the industry, it’s certainly refreshing to know the next generation of leaders — and perhaps the one after that — has already emerged.

We’re sure this list — like most compilations of this kind — will generate debate, discussion, and disagreement about who’s on it and who’s not. We decided to focus on integrators, consultants, and programmers as well as a few others whose influence on the industry is undeniable, if not a little unorthodox.

That’s why you don’t see anyone from your favorite manufacturer included, for example. Also, this is not a ranking, but rather an alphabetical list of the honorees.

Click here to meet the Top 40 CI Influencers Under 40!

We may have fudged the “under 40” thing a tad to make sure a couple of folks whose effects on the world of integration can’t be denied were included. That said, we set the cutoff at turning 40 for during 2014.

Finally, we grouped co-workers together in a few cases, so there are technically a few more than 40 individuals on the list. With so many worthy nominees (including many who were new to us, which was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the nomination process), we didn’t want to have to pick one over another.

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New Digital Merchandising Tactics Are Being Embraced Industry Leaders

The shopping habits of today’s consumers have changed; retailers must be able to provide the product information they want through one or more of the marketing channels they may frequent — and all of those communications must be consistent with the physical in-store experience. That means new merchandising tactics are being embraced by industry leaders who are turning to digital signage to enhance the shopper experience and achieve competitive differentiation.

For many brands and retailers, the way to do this is through increased use of digital signage. Simply put, it allows retailers to create a sense of relevance and personal connection within physical retail environments by leveraging online, mobile and social capabilities, while providing a flexible format for messaging, which can be changed to showcase promotional or seasonal specials. Digital signage, literally digital communications networks employed throughout the physical store, enable retailers to create more personalized experiences, transcend physical store design limitations and connect shoppers’ channel journey.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the United Kingdom where several brand and retailer initiatives stand out as examples of digital signage done right.

Create a more personalize experience

Topman, which has 175 stores worldwide, and as a subsidiary of Topshop, offers men’s clothing exclusively, recently collaborated with YrStore to create an innovative approach to designing your own T-shirt. Within Topman’s Oxford Street store customers can design their own one-off t-shirt and have it digitally printed in-store. Located in the store are a series of interactive “touch-pods” that provide the customer with tools allowing them to select from a variety of artistic elements to create a unique shirt in only a few minutes.

Transcend physical store design limitations

There are limitations to the physical environment and those restraints tend to stifle the imagination of most retail designers. How do you create the illusion of a larger store or at the very least deliver a dynamic visual experience? Recently Adidas launched a new store concept inside the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, U.K., that features a dynamic digital experience. The sights and sounds of a sports stadium inspired the design behind the retail store. As customers enter the store through a stadium like tunnel they are greeted by an array of football jerseys from around the world and surround sound audio of fans cheering. One of the key features of the store is the Adidas Shoebase, which is designed to help the customers find the right fit and design of a sports shoe for them. Within the space are a series of interactive display tables integrated within a bar, which allows the visitor to quickly browse Adidas apparel. The store combines the attributes of using digital signage to emphasize the visual of a sports arena and helps to deliver the ability to showcase product that the store may not have in inventory at the moment.

Connect the “channel” journey

Retailers tend to either be great at delivering an innovative on-line shopping or an unforgettable in-store experience but never both. It has always been a challenge amongst retailers to create a seamless shopping experience that leads the consumer to the store. In late 2013 Argos, a U.K.-based home and general merchandise retailer unveiled their first of six digital concept stores at Old Street in London. The store includes a 60-second Fast Track collection service for items ordered and paid for online or via mobile, a series of self-service iPads for shoppers to browse products and a series of dynamic digital displays which are used to replace static point of purchase merchandising. The store concept reinforces the premise of using digital signage to create a fast and digitally enabled shopping journey as well as creating a universally appealing environment.

Temporally mind the gap between digital experience and physical design, as it will be only a matter of time before the two are commonly combined in future stores. According to a recent study (published online via I Am OmniChannel) 73% of customers prefer personalized shopping experiences and interestingly enough most store associate have two minutes to engage a customer or half of them will leave the store. As new generations of shoppers emerge and retailers learn more about digital signage and it’s limitless impact on the store experience you will start to see more digital experiences emerge to satisfy the personal attention many consumers ask for.

Digital engagement should be memorable

Thomson, a U.K.-based holiday services agency developed a next generation store that provides a memorable customer experience by fusing together technology and design. The concept store, located in the Bluewater Shopping center in Kent welcomes their customer via an interactive map at the entrance as well as a series of interactive tables to help them research their plans. The new concept is helping to enhance the store by allowing the customer to control the planning behind their next holiday and delivering rich imagery that plays on their senses to make a decision.

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South Amboy Entrepreneur at Helm of Growing Tech Firm

South Amboy-based OpenEye, a global digital media consultancy, helps brands engage customers through a strategic digital in-store experience.

This technology allows companies to display a variety of dynamic marketing messages, localized offers, and core product information.

Founder Bryan Meszaros’ entrepreneurial success story began in the basement of his parents’ home in South Amboy when he was 23, and since has grown into a million-dollar company.

The company has experienced global success creating digital signage solutions for a range of brands, including The Corcoran Group in New York, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, FITCH, McDonald’s, Vodafone, Santander Bank and more.

OpenEye also has completed digital marketing projects at various businesses overseas

“OpenEye works to design and create strategic digital experiences that effectively engage consumers,” said Meszaros, 35. “We work across a multitude of markets, from retail to financial, helping those brands understand how to take advantage of today’s proven technologies to better communicate with their customers. We help them to understand what is applicable and craft a strategy that positions them to gain value from the investment in the solution.”

He said one of Open-Eye’s major clients is Santander, in their U.S. and U.K. divisions.

“They tasked us to help them create a more dynamic and engaging environment for their clients,” Meszaros said. “Their challenge, as it is with most banks, is how do you educate and convey the offerings of the brand in a meaningful manner each time the customer visits the branch?

“We took the time to study the branch, understand the ways in which the customer behaves when they are there, and also gained a better understanding of the Santander brand.”

He said with that understanding, they developed and deployed a digital merchandising program: digital signage.

“We developed a strategy that would allow the bank to communicate more effectively and help their customers understand the full breadth of offerings,” Meszaros said. “The program enables the bank to deliver specifically targeted messaging so it is always relevant and current.”

Born and raised in South Amboy, Meszaros attended St. Mary Regional High School, graduating in 1996. He attended Seton Hall University and graduated with a degree in communication arts in 2000.

Meszaros now is the firm’s managing director and on a daily basis, he said, he “manages the overall operations of the agency and also assists with strategy design and business development.”

*Originally published MyCentralJersey.com