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By Thomas Baekdal - January 2011

AdiVerse Virtual Footwear Wall

Adidas has partnered with "Start Creative" to create a new form of in-store product experience. It's basically a wall covered with a huge touch sensitive TV screen, running a custom made product catalog.

Here is a video of how it works:

Interesting elements

First of all, an interactive wall like this can really lighten up a physical store and make it much more interesting to visit. Both when people are using it, but also when it is just used as idle visual decoration. It is even potentially cheaper in the long run, because you don't have to manufacture new wall decorations. With a digital wall, you just upload new visualizations.

This also allows you to very quickly adapt to new situations, or keep things fresh. If you sponsoring an event, you can have the wall track and promote the progress in real time.

It allows the store assistants to extend the shopping experience. There some elements of this in the video (although too focused on marketing, and not enough on sale). E.g. When a person is looking forward to buying a new pair of shoes, you can use the wall to very quickly teach people how to use them correctly, etc. There is a lot of potential here.

I can drastically enhance the store's inventory, by allowing shops to sell every product - even when they are not carrying it in the store. Imagine that you walk into a store, and can't find the right product. The store assistant can then use to the wall to present with you with other options not currently in stock, and offer to ship it to you directly.

And finally, there is the marketing gimmick element. This can help boost the image of the store, but it will wear off very quickly. People do not come to you store to watch a wall - not even interactive one.

They do need to fix the checkout experience. Finding something on a wall, having to switch to a tablet, set up an account... I mean, come on. You got to be kidding me!

The future...

While this looks impressive, a wall like this reminds of Blockbuster. They had this odd idea that people would love go to a Blockbuster store to rent DVDs. They believed that people would prefer the more visual store experience.

They were wrong. People prefer to stream movies via Netflix. Why go to a store when you can do the same directly from your home?

It is the same with the AdiVerse wall. What possible reason would people have to visit a physical store just to watch something on a big TV? Why not allow people to do exactly the same from inside their own homes?

Think of it like this. I am often advocating that Microsoft should create an App store for the XBOX - most recently in "Microsoft, Forget Windows and the Defensive Business Strategy."

The XBOX now comes with Kinect, a truly remarkable device that allows you to interact with your TV without having to touch anything. Imagine the AdiVerse wall using Kinect right from inside your home. You will be able to do all the things Chris showcased in the video, simply by waving your arms around in your living room.

Blockbuster had to learn the hard way that people really do not care about retail channels. People care about watching movies. Everything else is just an obstacle.

If people are willing to choose and buy a product on a TV screen in your store, they are also more than willing to do the same via their TV, laptop, or iPad from home. Walking to a store is just an obstacle to sale.

The companies that win, are the ones who understand how to remove obstacles and provide a direct path between product and customer.

That doesn't mean that the retail channel isn't important, it is. But focus on the things you cannot do from your home. You can't feel the product. You can't try it out. You can't get personal advice (well... You can, but you know what I mean).

A retail store is about the personal connection. It is about helping people make the right decision.

A digital wall can augment that experience by extending the service the store assistants have to offer. Like when you go to a store to get help buying just the right pair of running shoes. The store assistant can then use the wall to demonstrate different elements, alternative colors, how to use them correctly (training) etc.

Focus your retail channels on guiding people. Don't use it to create a "web shop in a physical store." And never try to force people to visit a store, if they can do the same from home.

Digital in a physical environment is about extending reality.


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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