Turning Retail “Who Cares?” into “Oh Yea!”

Lyle Bunn


Digital Media Strategy Architect, BUNN
Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place-based signage expertise to end users in the planning, design, sourcing and optimization of their initiatives. He has published more than 300 articles, whitepapers and “how to” guides and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals. See


The fun of shopping and joy of discovery that comes with it must never die. Beyond being a necessary evil to meet our needs, retail responds to our “wants,” and our aspirations are fueled and realized in large part through retail.

The promise of the retail store, or a food services establishment or bank branch is that our time and buying power will be respected. When he declared, “the medium is the message,” media guru Marshall McLuhan was in part commenting that the use of a medium inherently declares “We care what you think about us and that you come to know us better”.

The store “promise” is also that staff will be able to answer our questions in the fair exchange during a purchase transaction. When information is not provided “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) is assumed to apply.

Is it any wonder that online commerce is realizing such growth. Browsing, discovery, navigation, information and ordering can all be accomplished by moving just a few muscles, while comfortably parked in a favorite easy chair at home, or in just a little extra time at the office.

What happens to the brand equity through the investment by brands? To the tactile experience of product consideration and to the outing and experience of shopping with friends, family and colleagues… and to the bricks and mortar, shelf stocking and staff of physical retail?

Media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and retail analysts such as Virtual Logistics are reporting on the financial struggles of retail.

While retail has lived by the 3P’s mantra including product, price and promotion, this drum-beat has been marching consumers toward online shopping and away from retail experiences. So a more empowering 3P’s mantra has emerged that is focusing retail on the productivity of place, processes and people. This is where dynamic place-based delivers high value.

Digital media breathes new life into a physical retail. It allows brands to tell their story and sell their story. It can illustrate the lifestyle and context of products being offered and provide information that enables selection by the consumer and it motivates purchase, up-sell and cross-selling. Dynamic signage reinforces key product messages that staff can use to achieve better results, and in-store promotional campaigns can be executed to reflect changes in inventory and buying propensity.

Successful retailers deeply understand the critical importance of aligning their brand with the identity and aspirations of their customers. In serving this need, nothing is more compelling than illustrating how consumer desires will be fulfilled.

The video wall in Hollister stores with its webcam view of Huntington Beach, CA aptly reinforces the surfer culture, just as fashion show runway footage does so in clothing retail, and outdoor action footage does in sporting goods stores.

“Visual is our new language” advertising pundit Paco Underhill of Envirosell declared during his address at Digital Signage Expo several years ago. His insight was intended as commentary on digital signage, but has become, as with Marshall McLuhan, the urgent call to reinvigorate the retail experience.

Management and Marketing guru Peter Drucker has said, “Marketing is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view”.

Let’s return that “Oh Yea!” spirit to retail with vitality, context and information that can be so easily provided by dynamic digital signage.