Future of Retail is Social

76% of People Interact with a Product or Service Before Stepping Foot Inside of a Store. 

Wow! That's an incredible number than needs to be unpacked. So, people are already familiar with the product they want, have done research, experienced the product and have decided to come into the store to perhaps buy it. At the same time, they are "Mob-aisling" (comparative in-aisle mobile shopping) to see if they can get more info, better pricing while in store. It's like a Tinder date, you think you know what you are in for, but you need to experience the real life version before you take any next steps, at the same time you are also looking for better options...

The physical and digital worlds are almost merged as one now and this will only get stronger. The next frontier for retailers and challenges for interaction designers is how to develop experiences that combine retail, collaborative play and community. Stores should work like centers of the community, bringing together people you want to see, meet and collaborate with and products that inspire you to purchase them. Some of the good ones like the Apple Store have already figured it out,  and others are just catching on, but the key to retail environments today is Social Interaction. Humans are social and we need to be around each other and play, buy stuff and also be connected to our digital world at the same time.

To change retail behaviors, first you have to identify the habits you want to change. Then you have to design a physical, digital and social experience that is exciting, insight driven, a relevant story connected to your brand and most important, changes what people do in your store and why they come there to begin with.  If any part of the experience is off, the experience is lit without purpose, branding is ambiguous,  digital interaction is complicated and the staff is not trained properly, you can bet that people will find a better place to spend their money. 



Change Your Environment One Light at a Time

The history of electric lighting is extremely interesting and layered. Photographers, set designers, music venues and movie makers have been at the technical forefront of lighting scenes, performances and photographs with complete purposeful control, ensuring that the mood was exactly they way they wanted it to be.  Some of the earliest light bulbs were so bright that people used to wear sunglasses inside of their homes and cultural events.  Some cities like Austin and San Jose installed "Moonlight Towers" that were so bright that people couldn't sleep properly and they altered the sleep habits of the entire town. 

One of the most important things to consider and overlooked by marketing professionals is how light is used in the experiences we create. The first thing to notice when you enter a space is how it is lit. Harsh lighting can kill the vibe immediately. Too dark or too many new bright white energy efficient light bulbs are an experience killer. When you have bright light beaming down from above you create an oppressive situation right from the start and this causes a visceral reaction that can turn people off. The key is to determine what vibe you want to instill and build a custom lighting experience based off of that particular vibe, mood, feeling and purpose.


Electric lightning has certainly been a world changing technology that is currently going through another renaissance thanks to LED lighting.  From retail displays, set designs, in-homes, restaurants, cars, buildings, watches, toys, bridges, music venues, art installations, events, airplanes, airports and even hulahoops - almost everywhere you can think of LED lighting is popping up, except for one place that needs them the most...office spaces. 

According to a new study by PSFK, lighting installations are a key aspect of "The Future of Design" and millennials expect their environments to be more playful and foster interaction and collaboration . 

"Installations like these around the globe are important in forging greater human connections, and the benefits can be seen in everything from public spaces to workplaces to retail environments."

As we build new experiences and connect with one another on a human level, lighting design should be a key component of the strategy and not something added in at the end. 

Now let's get started... first up... long fluorescent tube bulbs in offices... 

Fortune's Change the World List


Fortune’s first “Change the World” list, is a list of 51 companies that have made a sizable impact on major global social or environmental problems as part of their competitive strategy. This list is not meant to be a ranking of the overall “goodness” of companies or of their “social responsibility.” The goal here is simply to shine a spotlight on instances where companies are doing good as part of their profit-making strategy, and to shed new light on the power of capitalism to improve the human condition.

1. Vodafone
2. Google"Alphabet"
3. Toyota
4. Walmart
5. Enal
6. GSK
7. Jain Irrigation Systems
8. Cisco
9. Novartis
10. Facebook

To see the full list go here


Small Ways You Can Change the World Now

TED is the grand daddy of world change. In fact TED is the inspiration of the name of this blog from many years ago. They have compiled a playlist of 10 of their videos focused on small ways to change the world. The little things that you (yes, you) can do now (yes, now) to make a difference. It's a great way to inspire us all to do great things. I often ask people, if you had to give a TED talk right now, what would it be about? 


Here are three of my favorites from the list. 

AppleWatch & The Internet of Strings

If you haven't noticed today is the day that the AppleWatch finally arrives. I'm having mixed feelings about whether I want one or not, I think that watches are almost useless ever since I've had a mobile phone in my pocket, but if my history predicts my future than I'm sure I will have one soon.

I have always loved gadgets. They captivated me as a boy, high up in my attic bedroom in early 80's Boston. I used to hook up strings around my room all leading back to my bed. One to turn off the light switch and another to turn it back on, one for the stereo power, another for the tape play button. I used to sit in my bed, pulling wires, adding things up on my calculator watch, reading Choose Your Own Adventure Books, listening to the mix tapes I recorded off of the radio and dreaming about the future...

In 1986 this future came into vision so clearly - My dad stepped up to the plate and bought a brand new remote controlled TV just for the Red Sox World Series and as you can imagine my head exploded, "Wireless Remote Controlled Television", Holy Shit! This changed everything. I had one less string to worry about and more importantly, I no longer had to be the human powered "get up and change the channel" remote for my dad.  (actual TV below)

Three years later I won a Cellular Phone on KISS 108FM. The phone was huge, the size of a mini briefcase and the monthly costs were over $100. It took 10 hours to charge for 30 mins of talk time. Not much has changed here :), but I was 17 and didn't have any money to pay my bill - so that lasted for about two months... (actual phone below)

Pretty soon I was surrounded by all of this:

Fast Forward 20 Years...

Simple, Easy, All Encompassing...

Not sure I want to add another device to my simplified system, but I might just enjoy not having to pull the iPhone  "string" out of my pocket over 200 times a day, that alone might be the kicker....