In-store interaction set to grow

Design must be taken more seriously if the growing number of interactive screens in shops are to become more customer-friendly, say interactive experts.

Figures due for release this week by the Interactive Media in Retail Group are expected to show the number of such systems will double in 1995.

“Design is terribly, terribly important. If something looks ugly, if the screen is complicated, people walk away,” explains Graham Smedley, director of IMRG.

Some retailers do not appreciate the importance of on-screen presentation says Paul Ruskin, business unit manager of the informatics division at Cambridge Consultants.

“Retailers are insufficiently aware of the importance of design for interactive screens because the technology is generally outside their areas of competence,” he comments.

Nucleus Design managing director Peter Matthews comments: “Designers have a crucial role, but the necessary investment in time and equipment is putting them off. They are frightened of the technology.”

Matthews, whose consultancy is working on a number of interactive projects, describes IMRG’s prediction as “conservative”.

“My guess is every large consumer-focused business is looking at this area but they don’t know who to go to. This is both a problem and an opportunity,” he says.

The only big stores to roll out large-scale schemes so far are Woolworths and Argos, according to Matthews, and there is a fear that European businesses will be left behind unless more money is invested.

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