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Columbia Presents an Interactive Retail Storefront Window
“Go ahead, push my buttons. I dare you.” This taunting message, coupled with an intimidating image of Gert Boyle, Columbia Sportswear’s tough-as-nails Board Chairman and matriarch, tempts passersby of the storefront window in the Portland, Oregon airport. The message gives window shopping a new meaning, digitally displayed on a large interactive medium that allows users to peruse information on Columbia and its products, whether the store is opened or closed.
Columbia Sportswear, founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, is one of the largest outerwear manufacturers in the world and the leading seller of skiwear in the United States. Long established as a leading global manufacturer of quality outerwear, Columbia more recently opened branded stores as part of its directto- consumer retail strategy. This strategy builds brand awareness and demand for Columbia products that will help contribute to its wholesale partners’ success. The interactive display window is a piece of this strategy, allowing consumers to engage with the brand in a fun and highly interactive way. The store also contains web kiosks, which allow customers to sign up for a customer loyalty program; Tech Totems, which demonstrate how product technology works; and digital signage that displays simple animation and company branding.
A well-recognized icon of the company, Gert Boyle, the tyrant enforcing strict product standards, has appeared in Columbia’s advertising for more than 20 years. Her image was a perfect fit for the start page of the large interactive store window. The image draws passersby into the store in an area well-known for its outdoor attractions and activities. Arriving airport passengers and potential outdoor enthusiasts are able to interact with the storefront window, viewing Columbia’s range of products and videos of the extreme elements the products must endure prior to sale. On either side of the screen, mannequins are wearing outfits presented on the start page. Displaying the products digitally and physically allows for a more complete user experience, as the user has the ability to physically see the product, watch the product in use, learn more about it and purchase on the spot, whether or not the store has it stocked.
The touchscreen glass also allows users to learn more about Columbia’s pioneers of the “Greater Outdoors,” inspirational athletes sponsored and promoted by the company for their unique passion in pursuing outdoor activities. Columbia has a firm belief that the outdoors is for everyone, and showcases its pioneers of the “Greater Outdoors” to encourage the everyday person to be their own pioneer. The pioneers are featured on screen and in static signage surrounding the screen; in all of the imagery they are wearing the same products featured on the screen. Users can touch a picture of a pioneer, find out more about that athlete and what products he or she uses, and purchase those products all at once. For example, prominently displayed on the start page is Rachael Scdoris, a pioneer of mushing. Scdoris competes in the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, 1161 miles of blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and unpredictable terrain. She does all this and is legally blind. Users can find out more about the cold weather gear Scdoris uses to help her finish the race.
Scdoris and the other pioneers are also displayed on the web kiosks throughout the store. Additionally, web kiosks are used to show a portion of the website in-store. The kiosks also allow customers to sign up for the greater rewards program, which sends special promotions and deals only to those customers. An added benefit to the web kiosks is that employees can become more knowledgeable by learning about new products.
Customers are also able to learn about the technology behind the products at the Tech Totem station. The purpose of the Tech Totem is to simplify complex technologies by displaying how the product technology works. For example, Columbia’s waterproof/breathable OmniTech fabric allows air to pass through but inhibits the passage of water. The Tech Totem station has a physical demonstration of this and contains a digital aspect that shows videos of OmniTech apparel in use.
Finally, digital signage is also displayed throughout the retail store. Using simple animation and headlines, the store is able to show more content than with static imagery. The company message and branding are echoed through the location.
The technology involved behind the interactive projects utilizes KioWare Kiosk Basic Software. The software secures the kiosks and interactive window, ensuring that the application is up and running 24/7, making the technology accessible even when the store is closed. KioWare’s attract loop feature is used to keep content fresh, rotating through different pioneer commercials, film previews and brand imagery.
The projects have been very successful for Columbia Sportswear. Specifically, the interactive window continues to receive a lot of buzz and word of mouth. Columbia has been satisfied with the traffic measured and noticed that people purposefully go back to use the window again. Because of its success, the company has expanded the project to its Mall of America store and plans to implement in its retail store in Germany next year.
Columbia’s message is clear: the outdoors is for everyone, and the product technology is available to make it happen for the everyday person. It conveys this message through a myriad of technology that shares inspirational pioneer athletes, product technology and rewards programs. So don’t let the formidable image of Gert Boyle stop you. Push her buttons, get outdoors and be your own pioneer.
Are you working on creating an interactive retail experience for your customers? Read more: Interactive Kiosk Uses - 15 Odd, Ordinary & Obvious Kiosk Uses and Retail Kiosk Software - Opportunities for Retailers.
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