SEGD Walking Tour – XLab 2015

24 Nov SEGD Walking Tour – XLab 2015

On a cool November’s morning in front of Macy’s Herald Square flagship store, Craig Martin, Partner, and Doug Hampton-Dowson, Creative Director, Reality Interactive, prepare to lead the SEGD XLab 2015 Experiential Digital Retail tour.


Following up from the successful walking tour earlier in the year with the SEGD New York chapter, these tours explore New York City’s most innovative, dazzling and interactive of digital retail experiences, inspiring the group and giving insight into the behind-the-scenes design and mechanics that go in to achieving the end objective: smarter retail experiences.

After grabbing some morning coffee and waffles, the group is guided through the first stop at Macy’s Department Store. “We like to think of Digital as performing certain roles – Influence, Energy, Ambience, and Branding”, says Doug. “Think about these roles as you walk through the floor”.

“We like to think of Digital as performing certain roles – Influence, Energy, Ambience, and Branding”, says Doug. “Think about these roles as you walk through the floor”.

The group feels the energy and impact of the $400m investment into Macy’s renovation. “This project started in 2012, and took four years to complete”, says Craig. “it’s the first time in the store’s history that there was a top to bottom renovation, and now the total retail space is 1.2 million square feet”.
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Craig stops at the first cosmetic branded counter “This is a beautiful display” Craig narrates explaining the costs and details of various technology, as various guests fire questions.

A German couple from FIT asks Craig about the possibilities of rounded lead screens. Another guest is building Italian villages in China. The diverse group from SEGD Xlab 2015 add to the variety of perspectives and questions being asked.

We pass a large digital display over the perfume department and all eyes fall upon a digital signage CEO’s nightmare: the Microsoft logo indicating that there has been a software glitch in the system.

We pass a large digital display over the perfume department and all eyes fall upon a digital signage CEO’s nightmare: the Microsoft logo indicating that there has been a software glitch…

Craig doesn’t miss a beat. “A glitch like this can kill the retail experience for the customer, not to mention get you fired. This is an error that Reality would catch immediately and be able to fix from our home base [in Middletown, CT].” Craig moves on to the next sign matter-of-factly. He explains the benchmark standard Reality Interactive Invented in 2012 – Retail Rugged. “It’s a whole series of checks and processes to ensure these things don’t happen”.

The group move on to JC Penny, and experience a much quieter digital environment. “Notice the energy in this environment compared to Macy’s”, Doug points out. The attendees take it all in. “It really surprising what an impact digital can make and different this feels”, says an environmental architect, whilst looking at the one branded digital cube suspended from the ceiling.

After a stroll down the road, the group enter the Time Warner Cable Store on 23rd street – the first flagship store that was delivered by Reality Interactive as a part of the TWC initiative to transformation their processing and transactional stores to ‘Experience’ stores.

“We thought carefully about the role of each screen”, says Doug. “You’ll notice some of the digital features in this store are purely for ambience”. He points to a digital screen that displays a vibrant fishtank. “It would have been easy to put sales content on this screen, but we used it to create the right ambience. Our objective was to turn this store from a place where you HAD to be, to a place where you WANTED to be”. He added “This fishtank actually changes into a fireplace in winter”. The group play with the larger than life interactive screen on the wall to find where there is free Time Warner Cable public Wifi across the city.

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After leaving Time Warner Cable, the group walk down the street for a quick visit into the Lego store. “This is a strong example of how digital plays the role of ‘influence’, says Craig. “You’re able to actually see the box contents built, encouraging you to buy”. The group watches as Craig moves a box of Lego Plane pieces in front of the screen. The fully built Lego plane magically appears on top of the box. “This is what we call Augmented Reality”.

After a quick subway ride, the group walk through the SOHO streets to visit the Rebecca Minkoff store.

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Greeted by an enthusiastic staff member, the group started the tour looking at the store’s interactive mirrors and moved on to view the changing rooms.



“Every product has on their price tag – an RF Tag – so it’s a unique identifier for this product, and when you take it into the dressing room, it pops up on screen, allows you to change color change sizes and call for help and even check out – all automated.”, says Craig. “It’s a whole store concept, ranging from the product, to the changing room right to the point of sale.”

“It’s a whole store concept, ranging from the product, to the changing room right to the point of sale.”

After some attendees enjoyed the champagne cleverly ordered straight from the dressing room, the group head to lunch in SOHO. A great end to the day.


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