Industry News 4/26/2012

EVENT: SIMA Visual Merchandising & Retail Marketing Bootcamp Recap

SIMA Visual Merchandising & Retail Marketing Bootcamp Recap 

On Wednesday, April 25, more than 30 surf manufacturing companies and retailers reported for duty at SIMA's Visual Merchandising and Retail Marketing Boot Camp. The seminar room at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point was filled with surf industry professionals who manage wholesale and retail marketing and merchandising, and benefited from the case studies presented by the panel of experts on the future of the in-store experience.

"The real-world examples presented at today's Boot Camp of how brands and retailers are using technology to enhance the in-store experience were invaluable lessons for attendees," said Sean Smith, Executive Director for SIMA. "The question and answer session of the morning was unlike any I have seen before as attendees and presenters engaged in a candid dialogue about the future of digital experiences in surf retail shops. It was inspirational to see where our industry can grow in relationships with consumers through technology both inside and outside surf shops. Today's attendees truly got an eye-opening experience on how they can take their brands to the next level."

Case Study #1 Tim Austin of TPN

The morning kicked off with a case study presented by Tim Austin, Chief Creative Office for TPN. The case study presented by Austin was so relevant and timely he could not disclose the client's name due to the fact the program had not launched yet and will be launching in the next couple weeks. Taking us straight into the shop experience, the case study revealed how to connect with the consumer from their first steps past the front door with the storefront display, all the way to the back dressing rooms. Austin walked attendees through examples of attention-provoking digital signs on the storefront, a wall-sized interactive touch screen for educating consumers about the product, store provided tablets for more private research on the product as well as associates use, and a magic mirror in the dressing room that allows the customer to use gesture based technology to ask questions and learn more about the product. Looking into the future of personalizing the shopping experience for consumers, Austin revealed a body scan technology that measures your size and helps customers choose the perfect fitting apparel.

"Visual Merchandising and Retail Marketing Boot Camp made it undeniably clear that not only is the digital age upon us, but a part of how we shop and live our lives day to day," said Rich Wilson, In-Store & Trade Show Manager for La Jolla Group. "Adaptation to the use of technology on the sales floor is a great way to help us keep conveying our brands message and educating our consumer."

Another digital resource of the future for retail will include Near Field Communication (NFC), according to Austin. NFC is when you use your phone to simply tap a product for more information or to use it for payment, like a mobile wallet. While the NFC technology is still being explored, Austin's presentation provided many fapplicable and technological advancements for attendees to apply to their brands in the retail world.

"At Visual Merchandising and Retail Marketing Boot Camp you got to exercise your creativity in how to adapt your own program, which can only lead to good things," said Ryan Kingman, Director of Marketing or Stance. "While some of the insights provided at today's Boot Camp may have been a bit outside the current realm of doing for some of us, it offered the ability to see what can be done in the future and howwe can adapt our currently available resources to
achieve a higher standard."

Case Study #2 Jody McKinley of PlayNetwork

The second case study of the morning was presented by Jody McKinley, Vice President of Sales for PlayNetwork. McKinley's presentation focused on how to leverage digital experiences outside of the retail shop, such as social and mobile media, to engage and draw customers to come into the four-wall experience. Boasting a solid client list such as Under Armor, Puma, Diesel, Forever 21, Nordstrom and Starbucks, for McKinley's case study he decided to focus on more of a small town brand, maurcies. Drawing their customers into stores using an online and social media campaign, maurcies hosted a home town campaign in smaller cities where local bands and models competed to represent the brand. The digital traffic and attention drove customers into stores for band performances and thus created brand loyalty. This is a model that surf industry brands can translate into foot traffic
and customer competitions at local surf shops across the nation.

"We all know as brands or retailers that the ownership of creating a compelling story and/or experience around your brand, and products, at retail is paramount to our success, and new
technologies are allowing us to engage with the consumer in much more meaningful ways than in the past," said Aaron Quigley, Channel Director of Action Sports for Oakley. "Seeing tools and executions leveraged in other industries is always beneficial, and it was one of the things I really liked about today's Boot Camp. A lot of great opportunities were exposed, especially the executions which leveraged a complete cycle of activation, from an initial web-based promotion, to taking that element and leveraging it for front door interest, to leveraging a social aspect to promote to friends and followers, to then leveraging that participation into an asset which brings these consumers back into your retail space. The items discussed, which touched all of those elements, were super impressive and certainly set the bar for the kind of activation we should expect to see going forward."

Case Study #3 Jeff Whitney of JUXT Interactive

The final case study of the morning was presented by Jeff Whitney, Creative Director for JUXT Interactive. Focusing on examples from the auto show floor, Whitney spoke on how two of his clients, Toyota and Scion, incorporated technology into showing their vehicles to draw interest, understanding and human engagement with their products. With examples of touch screens Whitney stressed the importance of digital platforms that are live, evolve over time and can be consistently updated with the time and changing products. Encouraging Boot Camp attendees to think in regards to their future customers, Whitney detailed a three-step process to ensure customer engagement. First is "product dimensionalization" which means creating content that is attractive, tells a story and can educate. Second is "engagement" of the consumer with the product. Third is "personalization" and a one-to-one connection for each customer. Through these three steps, Whitney explained that brands will stay relevant with their customers and effectively converge the physical with the virtual.

"It was interesting to see the direction in which our industry is moving using technological advances such as interacting with digital touch screens," said Frank Lechiara, Retail Marketing Manger for Electric. "I liked what Jeff Whitney said about how 'The youth are consumers of tomorrow, not knowing a world without digital interaction.' It makes infome understand a little more that we have to always be thinking about tomorrow."

In its fifth year, SIMA Boot Camps are educational and intimate seminars that aim to provide valuable business tips and tools to help SIMA member companies improve a variety of daily business operations. The Boot Camp seminar topics change from Boot Camp to Boot Camp with the goal of reaching a variety of employees and departments within SIMA member companies. While all levels of employees from any department are welcome, the 2012 SIMA Boot Camp curriculum has been specifically designed with the continued professional development of mid-level managers in mind.

Upcoming Boot Camps in 2012 include: Product Innovation Boot Camp on June 12 and New Media Boot Camp on September 25. All half-day Boot camps will be held at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, Calif. Visit www.SIMABootCamp.com for more rmation on the upcoming Boot Camps and registration materials as they become available.

To view photos of Visual Merchandising and Retail Marketing Boot Camp, please visit www.Facebook.com/SIMASurf.

To receive information on future Boot Camps, please contact kelly@sima.com.