When I told my husband I was heading off to a tradeshow called GlobalShop, he was more than a little concerned. I believe his response was, “You’re leaving your credit cards at home!” He didn’t have a clear understanding of what this event was all about. You see, I’ve attended numerous tradeshows and conferences over the past 20 years and I enjoy sharing the highlights with him when I return. But this one was new to him because it was new to me. Yep, this was my very first GlobalShop.
Here at Star, we have always been best known for our work in exhibits. When we opened our doors 25 years ago, the tradeshow space was definitely the focus. Exhibits are still our jam but over time our clients’ needs grew into events, corporate interiors and yes, retail. The common thread? A physical environment. So, having just joined this all-Star team, this past week at GlobalShop was a deep dive for me into the retail world that I have previously known well from the customer-side of the cash-wrap. In short, it was a great week filled with new and old friends, and exciting conversations about the future of retail.
Here are a few takeaways from my week in the windy city:
1) First, retail is alive and well.
The networking events, show floor, and speaker sessions were buzzing. While I heard many people mention the show is smaller in footprint than in years past, conversations were lively and positive. A fair amount of corporate consolidation has taken place over the past few years amongst some exhibitors/vendors but the movement seems to have been focused on making entities stronger, bringing complementary capabilities together. And, based on the conversations I had with retailers, they were all there to continue on a very positive trajectory of designing impactful experiences for people. The #NotMyApocalypse theme for the week was spot on.
2) The integration of technology within the physical environment just keeps getting better.
I found myself drawn to any and all booths that were showing technology/digital capabilities. Beautiful graphics, kickass affects, VR, AI, you name it and it drew me in. Technology isn’t taking away from retail. Tech/digital aren’t the demise of brick and mortar. They enhance. Technology/digital applications offer high impact methods of opening the doors to engagement. The key then is, what do you do with people once you have their attention and their physical presence? Well, that’s where Star enters the picture.
3) I’ve never seen so many naked mannequins.
Yep, unclothed mannequins were sprinkled throughout the show floor and would at times take me by surprise. Some were more interesting than others. Please know, I am not a prude but I do have one little piece of advice in this area. I know you’re selling body forms but the presentation of what you offer, Mr./Ms. mannequin-supplier, is much more impressive if you style your molded peeps. The result? You move yourself out of being a commodity and into the category of a design partner. Just my two cents.
4) Content creation is king.
Yep, the content thorn is still very much in our side. Brands know they need to engage people with new and interesting content, but the time, resources and need for new ideas is a constant struggle. I was a bit surprised content providers/creation weren’t more prevalent on the show floor. This is definitely an area in which we will see a lot more growth and development.
5) And last, the river sure stays green a long time!
I really do enjoy Chicago. It’s a quick 50-minute flight from home, people are nice, it’s easy to get around, and I always enjoy the restaurant scene. I am happy to report I was finally able to get in at Girl and the Goat, and it did not disappoint. In all, Chicago was a lovely host for Global Shop. I was, however, surprised to see the river was still green even a few weeks after St. Patrick’s Day. Very green, in fact.
That’s all I’ve got. Thanks to everyone for a great week at GlobalShop and be sure to reach out for conversations about designing the physical experience/environment. We’ve got an amazing team here in Minneapolis ready when you are.