Kiosks, interactive digital screens, and mobile apps are all part of the experience in a new test lab in Atlanta. The lab space is part of a new focus on interactive customer experience in retail stores.

Digital agency Razorfish (owned by Publicis Groupe) says the lab will soon be followed by another in San Francisco and New York. Dubbed 'the Emerging Experiences Practice', the labs have a two fold purpose -  they give retail clients the opportunity to see and touch kiosks, full screen interactive walls, and play with apps which integrate with customer smartPhones and tablets, and developers and designers have the opportunity to test new technologies. Video

According to Sapient NitroSM in a report last week, retailers need a strategy which integrates mobile, kiosk, tablet-based e-commerce and digital display to create 'seriously planned interactive customer experiences'. (AdWeek)

The report is based on visits to over 70 retailers across New York. Detailed case studies describe the types of digital interactivity available and the relationship between them. The retail section focuses on what could be done better to get closer to the experience possible with a creative, well planned, well executed solution. 

'Digital in-store displays are powerful tools, - but too often poorly executed'
This finding included the observation that there were 'few interactive experiences designed around user goals and actions'. Digital signage with low interest content seems to have been one of the issues here.

'Poorly planned digital is worse than no digital at all'
This finding relates to planning for ongoing technology support and staff training, and location and loyout in the store.

'It isn't just the hardware: content and software matter'
'Nothing emphasized the gap between the promise and the reality better than the lack of software and content to match the hardware' This related to examples of web based content being displayed in-store on iPads or large screens.

'The right tools generate positive ROI'
SapientNitro found increased revenue of 10% to 40% in additional in-store sales in stores with successful in-store digital interactive projects.

 'Retailers should focus on supporting user tasks'
'We found that the leading examples included wedding registry kiosks, mobile barcode scanners and product explorations'

The final concusion is that there are 'major gaps in the in-store digital experience'. These gaps are as basic as price checking kiosks which were out of order, to more complex issues with understanding customer needs helping to improve their shopping experience.

The full report is well worth reading and  is available from Sapient┬«.