Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 12.28.53 AM copyExcerpt from story in July 18th, 2016 issue of Sound & Communication. Click here to read the whole story.

Mall Security Tightened

Mall security tightened even as the larger music culture changed. Assertive hip-hop has given way to smoother, less aggressive pop sounds, and there is more reliance on music services such as Mood, PlayNetwork and XM For Business that offer more consistent playback levels than the playlists on Millennial-aged assistant managers’ iPods that were often the main music sources in youth-fashion shops just a few years ago.

Brian Edwards, CEO of Edwards Technologies (www.edwardstechnologies.com), which creates AV-interactive experiences for clients, including Disney’s and Universal’s retail stores, agrees that music is losing some of its presence in the retail sector,  although audio may undergo some interesting changes. For one leading chain of sports clothing, the company is developing an immersive soundscape that consists of the sort of sound effects commonly heard on NBA game broadcasts. It’s an approach that’s closer to the sound design that’s become common in cinema and television audio production, often eschewing music altogether. The concept is still experimental, being tested in a single store initially. But it suggests to him a deeper shift involving AV.

“Music, like AV itself, has been a separate silo in retail for years, ” he explained. “That’s changing as AV becomes a piece of the larger whole that is IT. There will be more video in retail in the future, but that video will be an extension of what’s on the customer’s mobile device.”

Edwards foresees mobile as the nexus of a larger data-based ecosystem that will enable concepts like the “endless aisle, ” in which inventory no longer has to be available on a sales floor, but rather can be accessed virtually through in-store kiosks and through consumers’ smartphones, with the right size and color being retrieved in the store while the prospective buyer is there.

“That’s the kind of engagement that mobile can provide, ” he offered. “In there, AV is a piece of the puzzle, not the ultimate solution.”

“Music is still important as part of the AV mix in retail, but not as important as it once was, ” Prier added, noting that the shift to video will include interactive kiosks and recognition cameras and software that could ease a less-jarring version of the Minority Report effect into place, inviting consumers by name with data that knows their desires and expectations. “Retail is changing, ” Prier stated, “but it’s still going to be a very interesting place to be.”