5 Minutes With Brad Grimes, Senior Director of Communications, AVIXA

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Tell us about the AVIXA story.

AVIXA is the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, the international trade organisation representing the audiovisual industry, based outside Washington, DC. It was founded in 1939 and has been known by many names; until 2017 it was InfoComm International. Since its founding, it has been tasked with promoting the use of audio, video, lighting, control and other technologies in commercial spaces: stores, hotels, corporate offices, classrooms, performance venues, etc. AVIXA has more than 11,400 enterprise and individual members, including manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and distributors, consultants, programmers, live events companies, technology managers, content producers, and multimedia professionals from more than 80 countries. AVIXA is a hub for professional collaboration, information, and community, and is the leading resource for AV standards, certification, training, market intelligence, and thought leadership.

Over the years, AVIXA and the industry it represents have evolved. What started as a group of companies interested in selling products like video projectors to schools and businesses, has become a tightly integrated value chain of complete solutions providers. Today, AVIXA members create integrated AV experiences that deliver outcomes for their customers–and their customers’ customers. Integrated experiences comprise the right combination of technologies, as well as expert consideration of the intended content and the physical space that activates those experiences.

What are your specific roles and responsibilities at AVIXA?

I am AVIXA’s communications director and responsible for initiating conversations in markets where audiovisual solutions can offer business benefits. I have been an industry writer and editor and have had the pleasure of watching close-up how the AV industry has come to represent a strategic technology partner to so many customer segments, including retailers.

What gap in the UK retail market does AVIXA strive to address through collaboration with Retail Gazette and conversation with retail executives?

Since 2017, AVIXA has dedicated itself to speaking directly to decision-makers and influencers in the markets its customers serve. Our goal is to help them see the business value of AV technology in their operations. In the retail space, where competition from online commerce has had a major impact, AV can help reinvigorate brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers do, indeed, crave new experiences, including new shopping experiences. Destination retail, or retail-as-entertainment, can be enabled through creative application of audiovisual technology, and more retailers are beginning to realise this.

Can you provide us with an example or two of an exceptional audiovisual retail environment or experience?

There are so many these days, from the very big and dramatic, like the Meraas City Walk in Dubai, which used dramatic AV systems to create a true shopping-mall-as-destination experience, to the subtler but expertly integrated, like the increasingly sophisticated digital signage at Harrods, which is maintained and constantly reimagined by a very creative media team. Some retailers are exploring the more cutting-edge boundaries of AV technology, like fashion brand Rebbeca Minkoff, which employed interactive, touch-enabled, digital mirrors in some of its fitting rooms. And then there’s what Nike did in New York City, using virtual reality and massive video walls to allow customers to try out their shoes in virtual representations of park trails or neighbourhood basketball courts.

Tell us about the upcoming Audiovisual Retail Experience Roundtable.

AVIXA is excited to sit down with retailers to learn several things that we hope our membership can help address, including the challenges they currently face, their understanding of existing technology solutions, and their process for considering and implementing new AV-enabled experiences.

We firmly believe that technology for technology’s sake is rarely the right answer to a business question. Our solution provider membership approaches a new system design by understanding the unique needs of every customer in every market. Sometimes, an elaborate AV system is not the right way to achieve a goal. But increasingly, as society has become more tech-savvy and digitally-native, audiovisual experiences can be a natural way of engaging customers, reinforcing brands, and driving business results. For us, the best way of arriving at those outcomes is by directly engaging the people trying to achieve them.

In what ways are AVIXA and its members addressing some of the challenges facing today’s retail industry?

For starters, many are creating new and better technologies for use in retail spaces. If you think about all the huge LED displays you see in Piccadilly Circus or New York’s Time Square, that visual technology has evolved to work indoors, at very high brightness and resolution. Retailer these days are not confined by the size and dimensions of TV-style displays. They can wrap video around columns or create eye-catching, on-brand shapes.

Audio technology has developed to the point where retailers can create multiple, distinct experiences within a store by creating very directed zones of sound. When a shopped walks into one zone, they have a different aural experience than when they walk into another, depending on the products being offered in each.

This is a golden age of audiovisual technology development. Creative application of this technology is at an all-time high just as the shopping public has come to expect these digitally enhanced experiences in every walk of life. Our members can help apply the many AV technology building blocks available today to virtually any business challenge in a way that drives results.

Any parting words for the Retail Gazette community?

Start by observing the technology that surrounds you every day and begin to imagine how it might apply to your business. The potential downside to all this ubiquitous technology is we take it for granted and don’t think about why it’s there, what it’s purpose is, and how it can affect behaviour.

If retailers have a particularly successful application of AV technology, I’d love to hear about it. If they want to experience the latest technology, they can visit our trade shows around the world, including InfoComm in North America or Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam. And they can learn more about applying AV experiences to their retail businesses at www.avixa.org/retailAV.

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