Dive into the dynamic realm of live merchandising, a space where creativity and customer interaction blend seamlessly to redefine the retail and event experience. Here, the magic of on-site product customization isn’t just a business strategy; it’s a journey into personalization that leaves a lasting impression on every customer. Imagine the excitement of watching a product transform before your eyes and the delight in taking home something uniquely yours. This blog is your gateway to understanding how this innovative approach is revolutionizing brand-customer connections, turning everyday interactions into memorable stories. Get ready to explore a world where each product is more than an item; it’s a personal experience.

We also have a Q&A with Jack Kekstadt, Research and Development manager at Family Industries Live. We’ll explore the intricate details of on-site product customization, the challenges and triumphs of implementing these strategies in real-time, and the future trends that are set to redefine the industry.

Live customization setup, creating unique Michelob soccer jerseys.

The Rise of Live Merchandising in Retail and Events

In recent years, live merchandising has emerged as a game-changer in retail and event environments. This trend, riding the wave of experiential marketing, brings a fresh twist to traditional shopping and event experiences. It’s not just about selling products; it’s about offering personalized experiences that resonate with customers. The demand for such unique, interactive encounters is soaring, as consumers increasingly seek out more than just goods—they crave memorable experiences. As a result, businesses are turning to live merchandising as a means to not only attract but also deeply engage their customers.

Key Strategies for Effective On-Site Customization

Successful live merchandising hinges on meticulous planning and strategy. Key to this is mastering space management and streamlining workflows to ensure a smooth, enjoyable customer experience. Retailers are adopting innovative layouts and designs that accommodate live printing stations without disrupting the overall flow of the store. Efficient workflows are critical in minimizing wait times while maximizing customer interaction and satisfaction. By strategically planning these elements, retailers can enhance the on-site customization experience, making it a highlight of the shopping journey.

Personalized Festival Merchandise

Navigating Challenges in Live Product Customization

Live product customization comes with its set of challenges, chief among them being space constraints and power requirements. Retailers often face the dilemma of integrating customization stations into limited spaces. Innovative solutions, such as compact, multi-functional printing equipment, are increasingly being employed to tackle these issues. Additionally, managing power needs for various equipment, especially in temporary event settings, calls for creative solutions like portable power sources and energy-efficient technologies.

Enhancing Customer Experience Through Personalization

The heart of live merchandising lies in its ability to create personalized, memorable experiences for customers. This could range from custom-printed t-shirts at a concert to personalized souvenirs at a corporate event. The interaction involved in selecting designs, witnessing the creation process, and receiving a bespoke product adds an emotional value to the merchandise, transforming it from a mere item to a cherished keepsake.

Personalized Athletic Apparel at NWSL

Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is invaluable in refining and evolving live merchandising strategies. It provides insights into customer preferences, pain points, and desired experiences. Retailers can leverage this feedback to make data-driven decisions, continually improving their offerings and ensuring they meet and exceed customer expectations.

Preparing for Future Developments in Merchandising

The future of live merchandising is likely to be shaped by continued technological innovation, particularly in the realm of AI and machine learning. These technologies could revolutionize customer interactions, offering even more personalized and efficient customization experiences. Retailers need to stay informed and adaptable to integrate these advancements successfully into their merchandising strategies.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Enhancing Merchandising Strategies

Strategic collaborations and partnerships play a significant role in advancing live merchandising techniques. These alliances can bring together diverse expertise, leading to innovative solutions and enhanced efficiency. Whether it’s partnering with technology providers or co-creating with other brands, these collaborations can open up new avenues for engaging and captivating customers.

Q&A with Jack Kekstadt, Research and Development manager at Family Industries Live

Jack Kekstadt

Q: Innovation in Live Merchandising: How does Family Industries Live approach innovation in live merchandising, especially in retail environments?

A: Here at Family Industries, constant innovation is a major focus for us. We take pride in leaving no stone unturned and try to always push the boundaries of what we have to offer our clients as well as the experience that both our customers and their target audience get to take part in.


Q: Streamlining Customization: What are the key strategies and technologies you employ to streamline the process of on-site product customization?

A: One of the very unique and truly special aspects of Family Industries is how like-minded and collaborative everyone is across our roster. We actively think out every step of our activations, even going so far as to set-up mock event layouts to ensure a speedy yet interactive experience for our clients. This attention to detail added with the large quantities of events we offer and execute, creates a machine that is constantly broadening what we offer while still getting products out in a timely and enjoyable manner.


Q: Challenges in Live Printing: What are the most significant challenges you face in live printing at events and retail spaces, and how do you overcome them?

A: The most significant challenges of printing on-site would have to be space and power. From a screenprinting POV space is always a tough one. In that realm, the more space the better. We had to get creative in our problem solving and have made smaller, more transportation-friendly presses specifically for these tight spaces. For embroidery, laser, heat-press, sublimation, etc. usually power is the main issue. We have used everything from large power-generators to tiny rechargeable power banks to running extension cords extremely large distances to the closest power drop.


Q: Enhancing Customer Experience: How does live merchandising enhance the customer experience and engagement at events, festivals, and in retail settings?

A: Live merchandising enhances the customer experience in that it is truly ALL ABOUT the customer and their journey through our activation. Our goal is for them to leave the event with something they will remember even if it isn’t something they will always necessarily keep. We always try to offer new items to customize or new methods of customization while still holding onto the theme of whatever festival, party, etc we are attending.


Q: Technology Integration: Can you elaborate on the technologies and equipment used to facilitate on-site customization and how they have evolved?

A: It’s a special time to be on either side of the customization fence whether you’re a client or a creator today. With so many emerging technologies and others continuing to progress and evolve, our list of what we can offer just keeps growing and growing. The inclusion of Artificial Intelligence for example into this space has transformed the backend of things, helping to streamline data flow for our staff and connect dots that otherwise needed to be done manually. For the customer, AI opens a whole slew of possibilities for customization that will only continue to spread and change over time. From an equipment perspective, the processes just continue to get faster and faster while offering more and more options and more often than not, have much smaller footprints as well.


Q: Customer Feedback: How does customer feedback influence your R&D process and the evolution of your live merchandising services?

A: The value of customer feedback in our industry can’t be overstated. Each event we do, our processes just continue to get better and better as we learn from our mistakes and take into consideration suggestions from our clients post-event or callouts from our staff on-site.


Q: Trends in Merchandising: What current trends are you seeing in merchandising, and how is Family Industries Live adapting to these trends?

A: Laser engraving has been a popular activation for us recently. As more and more events have chosen this method, we have focused on growing our arsenal of lasers to offer a myriad of options and choices for our clients to make in an effort to cater to what their vision is for their products.


Q: Future Developments: What future developments do you foresee in the field of live merchandising, and how is Family Industries Live preparing for these changes?

A: I see us pushing the boundaries of AI more and more in the coming months and years that soon follow. It is hard to guess where that road might take us but I’m extremely excited to see the meeting point of both what AI offers, from a user-perspective, as well as our precision executing said offerings.


Q: Collaborations and Partnerships: Can you discuss any memorable collaborations or partnerships that have influenced your R&D strategy?

A: To highlight one would be a disservice to the rest as every lesson learned through R&D, whether big or small, makes a world of difference both to our staffs on-site execution as well as our clients’ experience. A solution that results in one less step, or one minute less per product is as important as any other aspect of the event in ensuring its overall success.


Q: Case Studies: Can you provide examples or case studies where live merchandising significantly impacted a brand’s engagement or sales?

A: During the 2023 season, Stanley had a ton of hype and momentum and we executed a live event where we laser engraved bottles for their corporate team and loyal fanbase. This turned into Stanley bottles being a request at many of our events that soon followed. The same can be said for Nike Air Force 1’s, which we fully customize from transfers, to laser, to changing the laces and swooshes and have become an annual occurrence for us.