The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: Appliance World, Denver
Dec 1, 2007 1:00 PM, By Dan Daley
Retail Traffic Enhancement
There's an irony in having a home theater integrator install a home theater in a place that sells home theaters — a kind of picture-in-picture tableau where more than the usual considerations have to be kept in mind. “We did have to remember that this wasn't just the usual home theater install,” says Shawn Hansson, CEO of Logic Integration, the installation company that put the AV and security systems into six new 40,000-square-foot Appliance World retail stores in the Denver area this year. “We wanted people who came to the home theater to enjoy the experience, but we also had to keep in mind that the store wanted them to also buy the home theater, too,” he says.
There is an old adage in retail that goes, “The longer they stay, the more they pay,” and AV integration in the retail environment is, at its core, all about getting people to come in to a space and then linger there, falling in love enough with whatever it is the retailer is selling and taking it home. That's not that easy when we're talking about 500lb. Viking stoves.
One of the ways that Logic Integration accomplished that mission was in the placement of an LG 50PY3D 50in. plasma screen in the kitchen areas of each store. This wasn't to sell the plasma set itself, but rather to act as a beacon, beaming images of live cooking demonstrations by local celebrity chefs from Sony PVBullet CCD cameras. What better way to get someone into the kitchen and stay a while?
“It had to be put into a spot where it could be seen by the greatest number of people, and that's not as cut and dried as it might seem at first,” Hansson says. “You have to calculate the height and angle, taking into account the ambient lighting in the area, and the fact that you want the people who can't get in close to be able to watch on the monitor, but you don't want to make it so comfortable to watch the screen that they don't try to get themselves in closer to the action. You want it low enough so that people don't have to crane their necks, but high enough so that it's not getting splattered with grease.”
There is no CAD program that creates an automatic solution; the answer was trial and error, with a tech on a ladder moving a Chief PCM 2000 wall-mount tilt bracket inch by inch until his colleague on the floor found the sweet spot.
The home theaters in each store are in their own area, but it's not a fully enclosed theater environment, which also created ambient-lighting issues. The solution was to orient the theater at 90 degrees to the entrance so that ambient light could enter from only one side. The install side of the solution complements that by engaging the viewer with a combination of an 82in. 16:9 Da-Lite motorized drop-down screen, fed by a Sharp DT-510 projector that is mounted above the seating area, and an LG 50PC5DC 50in. plasma display all mounted in the same piece of furniture. Reinforcing this focus of the consumer's attention is an array of 5.1 surround-sound systems set up around the displays. Each of these, including the rear surround loudspeakers, are suspended behind the seats from the drop ceiling, and the five subwoofers suspended to the sides. Two displays can be selected via the Audio Authority switching system that Logic Integration also installed.
“What makes it work is that while the speakers lined up on either side of the displays look great and catch your attention aesthetically, they also work — you can demo any of the systems with a button push on the switcher,” Hansson says. Using a single matrix for all the sound systems also avoids the possibility of any two being on simultaneously, which could result in phase problems. “There's also a very short delay when the switching takes place, so there's no popping noises when [testing the] systems.”
The Audio Authority system distributes the audio between three to six zones per store, including store-wide paging and the background music sourced from XM Satellite Radio and delivered by DirecTV; the system also distributes several video channels to the various retail television displays and the kitchen showroom areas. The content is a combination of HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, broadcast, DirecTV, and customized advertising created and paid for by various CE vendors whose wares are sold in the stores. “That's a great way to have part of the installation pay for itself over time,” Hansson says. “But the key to making that work and not making the customer feel bombarded by advertising is to have the content well-produced and have the audio at a reasonable level.”
The distributed audio comes from the 24 to 36 Niles Audio CM8 MP 8in. flush-mount in-ceiling loudspeakers Logic Integration installed, and they are powered by Nile SI amplifiers stacked in Middle Atlantic ERK-1820 racks hidden in the home theater showroom. The ceilings of the stores are high — as much as 24ft. in some locations, necessitating the placement of additional JBL Control 24C loudspeakers hung from the building's trusses 16ft. above the floor.
The audio is a 100V system, chosen because the store owner wanted extra power to boost excitement in the kitchen showrooms during demos. “You have the volume that attracts shoppers to an area where something's going on, but you have to make sure that the sound system is pleasing to listen to at higher volumes,” he says. Each kitchen area has its own volume control accessible to the sales associates.
The installation team ran Windy City Cat-5 wire in the L-channel of the ceiling trusses and painted it to further camouflage it. “All the runs are at 90 degrees to keep it less apparent,” Hansson says, who adds that keeping the nuts and bolts of the install invisible to better showcase the products was a priority to the owners.
Logic Integration treated the security system similarly. It placed Sony CCD and PalmVid PVZoomDome-CO cameras to cover the usual locations, such as entry and loading docks, but the team painted them to match the backgrounds and positioned them discreetly. “The owners didn't want customers to feel like they're being watched,” Hansson says. Security images are stored to a GeoVision GV1240 -16 DVR system linked to the Internet via GeoVision's software, allowing remote viewing of any camera in any store on a PC.
The Appliance World project had another challenge that's peculiar to retail: The install had to be done either while all the other trades were working on the ground-up locations or after hours at renovated stores. Hansson says the strategy was to work in teams, concentrating on one area of the store at a time, and to use a combination of patience and diplomacy when their work competed with that of plumbers, masons, and electricians. At renovated locations, they had to cover all the appliances and other products with tarps, and they kept a Shop-Vac close by the drill for any drywall cutting that was needed. To further complicate matters, the six stores had to be done in two weeks to meet pre-holiday sales deadline.
In the end, the project came in on time, and according to Hansson, the attention to detail has already begun to pay off in terms of higher sales. “Integration at retail is a matter of learning how to position the systems so that they draw people in,” he says.
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