March 3, 2014, 1:36 PM

The business of retail store displays gets a boost online

Suppliers of retail store display equipment have new ways to connect with managers responsible for store displays through a new online business exchange launched today, A.R.E. Supplier Connect.

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The trade group behind the business of store merchandise displays is sharply stepping up its use of the web in promoting business among retail and brand managers and the suppliers of display products and services.

The Association of Retail Environments, commonly referred to as A.R.E., today launched A.R.
E. Supplier Connect at SupplierConnect.retailenironments.org, a web site designed to connect retailers and brand managers with the providers of store merchandise display equipment and services. The site offers mannequins, garment racks and shelving, window display props and merchandise display design services.

A.R.E. Supplier Connect was designed with 38 product pages, similar to product category pages on a retail e-commerce site, that lets visitors browse among merchandise display products and services for various types of merchandise displays, including pop-up stores as well as window street window displays and interior store arrangements of merchandise.

Retailers and brand managers can contact A.R.E. member suppliers from their web content on the A.R.E. Supplier Connect web site or after viewing the same content on the new A.R.E. Supplier Connect mobile app. They can also search on the web site for suppliers based on geographic area, and site visitors have the option of transferring supplier contact information to their smartphones.

A.R.E. also offers market data and reports on trends in its industry at Insights.retailenvironments.org as well as an overall umbrella site at RetailEnvironments.org, which provides links to the Supplier Connect and Insights web sites.

The launch of A.R.E. Supplier Connect site follows A.R.E.’s announcement last week that it had worked out an agreement with WindowsWear, a provider of information about retail store window displays in the world’s fashion capitals, including New York, Paris and London. The agreement provides A.R.E.’s members with a 20% discount on subscriptions to WindowsWear’s B2B web site, Pro.WindowsWear.com, for researching images and information on actual window displays created by more than 500 brands in such cities as New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. By viewing how retailers and brands are displaying merchandise, and what fixtures they’re using, A.R.E. member companies will use the information to search for clients as well as other suppliers to form joint offerings, says Todd Dittman, executive director of A.R.E.

WindowsWear Pro shows images of window displays put on by such retailers as Macy’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, H&M and Tommy Behama. It charges annual subscription fees ranging from $999 for a single user to $3,499 for an unlimited number of users. It also provides advertising opportunities on its site to providers of windows display products and services. WindowsWear Pro has also agreed to grant A.R.E. member companies a 20% discount on advertising fees.

WindowsWear also operates the consumer-facing WindowsWear.com, which lets consumers view merchandise as featured in window displays and click the display images to make an online purchase of featured merchandise from a retailer.

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