Merci Concept Store – Paris.

As with many visits to cities around the world, I try and visit Paris as often as possible in order to check out what the retail stores are doing in terms of Visual Merchandising/Store Windows/Store Presentation. 

I endeavour to visit Paris in late November/early December to take a look at the various Christmas concepts at stores such as Galleries Lafayette, Printemps and of course no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to Merci, the fantastic concept store. 

Tucked away off Boulevard Beaumarchais in the Marais district is Merci, this unique and hip concept store. 

It is modern retail built around a lifestyle: Travel, Cooking, Reading, Home Interiors.

With online shopping increasing, bricks and mortar stores need to deliver more than just merchandise – the need to deliver an experience. 

A tiny red Fiat car with a number plate that reads Merci is what you first encounter as you walk down the cobbled path and enter the courtyard of the concept store that oozes style and ambience. 

Resisting seduction after entering this lofty former warehouse is pointless. Spread out over three floors and in every nook and cranny, there is plenty to discover. The store includes Homewares, Furniture, Lighting, Gifts, Interiors, Fashion, and whatever the latest cool thing Mercians has sourced all presented with design and flair. There is more to Merci, than just a wonderful shopping experience.

Look out for next week’s Creative Download VM blog “The Christmas Shop at Fortnum & Mason”.

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http://www.creative-download.co.uk 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Bringing foliage & greenery into Visual Merchandising.

Over the years, Visual Merchandising incorporating floral displays has been a popular tactic to bring shops and department stores to life. There are many ways to be creative in catching the attention of the shoppers.  In the world of retail, snap decisions account for half of all purchases, so the eye appeal of a window display can really influence whether a shopper chooses to buy or not. 

The effect of a visually stunning commercial window concept/display is of a round the clock advert for our business. Many retailers use flowers/foliage to add interest to their windows and build their unique brand, attracting customers as well as promoting the merchandise. Many window designers are creating stunning backdrops out of card, paper and other materials.  Anthropologie is a great example of using creativity with its oversize flowers, leaves and foliage in their store windows. 

Here in London, during the famous Chelsea Flower Show (held each May) the retail shops/stores in Sloane Street, Sloane Square, and The Kings Road are resplendent in floral displays, which are simply stunning. 

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

H&M Home Concept Store – Dubai

H&M is working on a rapid expansion plan for their Home Stores. After the huge success of London, other stores in Brussels and Zurich closely followed. The first H&M Home Concept store has opened in the Middle East. Taking centre stage in The Dubai Mall, the store offers everything for your home, in an inspiring and sustainable way, at great prices.

Explore modern pieces from small furniture and lighting, to accessories for every room. Find staple items for kitchen & dining room, including dried food and fresh flowers.

The visual presentation is superb with ambient lighting, good customer flow and great fixtures. This is certainly the way forward with modern home stores.

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http://www.creative-download.co.uk

Project Earth – Selfridges

Selfridges has launched a new sustainability initiative – Project Earth.

Project Earth wants to reinvent retail by working together with brand partners to address the materials used in products to shop sustainably, according to Selfridges. Anne Pitcher, Selfridges Group Managing Director said in a statement: “We firmly believe evolving the way we do business and supporting change in the way people shop is essential to building a more sustainable business”

Sustainability sits at the heart of the business and the store. It is an ambitious new sustainability project, which asks brands to meet strict new sourcing standards.

By 2025, the most environmentally impactful materials used throughout the business will come from certified, sustainable sources. In line with this, Selfridges aims that by 2030, they are going to reduce the carbon impact of their purchased goods by 30 percent from a 2018/2019 baseline. Selfridges is also in partnership with The Woodland Trust, WWF and Zoological Society of London.

Selfridges is committed to responsible sourcing, so you have the power to make more sustainable choices. By working closely with their brand partners, they find the best sustainable products. Shopping our Project Earth collections is just one small way customers can make a difference too. Let’s change the way we shop.

Selfridges Project Earth campaign continues in the stunning Food hall with hanging graphics educating customers about the campaign.

The main focal point as you walk through the Food Hall is the well-stocked fixtures of gourmet delights. The range has been handmade by artisans and designed with sustainability in mind.

From vegan recipes including Bakery to Super Seaweed to Earth-Conscious Coffee & Chocolate. It’s a feast!

Join the store to discover the most exciting design innovations, retail concepts and thought-provoking ideas in sustainability, as they launch a series of new commitments set to radically change our business with the launch of Project Earth. From online events to inspiring interviews and positive everyday solutions – discover it all at Selfridges.

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London’s new “Homeware Destination”

London’s new ‘Homeware Destination’ has arrived!

Harrods, London’s iconic department store, has transformed the entire 3rd Floor of the store into the UK’s largest interiors showcase.

This store overhaul is part of the four year £200m plus covering 160,000 sq ft showcasing 138 brands from Britain, Europe and further afield.

So many boutiques and so much merchandise all under one roof makes for easy and inspiring homeware shopping across many price categories. There are familiar High Street Brands such as The White Company to cool, flash and funny designer favourite Fornasetti, through to Linley, Meissen, Wedgwood, Etro and Dior to name a few.

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Foodhalls creating Retail Theatre

Given these unprecedented times in retail, many department stores have a brisk trade in their Foodhalls.  While the lure of window displays and browsing the fashion and home floors of a department store is exciting, there is one area of the store that is must visit – The Foodhall & Wine Shop.

This department play an integral part of the success any store.  Whether you are purchasing  a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, or something sumptuous for supper, Foodhalls within department stores generate serious revenue for the business. Most of these stores will produce their own label/branded goods and the most famous is Fortnum & Mason in London. Products include Tea, Coffee, Biscuits, Jams and their famous honey from the beehives situated on the roof of this iconic London store.

We all know that the London stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason have superb Foodhalls, but how many of us are aware of the stunning Foodhalls in stores around the world such as Jemoli in Zurich, Printemps in Paris, Ka De We in Berlin and Woolworths in Cape Town, to name just a few.

While many people would not associate Visual Merchandising with a Foodhall or Wine Shop, during my career as VM Manager at Selfridges in London, I oversaw the Foodhall & Wine Shop where we used to create some stunning concepts and promotions. Good Visual Merchandising is not only confined to the latest fashion trend or home accessory. You can even make Food look exciting and sexy! Creating retail theatre is not only for store windows.

More recently, I was involved with the launch of Habitat by Honest Bee in Singapore.  The On-line grocery company were launching Habitat, a unique 60,000 sq. ft food wonderland. Their first bricks & mortar store. The business model was a multi-sensory, tech-meets-food grocery and dining experience like no other; see, smell, hear, touch and taste fresh flavours and food items from across the globe. Customers would scan the item on their iPhone and pay using their iPhone.

In addition to this many food retailers now include a Coffee Shop and sometimes restaurant within their Foodhalls. These include Dean & Deluca,  Jones The Grocer and Eataly.

Here is a selection of photographs from my files. So next time you visit a department store, go and visit the Foodhall & Wine Shop.

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The richness of Autumn

As we slowly reach the latter part of 2020, Autumn is just around the corner.

The warm Autumn has richer and darker colouring: rich coffee, golden brown, camel, reds with yellow or orange undertones, emerald, teal, yellow gold, medium olive green, mixed with intense hues of berries and bark.

The richness expected from Autumn is definitely on trend, given the merchandise I am seeing in the various stores in both Home/Interior and fashion categories.

If you’re a fan of Scandinavian design, then this is something you should try and experiment with as woven textures are often used to bring softness into Nordic interiors.

As we approach the end of Summer, retailers need to prepare their stores for this new season. Given the recent lockdown, it is paramount to have that all-important newness to create a fresh ambience for those ‘must have’ purchases.

Here are some of ideas of Autumn home interior and fashion merchandising for your store.

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Pop Up Stores

Following on from last week’s VM blog about Concept Stores this week’s blog is focusing on Pop-up Shops.

These are a great opportunity for retailers to pursue different types of goals: they are a neat way to launch products, to collect data for marketing research or to test a specific market or location. The single most important ingredient in the recipe of success is to set a clearly defined goal. It’s the only way to create the right strategy and reliably measure its effectiveness and success. I highly recommend working with an expert in this case, as factors such as optimal size, location, timing and design vary depending on your purpose and goal.

The golden rule of brick-and-mortar retail: the experience is everything. The past years have been shaped by an experience-driven retail trend.

It’s all about creating retail theatre, creating a memorable shopping experience for the customer which is something you don’t get when you are shopping on-line.

Pop-Up shops were introduced in the early 1990’s in cities such as London, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. These retail event spaces create theatre, create a fun place to shop and generate new customers, while building Brand awareness. This is a great opportunity for the Brand to educate customers, as well as connect with customers who normally shop on-line. It gives the Brand an opportunity for a Pop-Up shop without signing up to a long, expensive and complicated lease on a property.

While most Pop-Up shops are in Malls or on the street, some pop-up shops still remain physical bricks and mortar stores. In many department stores such as Selfridges in the UK, Pop-Up shops are installed and become part of the overall department store environment. It creates excitement and anticipation when a new Pop Up shop is being launched and is an opportunity to for Brands to promote a new product, or something that is on trend or even a Wedgewood Tea Shop in Peter Jones in London.

With any retail outlet (Pop-Up or Bricks & Mortar) good Visual Merchandising and Store Presentation is paramount.

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Concept Stores

As with most buzzwords, “concept store” is being used a lot in retail. So, what is a Concept Store? What differentiates one from a showroom or flagship store?

It is a shop that sells a carefully curated and unique selection of products that connect to an overarching theme. Often, they evoke a lifestyle that appeals to a specific target audience – they are inspirational.

Handpicked products are pulled together from different brands and designers, from around the world and they usually span different lines, such as fashion, beauty and homewares.

Concept stores are about discovery and experience. So, the products and design tend to change regularly to keep telling that story in new and interesting ways.

Many of them offer extra experiential elements such as a café or events space, which help build a community around the lifestyle they embody.

It is modern retail built around a lifestyle.

With online shopping increasingly the norm, bricks and mortar stores need to deliver more than just the goods. They must be experiential, beautifully designed ‘master shops’, enticing visitors off their apps and through their doors.

There are many concept stores in many great cities around the world, although in my view the best has to be Merci in Paris. Definitely worth a visit.

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Harrods Outlet Store

The world-famous department store Harrods has launched an outlet store in Westfield White City in London, where it will host end-of-season sale items.

The move is an unusual step for the iconic London store, which only has its Knightsbridge location and a few airport stores, but the decision has been taken as a result of the recent pandemic and lockdown, which has left plenty of stock to shift!

Harrods has rented an 80,000 Square foot space in the shopping complex which was formerly occupied by Debenhams.

So, as you can image there was quite a lot of excitement in the media about this Outlet store. On visiting the store, I did find it disappointing. While I appreciate that social distancing measures are paramount, the whole store was just a bit too clinical with no retail theatre to excite customers.  The staff greeted customers at the door and Security guys said “Thank you for shopping with us” as I left.

I couldn’t help feeling it was a case of “stack it high, sell it cheap” in the Food, Gifts and Beauty section. In fact, the Beauty section reminded me of shopping in an airport duty free store with everything “on offer”.

I am sure that the fashion-conscious customers will be hunting for bargains in the high-end fashion brands, but sadly the store was not for me as I left empty handed.

During my many years as a Visual Merchandiser at the store in Knightsbridge, I remember with fond memories the buzz and excitement of the first day of the Sale. With the crowds waiting eagerly outside Door 5 and Mr Al Fayed with a guest celebrity counting down to 9am. There was much excitement and anticipation as to the huge number of customers who would run to their favourite department to grab the bargains as soon as the doors opened. Now that’s what I call retail theatre. Sadly, those days are long gone.

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