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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Summer & Tropical Holidays

Creative Download is back on Social Media, and despite updates on Instagram and Facebook, we felt it was not the right time to be compiling the weekly blog.

We are sure that many people have been enjoying home life during lockdown. This has been a very productive time for Creative Download with finalising Christmas concepts, tidying up old files on the Mac Books and planning Valentine and Chinese New Year concepts for 2021.

Thankfully our retail clients have started to re-open, so it has been good to freshen up their shop windows and in-store visual merchandising presentation.

Let’s start the blog thinking of summer and tropical holidays.

Tropical is by no means a new trend in interiors & fashion and is definitely one of the key looks for Spring/Summer.

Think lush tropical greenery and palm trees with colonial rattan and then add splashes of colour with vibrant cockatoos and mix it with gold pineapples and insects for a real dazzle of sunshine.

Everything from palm leaves, pineapples to exotic flowers and flamingos are serving a reflection of the unsettled storm-to-sunshine weather we have been having.

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Back To School.

As we know,  retail around the world has ground to a halt due to Corona Virus. Retail is certainly not in a good place at the moment. However, there is a glimmer of hope with lockdown restrictions in some countries slowly being lifted although the UK is some way behind.

So hopefully by the time the restrictions are fully lifted retailers should be thinking about “Back To School” windows. As with any concept, VM teams should be thinking and planning 6-9 months in advance.

Here at Creative Download we are finalising Christmas concepts for our clients which  include a Pop Up Christmas Gift Shop over multiple retail sites. Ho Ho Ho!

Here are some excellent inspirational window concepts from my files. Anything from fashion to chairs to over-sized pencils. The concept does not always have to relate to kids and stationery products. Back To School windows should be fun and a riot of colour and props. These windows should be inspiring and creative, as kids hate going back to school!

Given the strength of On-Line shopping retailers, with the help of the VM teams and Freelance Visual Merchandisers, stores should be stepping up a gear to ensure that all important ‘wow factor’ with creating retail theatre with both the window concepts and in-store presentation. It’s very much like the phrase “You Don’t Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression”

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Retail in Dubai

In early March, before the Corona Virus lockdown in Dubai, Creative Download returned to work on a retail project with one of its regular clients.

While in Dubai, there was an opportunity to take a look at some of the great stores on offer to the many people that visit Dubai and the Middle East. It is one of those places used for a short-break or as a stop over between UK/Europe and Asia/Australia.

Here is a selection of photographs from the some of the stores that can be found in The Mall of Emirates and the Dubai Mall.

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Giving a store a fresh update.

It’s quite staggering how much Visual Merchandising plays a key role in retail without the general public/shoppers realising it. From window changeovers to floor moves & presentation to store promotions/pop-ups, most of this work occurs during the night.

In early March, before the Corona Virus lockdown in Dubai, Creative Download returned to work on a retail project with one of its clients. The Jashanmal store group is a household name within the GCC and operates stores in and across the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.

The project was to re-vamp/re-merchandise two of their stores; The Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall.

Under the guidance of Creative Download, the In-House VM Team worked several overnight shifts to achieve the project. Fixtures were moved around, merchandise was relocated into zoned areas to give that all important shopping experience to the customer. Slow selling lines were removed from the store to make way for new products. Re-merchandising a store through the night is hard work and can be messy with stock left on the floor until it finds a new location, but so much can be achieved by 8am the following morning.

Retail has been experiencing tough trading conditions for some time, so it is crucial that retail stores look fresh, interesting and exciting to the customer. Visual Merchandising is absolutely paramount to the success of any retailer.

Despite creating a floor plan and strategy for the two stores, it’s all about creating something out of nothing and working with what you have, in the space you have. This certainly puts your Space Planning Skills to the test. Quite often the proposed floor plan does not always work, so you have to think on your feet as that 8am deadline approaches.

Although an element of creativity is needed, any floor moves must be commercially viable. Visual Merchandising doesn’t need big budgets. In this case we utilised the current fixtures as well as pulling fixtures from the warehouse/VM studio.

Currently retail around the world is at a standstill and despite the current situation we are facing, there is still renewed vigour within the retail industry with the people I am in contact with and the articles that I am reading.

In 2007/08 the UK was in recession and business was not in a good place. However, we pulled ourselves out and re-invented ourselves. People will always want to go shopping and there is no getting away from that. So, this is a great opportunity to think positive and long term so that they are ready for when the current situation changes.

Creative Download is currently working on several projects that will commence later in the year. In the meantime, do contact us for further information on how Creative Download can help drive your retail business forward.

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Taking a break.

Creative Download will be taking a break from writing the weekly blog. Our workload is quite hectic at present as we are working on a project in Dubai with a retail store group plus several projects back in the UK.

In addition to this, Creative Download is currently having its website redesigned and we are hoping to launch this around Easter.

In the meantime, thank you for following Creative Download and you can still follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

We will be back at Easter!

Thank You.