After a period of unprecedented change and innovation in the sector, retailers need to update their VM strategies to ensure they stay relevant and attractive to customers.
Physical stores have some distinct advantages over online shopping that mean brands will always benefit from combining the in-store brand experience with e-commerce. Here we take a look at what the physical store can offer that online shopping can’t, and some of the latest innovations and trends in retail visual merchandising.
Engage all the senses
Being able to engage all of the senses is clearly an advantage of the physical store.
We may think only certain product types engage certain senses – perfume is smelled, food is tasted – but big brands know that creating a multi-sensory experience, whatever their product, will have a greater impact on consumers. After Nike added scent to its stores, purchase intent among consumers increased by 80%. And let’s not forget the power of a simple jingle (think McDonalds or Intel) to instantly bring to mind a brand.
Multi-sensory design for retail is not new, however great leaps in technology mean we can now create exciting in-store displays that engage not only sight and touch, but sound, smell and taste too, creating a completely immersive in-store experience.
Branded pop-up stores and events have been growing in popularity throughout the pandemic. They can offer a relatively low cost and low commitment way for retailers to take creative risks, generate a buzz, or introduce their brands to new audiences by ‘popping up’ in an unexpected place. Some luxury fashion retailers have even followed their customers on vacation to the Hamptons or the Mediterranean.
These immersive pop up experiences usually combine a number of visual elements and plenty of opportunity for customers to interact with the brand, bringing together rich visuals, limited edition products, and opportunities to take part in a digital experience that is directly interlinked with the physical experience.
Check out Burberry’s Animal Kingdom, in association with Snapchat; a series of pop-ups that used augmented reality to create a game for customers and a wealth of user-generated content on social media.
Shop windows have also become an interactive shopping experience. Take a look at Selfridge’s The New Order campaign, which came alive via the use of QR codes that allowed passersby to explore and shop products without entering the store, during the height of the pandemic.
For the opening of their flagship London store, we worked with Levi’s and a group of influencers to create this unique, interactive in-store display. Shoppers could wander around the different interactive exhibits and find out more about these influencers. The effect was a museum-like installation that invited shoppers to get involved, connect with the Levi’s brand, and spend more time in the store.
Luxury brands need real stores
We’ve learned, especially over the past 18 months, that we really value human interaction and relationships. For luxury brands and retailers, having the opportunity to create personal interactions with customers is vital because luxury brands rely so heavily on repeat customers.
Luxury brands have to build high brand loyalty and they do this by offering great customer service in order to meet customers’ expectations of exclusivity. It’s difficult to maintain this loyalty through an online presence alone.
Bricks and mortar outlets will remain vital in personal luxury and fashion, but retailers will need to do more to build loyalty with customers, who now look to be entertained, rewarded and valued more than ever.
Design trend: Monochrome
When we hear monochrome, we immediately think black and white. But in 2021, we’re seeing a trend for monochrome windows of one key colour throughout, and yellow is having a moment – used in recent window displays by both Louis Vuitton and Swarovski.
Pantone even launched a new bright yellow hue called Illuminating, along with Ultimate Gray, as its two new colours for 2021 – both synchronously representing unity, stability and hope.
While monochrome outfits by luxury fashion houses are not new (think Chanel and their ubiquitous black and white suits of the 60s), using a single colour theme in a visual display is definitely a 2021 trend which looks set to carry on through summer.
For this monochrome red window at Harrods, our brief was create a luxurious statement for Alice and Olivia’s Fall collection with hundreds of red roses. It formed an opulent setting to feature key pieces from the collection.
Window trend: Natural and organic
People are drawn to nature and fresh air more than ever, and we’re all more focused on our well-being after the pandemic. From healthy food options to natural textiles and sustainable fashion, we’re all buying into good health and supporting the environment right now.
This Autumn, picture windows that are inspired by nature with materials like jute, linen and timber, and think subtle colours like terracotta, sage and olive greens, blush pinks and every shade of beige.
Below is the Chelsea Flower Show display for Hobbs’ flagship store, designed by their in-house team and realised by Minki Balinki.
Overall, be original
Trends are important as they allow you to respond to current moods and tastes and ensure you are creating something that is right for the moment. And we are clearly moving to an omni-channel future that means retailers will need to be more innovative with visual merchandising, combining tried and tested methods with technology and sustainability.
But paramount for success is being original.
Whether in the window, in-store, on a billboard or in a pop-up, the key to creating a truly attention-grabbing, crowd-stopping visual retail display is originality of concept, brilliantly executed.
Professional visual merchandisers are ready to help retailers and brands achieve all of this, by weaving together trends, new ideas, innovative technologies and experience to come up with something truly original and captivating for your next campaign.