It’s day 3 of the Big Show and guess where I am?

Home.

I’m sick…

I know, sad story.

But, I realized something while chugging orange juice for potential Vitamin C power to chug through the day – I’m not going to let being sick get me down.

Just as retailers are being optimistic that the worst is over, I’m going to be optimistic that I’ll get better by tomorrow and will be able to sit in on some more interesting sessions at the show.

As I mentioned in Bringing Back the Buy, that is the key to being in business. Optimism is the light of life that should guide all actions of retail. It is something that is going to get me through today and get me through the rest of my life in a world of business.

There is so much optimism behind that and it is the same optimism and drive that keeps retailers afloat throughout the changes in multi-channel retailing.

E-tailing has become a way of the present. Years ago online retail seemed something from the movie Back To The Future, but now you can make purchases from your cell phone! Online, convenient shopping is more popular than I ever could have imagined.

What does that mean for tangible, walk-in stores?

That means that fewer customers will be making their purchases in person. It is easier to sit at a computer and choose at the click of a button what you want to buy rather than travel the distance to purchase it.

What can retailers do to convince customers that getting out of their pajamas to travel to stores is a better experience?

Give them the visual experience!

Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer, Executive Vice President of Sustainable Solutions, and speaker at the Sustainability in Retail session said, “Visuals drive change.”

He and Andy Thaemert, Associate Principal at retail design firm Callison and speaker at the Visual Merchandising: Infusing Artistry in Retail Design session spoke on the same topic – the theory that stimulating the customer’s experience visually can draw the customer to a store and away from a computer.

Having a strong market that is driven to shop in store is just as important as having a strong online presence. Finding the balance is what retailers need to do to maintain positive growth for both channels of retail. But, as of now, the bigger focus is keeping the attention of customers in person. That can be done through the visual merchandising.

Thaemert showed a number of slides giving a walk through of the newly opened Harvey Nichols flagship store in Jakarta. Instantly, even though I was not physically in the store, I saw through the photos a fantasy world made of unbelievably exciting visual merchandising. Looking at the photos left me breathless.

That is the effect that every retailer wants to have on a customer. That awe that draws them inward so that once they are inside, the real magic can begin.

One of the things that Harvey Nichols design team did was recycle things that were a part of Jakarta, such as steel oil drums, scooter tires, and glass bottles. They used those items to become part of the design of the store and it worked. Recycling is part of the restructuring of retailing and the way that it was shown in the Harvey Nichols store blew me away.

Without a doubt, retailers have to connect with their customers. The way to do that is through the visual merchandising. It is always going to be about the product itself, but instead now retailers need to spend a little more time focusing on how the product is showcased. That is what is going to bring the target customer into the physical, retail, store and keep them from the competitors.

If you can capture your audience in that way, you have done your job as a retailer and will capture audiences for years to come.

Jena Glick is a freshman at LIM College, one of the Foundation’s college partners.

Posted in: Colleges & Universities | Educators | NRF Foundation News | Retail News | Retailers | Students and tagged , , , ,
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