owner of visual communications agency VM Guru, market expert in visual merchandising and store design.
To begin with, let's figure out what the phrase “shopping concept” of a brand means in general, how it differs from a regular effective store and what trading space sells better today.
Shopping concept - This is the design and interior of a typical store, reflecting the essence of the brand or, as marketers say, the brand’s DNA, as well as emphasizing the unique advantages of the product. As a rule, this is a store project involving replication. At the same time, one brand may have stores in several shopping concepts, as chain fashion retailers often create a more vivid and memorable shopping concept for flagship stores and a more typical one for everyone else.
Why does the brand spend effort and money on developing a unique concept instead of just building a store with an effective layout and equipment?
First of all, because we work today in a highly competitive market and a one-time sale of the product is no longer sufficient. It is important for the brand to please the buyer, to be remembered, to establish a long-term relationship with him, to make the buyer return to your store again and again.
Trading space should help the brand solve two blocks of tasks.
The first block is the promotion and sale of the product itself.
The retail space should be comfortable, show all collections, orient the buyer in space, seasons and models, as well as maximize the time spent in the store. The longer it is inside the store, the more likely it is to buy, because the final decision to purchase in 65-85% of cases is made impulse at the point of sale.
The second block of tasks is the promotion of the brand image.
The trading space should convey to the visitors the brand’s values and DNA through design and interior, create an emotional experience for the buyer, rebuild from competitors, and demonstrate the uniqueness of the brand and product. You need to please the buyer, be remembered at a subconscious level and make sure that he wants to "communicate" with your brand again and again. Unfortunately, the second block of tasks cannot be solved simply by an effective store (good performance indicators of a retail outlet).
Trading concept: from idea to implementation
Paul Smith, the designer and owner of Paul Smith House, once said about his stores, once said:
“In the creative industry, many believe that the most important thing is design. Design is certainly very important, but there are many other very important things. Individualism is extremely important, because now there are too many shops, restaurants, cars, airlines. A brand must have a personality, a personality that is visible in the crowd! ”
Of course, the brand identity should be expressed primarily in the product (but this is a separate big topic for another article), but it’s also important that it be felt both in the sales concept and in the presentation of the brand’s collections at the point of sale.
By the way: Paul Smith brand has different stores. Paul himself is actively involved in the development of each design concept personally, so all the stores are “Him” and at the same time everyone is unique, they, like talented children who have chosen different professions, are still similar to their ingenious parents.
Today, the main commercial trend in the development of trading concepts is the strengthening of the role of the emotional component of the shopping concept and the visual presentation of the product in the outlet as a whole.
This is clearly seen in the evolution that the brand strategy of Tommy Hilfiger, expressed in the trading concept, went through. It is enough to compare the stores that were open before the 2008 of the year with today's brand's shopping concept. The company is positioning itself as a brand for consumers of 25-40 years, the basis of the collections is "comfortable American casual classics." The brand set the task of expanding its target audience and “conquering” the young buyer, mainly due to the visual presentation of goods and clearance of stores, since the product offer, in general, has not changed.
Today, their stores are far from a classic trading space, they are distinguished by a thoughtfully “fun” trading concept with a lot of emotional elements and non-trading art objects: old mannequins, globes, porcelain dogs, oars, golf clubs - all this emphasizes the way it is is a modern buyer of the TH brand. It should be noted that such a radical change in the visual image of the brand has seriously increased sales. In 2014-2015 Tommy Hilfiger entered the top 10 brands in the apparel market (according to Millward Brown) as one of the fastest growing companies with brand value increasing by 29% annually.
What is the charm and commercial value of such stores? Due to their emotionality, they are detached from competitors and “fall in love” with the buyer in their brand at a subconscious level. Next time, the buyer, without even analyzing why, will go through the “identical” stores and go to the familiar “store-friend”.
Today, one of the main commercial trends in creating trading concepts is to increase the emotional component. Here are just a few examples of brands that have established themselves in the global market due to their unique trading concept.
ADVENTURE COMPANY - An Australian brand with a very narrow (and, therefore, complex) assortment structure - shoes for mountaineering and outdoor activities. The company managed to take place as a retail chain, primarily due to its attractive and unlike any other eco-friendly concept of retail space.
SHOES OF PREU - A unique project that came out of the online store, where the buyer was invited to “construct” shoes for himself by combining the available models, colors, material, pads and accessories. The project was successful, and the owners decided to go offline and open retail outlets. However, they did not just create beautiful, functional stores. In their shopping concept, they reflected the main advantage of the brand - the ability to create their own shoe design, beating it as a kind of style bar shops, glamorous outlets for fashion-conscious shoppers who are ready to develop shoes for themselves in detail.
The basis of sales in a brand is, first of all, typical models, which are presented here in the store, on the usual displays for the buyer around the perimeter of the retail space. This is a unique and win-win concept, at the same time convenient for shopping, and one hundred percent memorable.
Commercial Low Budget Solutions
The emotionality of the brand is very important today. At the same time, no one calls for “creative without borders”, there should be a measure in everything.
For a shoe store, the emotional component must be meaningful, sustained, and may well turn out to be low budget.
Possible options for the emotional components of the trading concept:
Sometimes it’s enough to introduce an emotional component, creating original trading equipment or even one element of trading equipment. For example, the entry stopper table for a youth shoe brand can be very unusual and attracting attention: say, the countertop is made of aged wood, and instead of legs, bicycle wheels. Even one such element can express the brand’s message - “We are modern, we are funny, we are sports!”
The images inside the trading floor at the top non-trading level also work fine. But it must be images that seem to tell stories about your hero, about the target audience, and not just photos of the goods on the models. At special authoring trainings on the development of trading concepts, it is studied in detail how to choose an emotional component for a brand, what photo concepts should be, so that they evoke the right emotions for the target audience and are remembered at a subconscious level. A striking example of the emotional concept of POS is Converse's children's and youth photo images. Banners work for all 100%: they zoning the space, and report on the brand’s new trade offer, and reveal the brand’s message. Comments, as they say, are unnecessary.
When choosing the plot of a seasonal photo concept, it is important to understand that capturing a seasonal product in a photo shoot is, of course, desirable, but still the message, mood and emotions that the brand wants to express are primary for you. This is what customers subconsciously “count” and remember. Unfortunately, in Russian projects it is precisely the emotional component that is often absent, or poorly, very corny, primitively designed.
Of course, in creating an effective trading concept, there are a lot of "pitfalls", therefore, a professional team of visual merchandising specialists who understand the specifics of the brand, product, competitive environment and principles of working with the retail space should be involved in the development of the design concept.
6 Rules for Creating an Effective Commercial Concept
In order for a trading concept to reflect the brand’s features and be commercially effective, that is, to sell, the following rules for creating a retail space must be observed and worked out “under the concept”:
1. The Golden Triangle Rule
The “Golden Triangle” is the area between the cash register, checkout area and shop windows, and it should be maximum. This allows you to expand the focus area of attention. The retail space in which the product is sold best.
2. Clockwise rule
Most of the customers are right-handed, and when they enter the store, 70% of them start moving counterclockwise. This rule works, and it is important to consider it when zoning and when choosing zones for the priority lines / collections of the brand.
3. Mobile Zoning Rule
The space of the store should be divided into visual, understandable for the buyer areas. This makes it easier for him to sort out the offer and find "his" product. The most effective way to delimit space is “mobile zoning,” or “zoning without walls.” In this case, the brand does not become a hostage to stationary zones. The store can adjust the size and capacity of the goods in the zone, depending on the purpose. You can change the capacity of the zone, visually reducing or expanding it, and changing the location of the equipment. You can generally change the appearance of the retail space, which gives the buyer the impression of “all new”, that is, a new product and makes you want to go to the store. When building mobile zones in a store, it is important to take into account several commercial priorities in the correct sequence: the seasonality of the product, age and gender groups, and further style groups, within which you need to correctly identify the key product.
4. The Rule of Gold Trading Levels
The development of wall and floor equipment should be carried out taking into account the “golden trading levels” at which the product is best sold: the level of the outstretched arm and the level of the gaze of the buyer (the height of the average woman is taken to calculate height - 170 cm).
5. Hardware Grouping Rule
The correct arrangement of the equipment, taking into account the distance between it, in accordance with the norms of your segment, as well as the use of “rooting” will allow you to direct the buyer through all the collections on the trading floor.
6. The rule of "warming" of shopping areas
This tool helps to make the “cold” space (which is not visible from the entrance) more efficient and make the most of the “hot” space, as well as the potential of the entrance area. Often in the stores the entrance space is empty, and the equipment is located in the back of the hall, so that, according to the store management, it was easier for the buyer to go inside, but this is a gross mistake. The entrance space sells, and is very powerful, so there must definitely be trading equipment with a key seasonal product, designed emotionally, with elements from the current storefront concept. In essence, this is the storefront. In this case, the equipment in the entrance zone should be arranged in such a way that it directs buyers into the zones - to the wall equipment and beyond.
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