The difference we make to store performance.
Three Visual Thinking’s retail specialists share their stories of how we’ve helped deliver VM excellence in fashion retail over the last six months. From game-changing policy development to the launch of an innovative digital learning tool.
Kirsty’s Story… New Look ‘Best Dressed’ Guidelines
During what can be troubling times for a retailer, having access to proven experience and a reliable, trusted source to advise and guide senior leadership teams is vital. In my role as lead retail specialist with Visual Thinking, I have a responsibility to provide informed insight and practical support to highlight where and how retailers can make immediate and visible improvements. This is the part of the job that I really enjoy.
Over the last few months, the team I’ve led have worked tirelessly to support the brand in rebuilding the foundations and mechanisms for more effective VM delivery within New Look. It all came together in the form of a new store presentation guidelines programme called ‘Best Dressed’.
It’s all about driving the ‘constant and the permanent’ harder: the culture for VM.
As a principles-based guidelines programme, it provides VM information for equipment use and configuration etc., and company wide retail standards to follow, based on retail teams’ store specific circumstances and local product assortment. It’s all about driving the ‘constant and the permanent’ harder: the culture for VM. Only by affecting this can a retailer fully get behind the bigger goal of delivering a great customer experience everyday. Here, integrating the limitless power and immense selling potential of better VM, as part of their corporate DNA and daily retail life can be truly transformational. It is the key element in their shopper attracting, customer retaining, sales driving, loyalty building, value adding, competitor beating commercial strategies.
Working with New Look, I’ve been challenged to do this every step of the way. It’s been tough but, ultimately, hugely rewarding. I know we’ve made a significant difference in the retailer’s own demanding commercial circumstances. Seeing the changes we’ve made, and knowing this has delivered against all the KPI’s we were set, reconfirms my deep belief in the value that effective VM can achieve for our clients.
Kirsty Kean, Lead Retail Specialist
Suzanne’s Story… Harley-Davidson Digital VM Tool
Embedding VM best practice across many national stores is one thing. Doing it effectively on a global scale is something else. That was precisely the challenge facing world-famous motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson. To do this, the brand needed new thinking that would fundamentally change how it communicated best practice and developed the VM capability of its international dealer teams.
This particular project saw us launch a new online VM learning tool; building on the brand’s already successful global VM programme that we initially developed and launched back in 2012. This was about putting VM best practice at the fingertips of brand teams in a way that would build capability and quickly improve the standard and consistency of VM execution. Above all, it had to be a borderless, 24-7-360 online solution. One that was highly engaging, intuitive and accessible to a truly global audience.
It’s proved to be a master class in effective VM communication.
To ensure best practice could easily be understood and followed by a ‘non-VM expert’ showroom team audience, we proposed a visually rich online VM learning platform that would remove both the language and adoption barriers that existed with previous guidelines in a single swipe. Enabling store teams to deliver the desired look ‘right first time’ can often the difference between success and failure.
Big ideas like this drive our business. I’m super proud to have played my part in this truly game-changing digital VM solution. In just six short months, our digital VM learning tool has transformed the way Harley-Davidson shares its information on VM standards and develops the skills of dealer teams. It’s proved to be a master class in effective VM communication and has raised the bar for VM standards in hundreds of Harley-Davidson showrooms in places worldwide.
Suzanne Tanner, Senior Retail Specialist
Katy’s Story…Harley-Davidson Digital VM Tool
Visual Merchandisers are naturally creative people; it’s a key requirement of their role. But many lack the confidence or ability to be able to demonstrate and explain what they do to others. Even if that’s not the case, brands aren’t always able to put dedicated VM expertise onsite in every location. This project for Harley-Davidson aimed to solve both theses problems. To do this, we set about distilling essential VM’s expertise into a simple to use, helpful digital VM training tool that would enable the brand to easily and continuously transfer knowledge and skills, globally.
The biggest part of my role in the project involved dissecting how each part of the brand’s VM process and standards were applied, in meticulous, granular, painstaking detail. This has meant taking what is intuitive to experienced visual merchandisers and breaking everything down and re-presenting expert knowledge and skills into bite-sized, easy to follow steps and visually-led instructions that even someone with little exposure to VM could work with. It was actually a really interesting process and I learnt lots of things myself about the way that I naturally do things to achieve the right VM standard.
While I’ve been introducing the new digital VM tool to Harley-Davidson’s UK dealer teams, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. People really enjoy the flexibility of being able to see this as video-based instructions. Stop, start, pause, and play. It means people can learn step-by-step and use the tool repeatedly to improve their own practical abilities. Having worked in the VM industry for many years, I can honestly say there has proved to be a real game changer.
Katy Trodd, Senior Retail Specialist
Ellie’s Story… New Look Project Delivery
Our recent work with New Look was my first client brief with practical, creative VM responsibilities. From start to finish, I found the process fascinating.
I’ve been able to influence what I know to be better VM solutions while learning how to build in the commercial metrics we have to meet. It’s challenged me to think differently and I’ve been able to see the impact of the decisions that I’ve personally made. While I’ve been able to apply my instinctive VM knowledge and creativity in the solutions we’ve introduced, it’s my broader communication skills that have developed the most during this project.
Success is all about working in a way that’s truly collaboratively.
When retailers engage consultants to support their business there can sometimes be challenges to overcome, such as being aware of and carefully managing concerns amongst internal teams. Success is all about working in a way that’s truly collaboratively, engaging people so they embrace the changes that are needed to achieve the end results our clients are seeking. Unless the client’s teams really do support us being there, and also buy into the changes that we recommend, it’s hard to make progress. It’s part of our role to ensure we land the projects successfully, and keep people onside while doing so.
The real test of the success, however, is when shoppers just like what they see, and start shopping differently. I’m proud to be able to say, and see, that I’ve played a role in helping New Look to transform their store performance, delivering better looking stores and new, more effective VM solutions that are fast, easy and effective to rollout – changes that can be implemented across a large business quickly to maximise and be sustained. It’s really satisfying when people say you’ve made a positive difference. It’s when you know you’ve got what it takes.
Ellie Pask, Graduate Intern Project Manager