Visual Thinking’s senior retail specialist Katy Trodd shares her story of how we’ve helped to deliver VM excellence in fashion retail over the last six months.
Katy’s Story… Harley-Davidson Digital VM Tool
At Visual Thinking, we start by ‘looking and listening’ at our clients’ business first, and in detail. Methodical and pragmatic, we take see things from a practical standpoint, using our successful ‘Thinking Like A Customer’ approach. Once the issues that are affecting store performance have been identified, we’re then able to unravel, unpick and untangle them in more depth before proposing solutions for improvement.
What made our recent project for Harley-Davidson different was that we were already clear about the VM policies and standards we wanted store teams to deliver, having developed these previously. Instead, the challenge was to provide dealership teams with practical VM support and making it as easy as possible for teams to understand how to apply ‘the look’, without being there in person to guide them.
Easily and continuously transfer knowledge and skills.
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 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 Harley-Davidson to easily and continuously transfer knowledge and skills, globally.
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. Useful functionality such as search also means teams can easily identify the specific help topics they need, and quickly.
I learnt lots of things myself about the way that I naturally do things.
The biggest part of my role in the development of the digital VM tool involved dissecting how each part of the brand’s VM process and standards were applied, in meticulous, granular, painstaking detail. One of the hardest challenges was to show this in reverse order for the cameras to produce the visual content of the tool. 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.
During the process, we were able to identify a series of practical steps and important stages that store teams might have missed out along the way. Instead of making assumptions about how these activities are done, and most successfully, it was important that we actually knew and could show how to achieve these in reality. This confirmed how much of my own VM skills have been learnt, but day-to-day are subconsciously applied, versus what needed to be consciously demonstrated and shared to people as key process stages.
People can learn step-by-step and use the tool repeatedly to improve.
I’ve recently been involved in introducing the new digital VM tool to Harley-Davidson’s UK dealer teams. Their 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. With all new showroom photography and the ability to change languages in a single swipe this has proved a real game changer.
Overall, the new tool has been a great addition to the existing VM communications and tools that are made available to the dealer network and showroom teams. As a company, Harley-Davidson is committed to providing the dealers with the great support to help their businesses grow. Having worked in the VM industry for many years, I can honestly say there is nothing like this out there. It’s great to see an iconic brand like HD acting with leadership in this important area.
To read more about our digital VM tool for Harley-Davidson, and how you can rejuvenate store performance through better VM execution, download our latest report ‘Better Fashion Retail’.