In the chaotic world that is this wonderful industry of ours, there are few constants. One standout is the relentless need for retail to evolve and adapt. As a result of changes being taken within, and forced upon the industry, the pressure to make retail experiences more engaging, effective and efficient has never been greater. Squeezed from one end by increased competition and rising operating costs, and shoppers who are increasingly transient at the other; there is no shortage of retailers left wondering what their best options are for the future.
Walking down Carnaby Street recently, I couldn’t help but notice the outside of Diesel’s store, emblazoned with the statement “perfection is boring”. It’s an interesting paradox, especially as we gather to celebrate the delivery of VM perfection.
“Perfection is boring”
With the growing trend towards personalisation, an increasing number of brands are championing individuality and the freedom of personal expression. The danger for retailers is that, in these cash-strapped, cost-conscious, results-driven yet risk-averse times, striving for ‘perfect stores’ – ruthless VM consistency for the purposes of operational efficiency – could see retailers sleepwalk into a world of bland consistency, delivering more of the same because ‘we know it works’. There will be a tipping point when ‘acceptable’ becomes unacceptable. There are already countless examples of brands visibly cutting corners. Is this good enough? No.
What’s becoming clear is the growing battle between creativity and rigour. With that in mind, VM teams should be engaged in a more realistic dialogue and agreement of what the standard instore should be. If brands are not sincere in their intent about aiming for high standards, then don’t. Just be prepared to simply watch the shopper and financial numbers fall away.
So we must accept the challenge that sits before us. Visual merchandisers must find ways to channel their individuality and creative freedom, while achieving high levels of consistent visual execution in every store, every day. We have to accept that often a more pragmatic, realistic and more common sense understanding of ‘perfection’ must prevail.
Prove the value that VM adds to retail performance, and show that there is a difference between creativity (fluff) and creative thinking.
Visual merchandisers must channel their individuality and creative freedom while achieving high levels of visual execution
Now more than ever, VM needs to make its voice heard, while earning its commercial stripes. This will not be a journey for the faint-hearted or those that give in easily, but to work in a productive, collaborative way. Where there is shared a brand vision, understanding, admiration and mutual respect from all involved – the prospects for future retail and career success remain positive.
I hope you enjoy tonight and savour your success – you’ve earned it. At the same time, be sure to continue to aim high and do ever better.