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Comment: Does design work? by Briggs Hillier managing director Jenny Hillier

Does design work?

Perhaps a strange question to ask while we are taking part in the UK’s premier retail design show, but nevertheless the role – and impact – of good design must not be underestimated nor undervalued. Taking a few moments out of a busy show has given us the perfect opportunity to reflect on this.

The best retail executions start with the shopper in mind. All shoppers have a need or needs. Understanding and building upon this has proven to be the foundation of the mist successful store design. Solid shopper insight, coupled with an in-depth 360 degree understanding of the brand, sector, competitors and product will always win out and should address the questions, concerns and objectives of the stakeholders who often have different needs and priorities.

It’s also important to remember that unlike in the ‘good old days,’ the modern shopper does not become a shopper when they walk into a store and cease being a shopper when they leave with their purchases. Their ‘journey’ has never been so broad and has never encompassed so many touch points. The store is a stop on that journey. Hopefully, for us, the most influential one, but one which may or may not involve a purchase. Putting stock on display is simply not good enough any more: shoppers expect to be educated, inspired, assisted , engaged and, most importantly, influenced by stores.

Once the foundation of insights and strategy has been laid and the concept created, it’s time to get real. No retailer is blessed with an identikit estate or group of shoppers, so it’s important that the concept has been created with foresight, considering implementation across diverse retail environments and often different countries and cultures, to ensure the highest ROI without jeopardising brand equity. A small store in a tertiary town should exude the same brand values as a flagship in a capital city.

So does design work? Good design does. Good design draws on sound shopper insight, is inclusive of stakeholder input, breathes the brand and inspires all those involved, It carefully balances scalability, ROI and brand equity. But, most of all, good design is an output that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Briggs Hillier is exhibiting on stand H21 at Retail Design Expo

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