KEPRON: One of the largest challenges is for retailers and brands
to realize customers are changing.
There is no longer a one-size-fits-all
GERDEMAN: There are two types
of shoppers: “I need it” and “I want it.”
Need shoppers frequent big-box stores
because they tend to be value-driven.
Want shoppers look to evoke emotions
and exemplify lifestyles.
KEPRON: It’s the Brand of Me, an
individual brand. For instance, when
my 13-year-old son interacts with
social networks, he creates content.
He recreates and redefines his experience to fit his own digital persona and
publishes it to project his experience.
He also becomes inherently good at
understanding how to market, to be
viable in his social network. He’s not
unlike a retailer who produces products or services and puts them in a
marketplace. My son’s expectations
about how he should play a role in
how things unfold will change the role
retailers will play to customers.
GERDEMAN: In the last few years,
the industry has seen remarkable
change. Before, retailers and apparel
manufacturers led the trends. They
were the true merchants and had a
feel for the product. Those same buyers are no longer in the same position.
They’re influenced by other entities,
like mathematicians who have data to
know what it takes to fill shelves and
Additionally, people want a curated selection of products in a
dynamic, customized store experience. Consumers drive fashion
trends, the speed of which change faster than ever.
THE DESIGN AND SHOPFITTING PROCESS
Retailers have relinquished control that was once in-house.
Building now is done by committee with leaner budgets and
tighter schedules. A desire for glitz is in some cases eclipsing
sustainability and economic soundness.
KAUFMAN: Years ago, architects and industrial designers
could be quite controlling, much more influential than they are
now. Also, whenever they could, they determined who the supplier
FE TZER: The old guard is gone that really knew how to build well.
Now we notice a giant lack of in-store planning capacity.
ERNEST: In the old days, suppliers dealt with a powerful guy
at the main retailer. There were in-house architects. The resources
were allocated accordingly. A store
layout could be done in a matter of
Now there’s an outside firm, committees, then 12- to 14-week lead
times from China. It’s had a major
impact with having to plan a lot farther ahead than in the past.
FEKETE: Schedules are tighter and
budgets are reduced. That has happened in the past eight to 10 years.
Also, retailers have more vendor
options available, adding pricing pressure in the market.
FETZER: Costs are amazingly low
for amazing materials, and fixture
manufacturers have become better at
performing on time than ever before,
when stores are properly designed and
FEKETE: Fixture designs have
become much more complicated
from an engineering perspective,
adding more time and cost to the
design/build process without necessarily increasing budget or extending
ERNEST: We used to be handed a
set of prints, with all the specification
decisions already made. Not anymore.
FETZER: Much is thrown away
now. I find, disappointingly, a general
desire for glitz and flash and a huge
disregard for building economically
and green. Metal, glass, and plastic
are high-carb-using materials, and
they are the craze.
The introduction of plate glass windows in the 1800s forever
changed the merchandising of product. Retailers created visual
tableaux to lure shoppers inside, and attention to merchandising
throughout the store followed suit.
KEPRON: Large expanses of glass not only brought light, but
upped the game for people in the display world to create amazing
stores at street level.
FE TZER: There has been a resurgence, of late, in paying attention
to windows. We’re seeing creativity equaling the old days, but with
GERDEMAN: In 1976, I took a job designing stores at The
Limited. It was wonderful training and prepared me for the years
ahead in retail and restaurant design. In the early days, use of visual
displays to communicate merchandise stories was important.
GH+A pays homage to visual merchandising’s past with this vintage form in its
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