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 July 2007

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Chief Editor
& Visualiser

Anuraag S

Swati Bhalla

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Serene Magic of Retail-Visual Merchandising
by Anuraag S

Few years back I was asked to give tips on Merchandise Presentation to a well-known retail chain of our country. When I visited the store, I saw they were selling 'textiles' which was expensive but they looked like rags. It was crowded and totally lacked colour sense. So, black, blue, shades of brown, grey… one didn't know where to look. I said give me ten minutes and I will organize your store. The textiles and the material are so good and the colours available are in vast collection, but they are fighting each other. Instead of putting all the Beige and Brown together, all the Blues together, all the Greys and Black in one stack and building the colours up so when you enter you get a 'tint & shades' effect and the customer can pick out whatever colour they are interested in, colours seem to be in a state of battle. When I finished explaining the importance of 'Colour Blocking' to the store Manager (he must be in his 60's), he said “I'm selling Textiles for the past 25 years. So, please don't try to teach me the Art-of-Selling” Many senior people still think that they know all about the art-of-selling. But, I pity their ignorance.

There are stores in India that are controlled by companies outside India, which do a good job, because they bring their concepts of Merchandise Presentation in.

So, today VM is not understood in India. One of the big problems today is that many visual merchandisers are men. And men don't know what to do with colours. I remember being in a mall of Kolkatta and saw the most outrageous display on the window and I asked the sales girl on the counter “Who picked the merchandise?” and she said “the Manager”. So, I told her that he has no taste and she replied saying “but he's the boss!” So, that's what it comes down to.

No matter what the world guru's say about the since of visual merchandising but it's Indian retail industry that gave birth to visual merchandising but then left it an orphan.

Window Display is the Visiting Card of the shop or store. Unlike the West, where Visual Merchandising receives the highest priority in commercial planning of a product, Indian industry's understanding and practice of is rather rudimentary. We are still stuck with the mannequin in a welcoming, namaste posture. Although there are a few avenues of formal VM training, and some institutes too, management gurus and retail professionals do at times try to include VM in their curriculum, the very idea fails because there is a lack of trained professionals. I have even noticed that due to the paucity of trained professionals, institutes hire people with little knowledge of the art. This, on one hand, results in incompetence, and on the other affects promoters' faith in VM in general and in Indian visual merchandisers in particular. 99% of Indian population still believes that VM is all about Window Displays. The fact is Window Display is just a part of VM. Many graduates form leading fashion institutes call themselves as 'Visual Merchandiser', but actually they are just 'window display person'.

Baby Shop
Babyshop, Landmark Group, Dubai. Showcasing the Swim-wear for Kids.

There's no questionVisual Merchandising is a tough art to master. Not only because there are so many stores competing for consumers' attention, but because it requires the right combination of business sense, psychology and style to get it right. Merchandise Presentation is the cheapest way to achieve sales and hit the targets. So, whether you do it yourself or employ someone else to do it for you, there are a few things that must be considered first!

Pick of the Month

A chance to get noticed in the industry. A chance to show your creativity. A chance to participate and win display awards every month.
(submit your entries at [email protected])

Brand: Massimo Dutti                                                 

Brand: Woolworths                                                    
Any Questions?

If you have any display or store planning/layout related questions, send it to us!
Mr. Surender Gnanaolivu, Concept Head - Lifestyle Dept. Store, Reliance Retail, will answer your questions... (Mr. Surender Gnanaolivu has a rich experience of 14yrs in Store Planning, Retail Planning, VM, Presentation & teaching Retail Management.)

(submit your questions at [email protected])

Q: What is a plan-o-gram? How and why it's done? What points to be considered before making a plan-o-gram?
How is it implemented across the chain of stores? Are there any software's for plan-o-graming? Any books available in market?
-Raymond, South Africa

A: A plan-o-gram is a tool that helps in organizing the store offerings profitably in the defined store and shelf space to delivery convenience and availability to the shopper. It has two parts:

1. The Assortment Planning: Based on the store's retailing strategy, the target customer needs, the expected sales and margin plans the plan-o-gramming tool helps plan the merchandise assortment that needs to be planned in the store to optimize profitability per square feet in the store.

2. The Drop Plan: This plans the most effective way of presenting the store offerings in the planned store fixtures in the store. Here the store fixture dimensions and the presentation principles are mapped. Then the merchandise dimensions and image and presentation principles are mapped. Then the merchandise is fitted into the fixtures as per the assortment plan. Adjacencies and the density of presentation are also input into this exercise.

Though it is possible to do it manually it is very laborious and complicated when various business and merchandising decision parameters are input into the planning process. So most of the organized retailing chains use software that integrates with the merchandising planning system to generate, after iterations, the most optimal recommendations for assortment plan. The system then generates the optimal Drop Plan that is used to communicate at the front end how this is to be implemented. In this the elevation of the merchandising wall is shown with the actual merchandise (remember the image of the merchandise was also captured) placed on the shelves. For a chain of stores, it virtually impossible to do it manually owing to complexities of the different markets/ catchments that may warrant different merchandise mixes where each store is likely to have a different drop plan for the same category of merchandise. Plan-o-gramming is usually the responsibility of the category management teams in the retailing system and the visual merchandisers are only involved in the implementation of the drop plans.

Yes, there are software for plan-o-gramming by AC Neilson, JDA and some others in the market. The selection will depend on the ERP system used and the number of stores and the applications that are required by the retailer.

There are no specific books in the market to my knowledge as this straddles the merchandising and the category management functions. Probably retailing books on supermarkets and hypermarket retailing could be of help.

VM Training
Tip of the Month WhizBang! Training, Phone: 616-842-4237, Fax: 616-842-2977,
E-mail: [email protected]

As readers of this weekly tip, you know we LOVE the idea of partnering with other businesses to get new customers. We usually recommend working with businesses that have a natural “affinity” with yours. A custom framing shop with a home accessories store or a garden center with a sprinkler installer, for example. But great promotional partners aren’t always obvious. In fact, the juxtaposition of apparently dissimilar businesses is sometimes enough to make your customers sit up and take notice.

I was getting my hair cut this week when this poster headline caught my eye...“Martinis & Manicures”. Now that’s what I call multi-tasking! The salon had partnered with a nearby upscale bar to hosts a “Martinis & Manicures” event every Tuesday evening for 2 hours. You and your friends get a free mini-manicure (tip your manicurist!) while enjoying your favorite foo-foo martini for only three bucks. Of course, the bar is packed and everyone has a great time. It’s exactly the kind of promotion we like. Fun, innovative, and it gets people talking.

Share Display Snaps
(submit your entries at [email protected])

Display Snaps
A very common Grocery store, which
you can find in any city, nukkad or muhalla (street) of this country. But the Jars on the counter work as a very effective tool for pushing the 'impulse' category and even increasing the 'cash memo-size'. You pay Rs.10 to buy a Rs.8 chips pack and in return he'll hand -over you 4 candies worth Rs.2 and will say' “Chutta nahin hai” (I don't have change).

Anuraag S
News Flash
IRDC Registration still open for IRDC 2007
Registration is open for the seventh annual VM+SD International Retail Design Conference, Sep’ 19-21 at the Inter Continental Buckhead in Atlanta.
Executives store planners, visual merchandisers, designers & other retail professionals are invited to attend this annual educational and networking event. IRDC draws speakers and attendees from throughout the U.S. And abroad for three days of inspiration, conversation & rejuvenation.
For more details, visit www.irdconline.com

The Gilded Age
New York’s Gilt Restaurant mixes the classic and avant-garde
By Tom Zeit, contributing writer (07-02-2007)

Inside midtown Manhattan’s Palace Hotel sits what was originally the spectacular Villard Mansion, built in 1882 by journalist turned-speculator Henry Villard. After one of his financial reversals, Villard moved out and it had a variety of residents there after. It was the home office of Random House and then the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York before being incorporated as the entrance of Harry Helmsley’s New York Palace Hotel and, most recently, was the home of the restaurant Le Cirque 2000. It’s an ornate and eclectic place, rich in history, and now it’s where the surprising new Gilt restaurant is located.

Gilt’s gutsy centerpiece is the bar area, featuring a fiberglass-and-polyester geodesic structure that glows purple and red throughout the evenings.

Top Fixtures
NASFM store fixture award-winners

Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique, Orlando
Fixtures: Caylex, Orlando
Photography: LeGrand Photography, Mount Verde, Fla
Fido Solutions, Toronto
Sales Pod
Fixtures: ModulTech, Anjou, Que.; Nemus Ebenisterie, Anjou, Que.; Vira Mfg., Perth Amboy, N.J.
Photography: Yves Lefebvre, Montreal

Foodtrust PEI, Montreal
Refrigerated Potato Merchandiser
Fixtures: Storemark, Pooles Corner, P.E.I.
Photography: Yves Lefebvre, Montreal
Fornarina, London
Shoe Wall
Fixtures: Buzzoni S.R.L., Bosaro, Rovigo, Italy
Photography: Benny Chan Photography/Fotoworks, Los Angeles

  Experience Mobility
  by Swati Bhalla

Gurgaon goes Mobile! The first ever ‘Lifestyle’ cell phone shop of the country is now open in Orchid City Center Mall, Mumbai Central & MGF Mega City Mall, Gurgaon. This 520 sq.ft. shop holds the widest range of mobiles, accessories, recharges & conn -ections, land-lines, Mp3 players & fun downloads. Every mobile is on display so that one can physically feel & experience the joy of it’s features and appearance. And that’s not all, you can take print-outs directly from your cell phone, burn music Cd’s, download latest Ring-tones, Wallpapers, Games, etc. The store is done up in various colors projecting the various categories and with lot of information on mobile & the technology. If you really wanna experience mobility, visit MPort today!!
Send us your comments and feedback on [email protected] Your valuable suggestions can only let us improve this newsletter. For contribution of articles, snaps, information, do mail us. Hope you enjoyed this issue!! Happy displaying...