Field Research

On Friday I'll be heading into downtown Seattle for some 'field research'. 
{nope. not what you think. I'm not headed to Safeco Field or Quest Field for a game...

I have four LYS's to visit {any guesses?}, a hotel ballroom-elevator-parking garage configuration to discover, and visits to two Anthropologie stores planned. Then it's across the Lake to the third Anthro store {we're lucky that way}, and on to a vintage show where I will view the presentation stylings of seventeen individual vendors of vintage, antique, and handmade goods.

All in all, that's 4 niche markets I'll be viewing in one day: independent retail {LYS is Local Yarn Shop, btw}, hospitality {W Hotel}, corporate retail {Anthropologie}, and independent artisans/merchants {vintage show vendors}. Quite a nice scope of inspiration!

And while I'll be having a great time taking all this in and visiting with people who are passionate about what they do, I'm doing this as preparation for my upcoming seminar presentation & panel discussion {at the Yarn Market News International Business Conference}. I am attending the show to support the women & men who are my contemporaries on the NorthWest vintage circuit... this is a new show, and supporting it is important to the health and growth of the industry here in our region.

When was the last time you got out of your store-office-car, and looked around at what is going on in various facets of retail? Saw a fresh 'take' on things? You can't just look inward, or even across the aisle. I encourage you to get out and do your own form of 'field research'.

I remember a former employer, who was convinced that his only competition was other garden stores. He sent the visual team to view all of the other nurseries/garden centers in the region so we could 'out-do' them. sigh. Keeping up with or even trying to 'one-up' the established industry procedure and standard is a surefire way to fail. You have to look outward, upward, and across the spectrum in order to expand your vision of what is possible in order to succeed. Inspiration for your store can come from so many other places...

For example, in spring a nursery or garden center can inspire colors, textures, and all kinds of themes that can be used in every industry. I saw a photo of an Anthro display on a blog today. It was a bunch of galvanized buckets, green hoses, fake grass, and product 'planted' amongst the props. They don't sell plants. They sell fashion, home decor, and personal accessories. They just have no limitations on where inspiration comes from.

I bet they even 'comp shopped' my former employer for ideas!

{image credit: http://igadgetszone.com}

1 comment:

  1. great post Debbie! I love field research :)

    ReplyDelete

my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK