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RETAIL DESIGN TRENDS: Becoming the `next big thing'

Creating a "departure store" through seven key concepts. You've heard of retail concepts such as branding and clicks and mortar. Now, I'll introduce you to the new next big thing - a departure store. This can only be created by the convergence of some important ideas I've chosen to call occamization, foyerism, billboarding, environmental preference, "sir"vival, trend-starting and lip service.

To understand what a departure store is, you must first depart. Imagine your store is flexible, changing daily, buzzing with unique personality. It's years ahead of the competition. To top it off, your competitors are scratching their heads trying to figure out what your store is all about.

But after 12 weeks, just when your competitors think they have you figured out, you drop a curtain around your entire shop. Twenty-four hours later, the curtain rises to unveil a totally new retail concept. You have done it. You are the "next big thing." You have created a departure store. Now, open your eyes and get ready to implement seven ideas that will help you on your way.

1. Occamization Put Occam's razor (the principle states "entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily") to use on everything having to do with buying and selling. Sell a complete lifestyle to your targeted customer. Cut your stock. Go narrow and deep. Cut the typical store design cliche from your vocabulary - develop your own identity, take a chance and reinvent yourself.

2. Foyerism Your marketing, ads, shop front and entrance create the foyer to your store's soul. The customer enters and leaves in only seconds. Your message must be fast, clear, fresh, and coordinated.

3. Billboarding This is a term and concept I developed to describe predictable change. Why is the change predictable? Because your customers will know your shop will always be new, fresh and different - every time they come back.

4. Environmental preference This is a concept I developed from the desire to create immediate new settings without the expense of renovations. With the flick of a switch, you should be able to change a white box into the Chateau de Versailles. As fast as the trends change, you must change.

5. "Sir"vival No, it's not misspelled, and yes, we must first understand and appreciate the difference between women's and men's shopping habits, not to mention girls, boys, teens and tweens.

Understanding and implementing EVEolution is essential, but to ignore potential male shoppers, who represent about half the total population, is a mistake. When we think of design or consider buying habits, it's always for a woman. She's time-impoverished, she always turns right - she, she, she! When you think about a man it's in the context of her husband or her boyfriend. A woman gets an intimate apparel department and a man gets a jockey fixture.

How about appealing to the male customer for gifts, kitchen stuff (men are taking over the kitchen) and more. This is a big idea that has enormous potential. Also, to not continually broaden your customer base may be a business hazard.

6. Trend starting Trend starting is much better than trend spotting! It's absolute fun and rewards are enormous. Merchants should be trend starters; let the customer be the trend spotter. When I am designing a store, shop or new concept I very rarely look at stores for inspiration. I look at Vogue, Wallpaper, TV ads and out my window.

7. Lip service Forget coat-check rooms, greeters and marble bathrooms. Just remember this - speed demons come into a store and want to get it. They don't want to be bothered by an insincere sales associate saying, "May I help you?" Checkouts need to be front-end and organized.

Very few stores will be able to pull this off. So unless you're a classic, not overly affected by trends and fickle customers, you better slow the speed demons down by interrupting your store with constantly changing speed bumps, filled with everything they can't get anywhere else.

TAGS: Development
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