Retail in Asia had the pleasure of interviewing Sofia Boudjemia, Director of IWD’s Singapore branch, who shared key aspects on how leading brands can manage and improve their visual merchandising process.
With more than 10 years’ experience at the service of renowned and selective customers, Sofia helps brands and retailers digitise their retail processes and visual merchandising strategy to improve brand consistency and optimise operations.
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RiA: What should brands take into account in order to ensure and maintain branding consistency?
Sofia Boudjemia: More than 86% of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding which brands they like and support. It is important for a brand to create and maintain consistency across its stores and markets, in order to increase the value of the brand, retain customers and increase turnover. We have seen turnover increase from 7.8 percent up to 33 percent for leading cosmetic clients in APAC when they started ensuring branding consistency.
While it can be hard to maintain consistency as your business grows, it is not impossible.
First, a brand should have a clear understanding of its visual merchandising cycle. It needs to take into account what challenges it is facing and which tools will facilitate the creation and execution of its visual identity across teams and markets.
With feedback on the merchandising workflow of more than 400 clients across industries: Dior, Avon, Edrington… we have come to outline a tactical process and provide digital tools to assist brands and retailers in each stage of their merchandising cycle.
RiA: How to ensure a global identity and a localised approach?
Sofia Boudjemia: One of the major challenges brands face when expanding internationally is to ensure a consistency in their identity while adapting to local markets. The stake lies in launching products or opening stores quickly across a global network, adapting 2D / 3D guidelines faster to global and local specificities, visualising their network of stores worldwide, and avoiding never-ending back and forth with teams.
Brands need to digitise their processes and communication, with collaborative platforms that allow different teams to access a unique catalogue and guidelines according to the markets.
A great example is Charles & Keith, one of our leading Singaporean fashion clients.
“Our team is using the 3D Display to create Global guidelines for all the seasonal and capsule collection launches and showcase realistic displays of the products and props on the fixtures (back wall and island fixture). We easily adapt the guidelines to the local markets, taking into account local specificities.”
One of our leading cosmetic clients creates and adapts guidelines according to the market’s product assortment and local requirements, and shares it with corresponding teams. This allowed HQ and field teams to share a vision on the store layout and best practices.
Below you can find two planograms: on the left side the global guidelines and on the right side the adapted guidelines for APAC markets.
RiA: HQs and local branches often have to rely on digital tools to ensure brand consistency globally, how can this process be optimised?
Sofia Boudjemia: Global brands will always gain in efficiency when relying on digital tools to decide their store layout and merchandising mix across their network.
However, they should ask themselves how many tools they use to create, implement, and analyse their merchandising strategies?
Using IWD platform, a cloud-based solution to create, implement and share planograms, offers retailers and brands a complete control over their visual merchandising strategy. The different features allow them to visualise their stores from a customers’ perspective, and lets them experiment with different layouts and products assortment in a much faster and easier way. For example, sustainable apparel brand Patagonia was able to decrease their time spent on visual merchandising by 75 percent, spending 4 hours today to review and discuss store layouts digitally versus the previously needed 2 days in store.
Once the guidelines have been created and implemented, the next big challenge is to keep track of their implementation in stores by following all operations, tracking KPIs, and receiving relevant feedback from the field. Through our platform which monitors store execution, brands can receive photos, share other key visuals and layouts, follow competitors, and use the input data to analyse and optimise their sales and visual merchandising strategies per region.
At the end of the day, brands should count one platform for all their merchandising cycle processes, recommendations, development and when anticipating customers’ next moves, to make sure they are delivering the right offers in the right place.
RiA: In which way can IWD support brands and retailers in their digital transformation? Any exciting news you can share with us?
Sofia Boudjemia: IWD offers retailers and brands software and services that cover everything from collection planning, digital buying sessions, store planning and 2D/3D planogramming to visual merchandising guideline editors and in-store execution tools.
At IWD we are always innovating and getting out of our comfort zone to improve customer satisfaction. We have gathered a team of retail experts from different industries in order to understand and answer every client’s challenges and objectives with their specific needs or distribution channel in mind.
Last year, we acquired 100 percent of Visual Retailing, a provider of retail software for 3D store planning and compliance. Together with Visual Retailing, IWD Group now becomes the world leader of merchandising software in the fashion, luxury, and cosmetic industry with over 500 brands worldwide allowing us to expand our solution offerings and footprint globally.
Today we are developing a well-established network in the APAC region to support our growth strategy and support our local customers. The visual merchandising industry is constantly evolving and that’s why our mission is to innovate our platform by bringing automation and giving our partners and clients more time for creativity and performance analysis of their strategy.
Every expanding brand will at one point need to ensure its visual identity is kept intact while being adapted locally and through every distribution channel.
A brand or a retailer needs to make sure all customers receive the in-store experience that their retail planning teams have worked hard to create. However, creating and maintaining this visual identity can be more time consuming and laborious than expected if the right tools are not being implemented.
IWD is an international company with more than 100 employees and offices in the US, Europe and APAC that offers SaaS solutions for visual merchandising. IWD solution allows brands to create 2D & 3D visual merchandising guidelines, execute in-store merchandising easier and analyse in real time their store performance.