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Want Innovative Retail Solutions? Seek a Strategic Blend of Experience and Creativity

By Tom Ertler
  • Retail
  • Want Innovative Retail Solutions? Seek a Strategic Blend of Experience and Creativity

No one can argue that there isn’t a lot going on in retail right now. But looking back, there are very few times where that’s not been true.”

Having worked through the ups and downs with a wide cross-section of retailers for close to sixty years, we’ve managed through most situations before.

We’ve seen the supply chain squeezed. And we’ve navigated complicated issues like inflation mixed with unemployment or even a full recession. That said, this is the first time it’s all been compounded by a global pandemic that is making it crucial to pivot inventory and reconfigure stores for value and transactional ease rather than lingering and interacting in the store.

What we’ve learned through these peaks and valleys would fill a book. We’re just not sure anyone wants to read the whole book in one sitting.

What we do know, though, is that people really  want the relevant chapter of what we know when their brand is going through it. It can be things like merging two brands in one space or figuring out an entire store redesign, creating more immersive spaces. Sometimes it’s value engineering a beautiful design that won’t scale (we help companies out of that hole a lot) or adapting a design to many different footprints and configurations.

The point is, we’ve done it and sharing that knowledge and expertise is good for business. All of our businesses. It pushes us as a collective industry to make the solutions we come up with better. More efficient. With less impact to our planet. More easily adaptable to changes. And engaging people on deeper levels.

Because we often take creative designs and scale them, it can get easy to become hyper-efficient. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, But efficiency, when not counterbalanced with creativity, can lead to dated design that answers the base problem, but doesn’t add to a memorable retail experience. It’s all a great balance of the “what, why and how” brands are trying to accomplish.

As Chief Creative Officer, part of my job is to extract the learnings from how we’ve done things and turn them into guidelines, lessons, watchouts or things to emulate going forward. You could say we are creating new standards, new baselines of what’s expected by consumers if you will. It’s taking our learnings from double-digit years of turnarounds, rebirths, rebrands, expansions and acquisitions and applying them in innovative ways to today’s retail aspirations.

My approach has always been to tell these stories. Whether it’s an affirmation or a business-changing block of wisdom, I hope to offer a bit of perspective or steps toward better and better customer experiences.

 

Retail designer and Chief Creative Officer focused on brand development, graphic communication, environment design, and implementation (A&E). Tom's career spans over 30 years and is distinguished by industry awards and, more importantly, industry results for some of the best-known brands in the world as well as emerging brands.