How our retail consultancy helped Gravitypope to improve their store spaces and Visual Merchandising
By Madeline Ana Vidak
As retail experts, we don’t just offer our innovative software solutions for retail planning, Visual Merchandising, in-store execution etc.
Our clients also benefit from our expertise to train retailers regarding the right VM strategies. In this customer story we’ll talk about how our VM Consultant Sanna established a training plan and a new VM store strategy for Canadian brand gravitypope.
Gravitypope is an independently owned boutique providing Canada with an extensive array of carefully chosen, beautiful, unique, and handcrafted collections of footwear, clothing and accessories, gathered from all over the world. Over the past 3 decades, gravitypope has become a footwear institution. The store locations include Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.
Each gravitypope store is beautifully unique and tastefully decorated with original furniture and fixtures. Both gravitypope and gravitypope tailored goods offer a unique and exciting shopping experience that compare in selection, aesthetic and service to the very best shops in the world.
In addition, the online shop, gravitypope.com provides pre-shopping convenience and door-to-door worldwide delivery.
When your collection feeds up your store and you lose the overview
The founder of gravitypope realized that with 6 stores filled with over 150 collections, it’s quite easy to lose the overview of everything and the product can get lost. She was in need of a solution to reassemble the stores with a clear structure and to improve the Visual Merchandising strategy and therefore, the customer experience in all stores.
At this point Sanna stepped in, visited 5 out of 6 stores in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver within 6 days. She soon realized that the two main focus points in this project would be Capacity and the Retail Process.
Firstly, Sanna organized a basic Visual Merchandising training for the Merchandise Managers, Visual Merchandisers, Marketing and Store Managers. Every subject within this training was tailored to gravitypope’sbrand proposition.
Afterwards, she sat together with the Visual Merchandisers and taught them about the importance of Capacity. What is actually needed, how much space is available in the stores for collections and merchandise? The session was broken down to the following 3 phases:
Insights on the turn over
Creating a count system
1. Insights on the turn over
To get an overview of how you should use the space in your store, you have to know your turn over of each category. For example, if you sell shoes for men and women and you equally divide the store spaces to 50% women and 50 % men, but your turn over on women shoes is 70 %, you should rethink the division of your space. It’s important to share the profit figures with the VMs in order to allow them to compare the turn over and the available linear space.
2. Create a count system
Count your linear meters in order to see how much merchandise can actually fit in your store next to the collection itself. A determination of SKU’s (stock keeping units) was made. Those can vary between seasons. You might fit 8 T-Shirts on one rack during the sale of the Spring/Summer collection, but during the Winter season sale, on the same rack only 4 coats fit.
To know which story you want to tell your customer when they enter your store, is essential in successful Visual Merchandising. In the case of gravitypope, they sell their own brand and other high-end brands. The question was on how to present those brands versus categories in the stores. To start off, you have to know what your customer wants when entering your shop or which story should be transferred. Do you want to organize the shoes by brand or by commodity? Does your customer want to see all shoes from one brand at first point or do they maybe enter with the vision in mind to buy a pair of black boots? In this case it would be better to organize the shoes by themes, e.g. all boots together, followed by high heels.
After a hands-on exercise in the shoe store in Edmonton together with the responsible Visual Merchandiser the store experience improved significantly and it looked much better than before, the change was fantastic and successful.
Reorganizing the retail processes
Looking at the “org chart” (organization chart of the company) Sanna knew, a lot of changes needed to be done. The most crucial factor, that a lot of people in the retail business tend to forget about, is the importance of including Visual Merchandising from the beginning. More often than not, they are at the end of the chain when it comes to Buying & Planning of the collection, and it happens regularly that VMs have to fix problems that could have been eliminated upfront.
If for example the Buying team has no idea about the capacity of the store and overbuy collections, the VMs have little to no latitude to create a clear storyline and merchandising spaces within the stores. Sanna included the necessity of syncing the VMs with the Buying & Planning team from the very start into the org chart. Therefore, VMs should always provide the Buying team with available space information, so the right amount of items could be bought.
But not only the space details are of high importance. The VMs would also always provide clear information of what color schemes or item categories should be acquired. This way there would be enough space for powerful and meaningful merchandising.
Visual Merchandising manual
The project ended with Sanna writing a new Visual Merchandising manual with all the information she presented in the trainings and more VM rules. With the help of all things learned, gravitypope is now able to buy the right capacity and density for their stores in order to keep the storytelling for the customers on a high level.
About Sanna van Hellemondt
Sanna has been working as a Visual Merchandising and retail consultant and has many years of experience in helping brands align their planning and processes across multiple departments.
From developing and implementing new concepts, she has also helped retailers by forwarding them knowledge to improve their capacity planning and store lay-out. Additionally, she provides companies with Visual Merchandising training. Some of her clients were Bijenkorf, HEMA, Ahold, Zeeman, Schiphol, B&S, Rijksmuseum and many more.