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Why leading brands decided to digitise their merchandising process

By Partner


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The retail landscape is constantly shifting, and retailers who cannot keep up with the evolving times get left behind. As physical stores around the globe close their doors following governmental restrictions due to the pandemic, many are set to remain closed for good. It is evident that COVID-19 acted as an accelerator for what many brands were already struggling with and unable to keep up with the changing market and consumer demands. To ensure brands and retailers remain relevant and continue serving consumers, they must digitise their strategies and take an omnichannel approach. In an increasingly digital world where customer experience is vital, how can retailers benefit from digitising their merchandising processes and improving their stores’ visual compliance?

Ecommerce is booming, but brick and mortar retailing is here to stay. There is something irreplaceable about being able to walk into a store and see the display in person. Being able to touch products, see what is new and experience the entire brand identity. “This is a freedom that customers want,” says Raphaelle Guigui, Chief Operating Officer at IWD, a leading merchandising software provider. “We want to be able to try things and have the full experience - something which the internet can never replace.” Looking to life after restrictions have been lifted, Guigui maintains a positive outlook that stores will be much more centred on offering a full-fledged brand experience that mirrors their image. In order to fully prepare for life after COVID-19 and the new normal, retailers should be looking to implement digital solutions now to make their lives and consumers' lives easier.

“Trying to keep business going ‘as usual’ is important, just as important as having a strong merchandising and selling strategy,” Guigui adds. Digital solutions, such as IWD’s Display, are key tools designed to assist retailers at each stage of the merchandising cycle. Originally created in response to a client’s demand, this 2D and 3D visual merchandising tool helps retailers plan their stores better. A cloud-based software tool that is extremely easy to use, Display lets retailers build branded and realistic 2D and 3D planograms digitally. Offering retailers the chance to visualise their stores from the customers’ perspective, the tool lets them experiment with different layouts and merchandising mixes with just the click and drag of a mouse. One client, Specialized, said that Display was ideal “to render best practices for merchandising, new marketing campaigns/fixtures, along with planograms for our markets and retailers… Display allows us to do much more than we originally thought and saves us more time on every project than we ever thought."

“Display helps retailers do more, sell more and oversee more - in less time as well.” For example, sustainable apparel brand Patagonia was able to decrease their time spent on visual merchandising by 75%, spending 4 hours to review and discuss store layouts digitally versus the previously needed two days in store. “Saving time is more relevant than ever before, especially now during these extraordinary times.” Using software tools like Display also helps retailers achieve consistency at all points of sale locations, offering them complete control over visual merchandising in all stores. As retailers' experimental strategies often mean they have to be involved in every step of the visual merchandising cycle, Display can help increase productivity in the implementation of their regional or global strategy.

Retailers can easily share the merchandising layout with all stores in the same region to ensure it aligns with the strategy. At the same time, they can also easily adjust the local lineup depending on each market specifications. “By working with one platform, retailers have a solid structure to better support their visual merchandising strategies. Display helps achieve consistency while reducing redundant images and old stock photos, offering access to relevant brand content in one place.” Retailers can easily set up a strategy from the comforts of their own home or office, which can then be shared and implemented everywhere. As a collaborative tool, Display can be used by multiple departments as well as to analyse the visual merchandising’s effect on sales. Levis, an IWD client, noted that Display had helped them significantly during these times: "Trying to keep business as usual in a global pandemic is challenging, but with the virtual capabilities of IWD, we have been able to host virtual walkthroughs, sell-in strategy and plan for future seasons."

Display gives visual merchandisers more time to create looks and share designs instantly, saving time and money.

Raphaëlle GUIGUI, COO at IWD Retail Software

Going hand in hand with Display is IWD's other software, Network. Developed after clients began requesting additional features, Network is a communications-based tool that assists brands in monitoring the implementation of their visual merchandising strategy within their retail locations. "After all, when your headquarters are in Paris, for example, and you have a store network all over the world, how do you really know what each store looks like?" points out Raphaelle Guigui. When using Display and Network, clients such as Louis Vuitton have been able to keep track of their VM store consistency by monitoring and following all operations, tracking KPIs, and receiving relevant feedback from the field. "Not only can they receive photos from the store, but they can easily share other key visuals and layouts." Using the input data, retailers can also analyse and optimise their sales and visual merchandising strategies per region. One client, L’Oreal Luxe, said, "We took a 10-year leap forward in the professionalisation of our sell-out forces and perfumery field sales after implementing Network. A field where strong competition forces us to measure our exhibition quality every quarter."

One thing that sets IWD and its software apart from the rest is the simplicity of its tools. Incredibly easy to use, the dedicated team for onboarding and change management helps clients implement their tools while remaining adaptive to their workflow. "The platform creation is always based on the clients’ needs," says Raphaelle Guigui. With over 20 years of expertise, IWD works with leading beauty, luxury and fashion retailers all over the world. Agile, the company has five offices located in key cities all over the world, meaning they work in every timezone and can easily keep up with shifting market trends. "We remain purpose-driven with tools dedicated to streamlining brands’ merchandising cycle."

For more information please visit: www.iwd.io

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