Listen to myself, Tim Radley, on the Louise Lally podcast, discussing the future of visual merchandising, and the changing world of physical shop spaces for both large brands and small independent retailing.

Join the free podcast now through this link…Retailing with Meaning Ep2 ”Shop Merchandising and Display” (

The podcast features a discussion on Abercrombie & Fitch. For me their name still stirs up magic and wonder, despite their slow demise, the passing of the fashion for distressed logos, and some dubious ethical branding and communications. Specifically in the sphere of shop design they were absolute pioneers and revolutionaries. They ushered in a new level of shop experience.

Lighting was a critical part of the shop experience. But whereas retail designers before had used lighting to enhance mood, visual landscapes and focal points, Abercrombie & Fitch began by extracting light completely from the environment. Beginning with a black canvas, akin to a theatre, they then set to work as a still-life studio photographer would adding lighting detail to create atmosphere and anticipation, then highlighting the stories behind the product.

This was electrifying. The experience of light & darkness, evocative scents, and pulsating video attracted queues of customers who lined the streets to get inside. But as with all things it passed its peak of innovation. Just as the darkness increased excitement, it also became a barrier to customers simply trying to see the true colour of fabrics. Ultimately it just became a barrier, and when the lights were turned up, as with many a night club evening, the magic disappeared.

Abercrombie & Fitch burned brightly, if somewhat briefly, as all stars do, swallowed ultimately by a darkness of their own creation.

So, take a listen to the podcast, discover Abercrombie & Fitch literally in a new light, and understand why they were important pioneers in shop design and the use of creative lighting.

I’ll also explain and illustrate with best practice examples, the important areas that all retailers should consider when planning their shops, from the floor layout and space allocation, materials & lighting, to the grouping of product stories and visual merchandising displays.

Topics in the interview include:

  • ‘Who were the mercurial brand that invented Visual Merchandising?’
  • ‘How should we use colour as part of visual merchandising?’
  • ‘Understanding the importance of lighting in shop design & display!’
  • ‘The 4 different types of product stories we can display!’
  • ‘How ecommerce has revolutionised the stories behind products!’
  • ‘Is there less creativity in retailers, or is it simply focused on new and different disciplines?’
  • ‘How is shop layout changing in today’s shops?’
  • ‘Is space management still so critical? Do we need to put as many products in our shops?’
  • ‘What KPIs do all shops need to measure to see if VM is working for sales?’
  • How to prove visual merchandising works?

This is the second of 4 exclusive interviews Tim is giving during October. Other interviews cover:

  • ‘Experiential Retailing’ & Shop concepts
  • The new world for Retail people
  • Sustainability & ethical retailing