VM-unleashed: Shop design & visual merchandising

VM-unleashed: specialist in retail experiences

In 2007 I set up VM-Unleashed to create a company that specializes in developing world-class customer experiences in physical and digital shops.

For more than a decade much of our work has remained focused on the physical shop environment and despite the increase in digital sales, even in the UK where the penetration is one of the highest, physical shops remain important as part of multi-channel, multi-touchpoint strategies.

The ‘rapidly’ changing retail shop

However, the physical shop is changing rapidly. Its role is no longer just about selling physical product, but about delivering services and fulfilment across channels. VM-unleashed considers and integrates functions that are exclusive to physical shops such as fitting and personal shopping with functions which have been initiated online such as click& collect and returns but which need to be fulfilled in physical shops..

The evolution of the ‘Retail Hub.’

In essence the ‘shop’ or ‘store’ is evolving into a ‘Retail Hub.’ The retail hub is built around 4 integrated areas. The ‘shopper paradise’ is still the centrepiece consisting of product displays and associated customer service. The ‘Collection Crossroads’ satisfies the needs of the omnichannel shopper and facilitates the collection, delivery, return and exchange of goods. Ironically this is also now a main driver of shop traffic.

The local ‘Community Hub.’

The third element is the local ‘Community Hub’ which uses shop space to form links with the customer and local communities, from staging events and running courses, to providing a setting and showcase for community initiatives.

Shop colleague involvement and interaction are essential to the community hub. Finally, retail hubs are increasingly using excess and flexible shop space for ‘Business Centres’ allowing the cost-effective delivery of retail places. These include business and community offices and working space, as well as residential use for shop colleagues and local communities.

Working with the new shop DNA

VM-unleashed has evolved to stay-ahead of these trends. It offers clients its established skills and support in creating shop experiences, but with a new appreciation of the other elements that now form part of the DNA of ‘shops of the future.’

VM-unleashed now offers strategic advice, creative design, operational planning, and collaboration on the development and delivery of physical shops, across all elements that now form the retail hub.

Shop format – flagship, neighbourhood, convenience pop-up

Physical location planning

Shop grading & clustering

Retail hub gross space planning

Flexible space planning and allocation

Shopper paradise environmental design

Product allocation

Product story segmentation & display

Visual merchandising

Visual communication

Digital signage & display

Events and promotional delivery

Service area functionality & design

Shopping ‘Golden Triangles’

Stock rooms and storage allocation

Store operations, schedules & routines

Staffing and operations technology

Click&collect/omni-service area design

Staff area space allocation – office, hospitality, omniservices

Community engagement planning

Community space design

Business space strategies

Retail hub partnerships & collaborations

Logistics, distribution & delivery planning

Shop teams skills planning

Shop colleague training, learning & development

Appropriate, workable & affordable

If you don’t require external help to rejuvenate and re-invent your shops, that’s great. I’m happy to help you come to that conclusion through an informal discussion. However if we decide together that you could do with our helping hand, be assured that our assistance will be appropriate, workable, collaborative, affordable and achieve the goals you require.

Please have a look at our overview of VM-unleashed expertise and experience…

If you want to start the ‘retail project’ ball rolling, please get in touch. I would be happy to share with you some typical VM-unleashed project templates, schedules, costs, and case studies.

It’s been my pleasure to have worked with a wide variety of retailers and brands and I’m happy to say that when I occasionally bump into any one of the people I’ve worked with, we are still genuinely very much on speaking terms.


In the meantime…

In the meantime, if you’d like to read my book first to understand where I’m coming from, then that’s an excellent idea.

How to be an Essential Retailer

It is hot off the press for 2021.

Available from September via sustainable POD (print on demand) through Amazon or your usual book retailers

In the book you will probably find of particular interest the section on ‘Retail hubs – places in our hearts and minds,’ and ‘People – The new shopkeepers of today.’  You will also find 75 action plans and 100 retail best practice insights. They may guide you in assessing your current weaknesses and opportunities.

Enjoy your reading. enjoy a few extracts…

Thank you for taking the time to get this far. It’s been my pleasure.

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