26 Jul 2019

Retail Lab at Glee 2019: Let us entertain you at ‘The Greatest Showroom'

Retail Lab at Glee 2019: Let us entertain you at ‘The Greatest Showroom'

Interview with Romeo Sommers, Glee Retail Lab Creative Director

The circus is coming to Glee 2019! This year the Retail Lab – in association with the HTA - will draw upon the inspiration of the bygone era of travelling circuses to provide a stunning backdrop to this year's inspirational showcase of innovative products and merchandising ideas. Here the Retail Lab's Creative Director, Romeo Sommers, tells us more about how this exciting interactive hub will shape up in 2019, and talk us through the first theme which will use emotion, sound and activity to engage customers and gets them in the mood to buy.

This year the Retail Lab is all about entertaining both the retailer and the customer, and celebrating ‘the best' from garden retailing. Supported by a nostalgia rich backdrop, this year's Retail Lab will be rich in theatre. However, the main aim of the area will not be lost – in that each display and the overall effect will help to create memorable and tangible takeaway content that can help retailers and merchandisers to engage and inspire customers, driving sales and creating a point of difference in an increasingly ‘cookie cutter' retail environment.

Theatre & drama = return customers

Until now, retailers have been focussed wholly on price, however the impact of online retail is placing a new pressure on brick and mortar retailers. With prices and margins being squeezed, coupled with the immediacy of online shopping, garden centres are being forced to rethink how they merchandise products, and how they approach the customer experience in-store to ensure the longevity of their business.

Many of the ideas and themes showcased in the Retail Lab have been created to tackle these issues, whilst also responding to those current trends that are shaping consumer demand. With interactive elements, ‘look again' merchandising ideas, all packaged within a new retail environment style, this year's Retail Lab will bring together nostalgic design, reflective of the heritage of gardening, with new innovation and fresh thinking, to create future-facing garden retail.

2019 themes explained

Two sub-themes have been identified - “Do it yourself (and have fun)” and Saving the World – Nurturing, Nature and Animals' - both will help shape the content, offering ideas and solutions that meet those trends that are impacting consumer buying habits. Here Romeo talks us through the first theme, “Do it yourself (and have fun)”, where retailers will be given ideas on how to create more inspired retail environments, and create a variety of creative and fun in-store concepts that engage customers and encourage them to purchase outside of their normal buying areas.    

To support the “Do it yourself (and have fun)” theme the area will showcase a number of unique and different ‘sets' that will highlight the many different ways that retailers can merchandise product in-store, whilst inspiring consumers to have fun in their garden and outdoor space.

The first concept will be ‘Garden Planning' which offers a look at fresh retail thinking, where consumers can do more in-store such as planning their dream garden, creating a shopping list within seconds that will enable them to make all the purchases under one roof. Think ‘click and collect' but a whole lot more inspiring!

garden planning

Next up is the gorgeous ‘Do Nothing Garden' where products and plants that require little or no attention come together to demonstrate that gardening isn't about having an encyclopaedic knowledge of horticulture, but instead can be a stress-free and time rich activity. Look out for immediate impact plants, combined with new garden tech for the ultimate ‘cheat' garden.

Making it easy is also the theme of the ‘Services that Serve' retail concept store. Combining convenience and retail technology of the future, this concept area will show how retailing could look soon. Not only does this area demonstrate new tools for retailers, but also how easy shopping can be for the consumers. Hassle-free shopping is delved into deeper, whilst garden centres can grab new ideas on how to adapt and build technology into their stores whilst still putting their customers needs at the forefront of their business.

The beating heart of any garden centre – plants – are given a future-proof makeover in the new ‘Plant Gift Shop'.  In this section modular shelving units from Link Shelving are the stars! This area is designed to show you how customers can mix and match pots and plants, whilst also helping garden centres to redesign and update display areas in a matter of minutes. Think next generation cross merchandising ideas, and add-on sales opportunities.

In today's fast paced world, it's important to remember to take some time to sit back and relax, which is where the ‘Garden Therapy' area comes in. With wellbeing and mental health well and truly on the political and economic agenda, this part of the Retail Lab is the perfect solution for garden centres who want to help their customers find some ‘me time'. Retailers should look out for ideas on how they can create a spa like experience in store, something their customers can recreate within their own homes and gardens. Featuring relaxation areas, air purifying plants and a rich palette of greens, this area will be quiet retreat amongst a sea of business deals, networking and the latest product innovations at Glee 2019.

The theme of sensory experiences is continued with the introduction of ‘The Scent Room'. Scent is well known as being an emotive sense; one that can evoke memories and transport us back to another time and place. This knowledge can be transferred into a retail environment, connecting customers on an emotional level with the retail environment, as well as the retail journey. From the use of scent machines, to highly scented plants and herbs selected for their ability to lift our mood and enhance wellbeing, the Scent Room highlights a new way of retailing, and improving the shopping experience.

There is no doubt that the 2019 Retail Lab will be bigger and better than ever before. But more than this, it'll be a celebration of future potential for both retailers and consumers. From fun ideas, to simple changes that will create real stand-out within both your local community, the wider garden retail sector, and amongst savvy consumers, a visit to the Retail Lab can be a true game changer. We look forward to welcoming retailers, buyers and merchandising teams to the area – in fact bring your entire team. I promise there will be something to inspire all of you!

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