VMSD - October 2017 - 56

Checking Out
Interview by Steve Kaufman

Diane Archibald
Where are your roots in retail, visual
merchandising and store design?
At the Eaton's Department Store in my hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I began as
a part-timer in high school making fall floral
arrangements for the visual department. I
stayed on for Christmas, preparing clothes
and wigs for the mannequins. Six months
later, I was dressing mannequins myself. That
was my part-time job throughout high school
and college.
And the start of your retail career?
Not right away. I'd wanted to be an architect
and was enrolled to go the following year. One
night, I went to a women's career night event.
An architect was sitting at one table and, right
beside her, an interior designer. The architect
had stacks and stacks of plans and paper and
looked very serious, and the interior designer
had beautiful color palettes, fabric swatches
and exciting looking sample boards. I thought,
'Oops, I've made a mistake.'
Of course, store design is not all
color palettes and fabrics, is it?
Absolutely not. It can't be. It is incredibly
strategic, detailed and intricate, and over the
past 10 years, that has become increasingly
so. Our strategies have become continually
much more focused year over year. We really
need to understand what the objectives and
metrics are for of each initiative - it's absolutely not just about making 'pretty' and
interesting spaces.
Why the emphasis on strategy?
Because the impact of digital commerce has
changed everything. Today, retail brands
have to be incredibly focused as to what
they want their stores to say about their

56

october 2017

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vmsd.com

Fab ie nne br un, M ontr é al

The vp of store design and development at Montréal's
Reitmans is achieving results with a fresh partnership of
creative, digital and big data.
brand and they have to know exactly who
the customer is and what she wants from
her shopping moments - in any and all
channels.
You also have a lot more
information about her.
Yes, and that's changed the store designer's
role as well. For many years, we had this largely
creative and subjective point of view about
store design. Now, with all of this data, we can
determine what our true objectives need to be.
But also, with all this data at retailer's fingertips, 'creatives' have to get smarter about how
to talk to the C-suite. We can't just approach
our roles and objectives talking about 'great
environments.'

Clowning
Around
What were the
circumstances of your high
school job at Eaton's?
I was 13 years old and in a high school theater group, and Eaton's reached out to see

What does the C-suite
want from you?
We have to show that if we do A, B, C and D, we
can quantify the desired results. I never had to
think that way 10 years ago. I've always known
that good store design impacted results, but I
didn't know how to measure it. I didn't know
how to go after those key performance indicators that would give us metrics to assess and
improve capacity, traffic, dwell time, etc.

if any students wanted to be clowns, as

So store design is
becoming a formula?
Never! Because the customer can't always
explain what it is she wants, data helps us
understand her behaviors. That's where the
fun and creative process comes in - we aim
to surprise and delight her in the store experience, above and beyond fulfilling her expectations. We continuously have to keep questioning 'once she's in the store, what's going to
make her happy to be there?' 

looked at our work and said, 'Thank you

part of a sales promotion. We stood at the
door, handing out balloons.
When that was over, the head of the
visual team said he needed some hands to
help create fall flower bouquets. The next
day, we spent three or four hours working
with all kinds of bulrushes (cattails) and
grass. At lunch hour, the boss came over,

very much, but this isn't going to work out.'
As we were leaving, he took me aside
and said, 'You're the only one here who has
any understanding of how to make these
bouquets. Can you stay and do this all by
yourself?' He saw something in me that I
was too young to recognize at the time. I'll
always be grateful for him - he was truly my
first creative mentor.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - October 2017

Vmsd - October 2017
Contents
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
The Goods
Next Store
Dinner Is Served
Shopper Insig Hts: Show and Tell
Retail by You
From Clicks to Bricks
Showroom
Showroom
Ad Index
Checking Out
VMSD - October 2017 - Intro
VMSD - October 2017 - BB1
VMSD - October 2017 - BB2
VMSD - October 2017 - Vmsd - October 2017
VMSD - October 2017 - Cover2
VMSD - October 2017 - 1
VMSD - October 2017 - Contents
VMSD - October 2017 - 3
VMSD - October 2017 - From the Editor
VMSD - October 2017 - 5
VMSD - October 2017 - Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
VMSD - October 2017 - 7
VMSD - October 2017 - The Goods
VMSD - October 2017 - 9
VMSD - October 2017 - 10
VMSD - October 2017 - 11
VMSD - October 2017 - 12
VMSD - October 2017 - 13
VMSD - October 2017 - Next Store
VMSD - October 2017 - 15
VMSD - October 2017 - Dinner Is Served
VMSD - October 2017 - 17
VMSD - October 2017 - 18
VMSD - October 2017 - 19
VMSD - October 2017 - 20
VMSD - October 2017 - 21
VMSD - October 2017 - 22
VMSD - October 2017 - 23
VMSD - October 2017 - Shopper Insig Hts: Show and Tell
VMSD - October 2017 - 25
VMSD - October 2017 - 26
VMSD - October 2017 - 27
VMSD - October 2017 - 28
VMSD - October 2017 - 29
VMSD - October 2017 - Retail by You
VMSD - October 2017 - 31
VMSD - October 2017 - 32
VMSD - October 2017 - 33
VMSD - October 2017 - From Clicks to Bricks
VMSD - October 2017 - 35
VMSD - October 2017 - 36
VMSD - October 2017 - 37
VMSD - October 2017 - 38
VMSD - October 2017 - 39
VMSD - October 2017 - Showroom
VMSD - October 2017 - 41
VMSD - October 2017 - 42
VMSD - October 2017 - 43
VMSD - October 2017 - 44
VMSD - October 2017 - Showroom
VMSD - October 2017 - 46
VMSD - October 2017 - 47
VMSD - October 2017 - 48
VMSD - October 2017 - 49
VMSD - October 2017 - 50
VMSD - October 2017 - 51
VMSD - October 2017 - 52
VMSD - October 2017 - 53
VMSD - October 2017 - Ad Index
VMSD - October 2017 - 55
VMSD - October 2017 - Checking Out
VMSD - October 2017 - Cover3
VMSD - October 2017 - Cover4
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