Co-located with RBTE (Retail Business Technology Expo) and Retail Digital Signage Expo, the Retail Design Expo took place at Olympia, London, on 9-10 March 2016. Being Europe’s largest and most influential retail event held every year, it is perfect for any retailer, designers, visual merchandisers or simply if you love technology, for insights into the future of retailing. There were more than 250 suppliers from UK companies and overseas, more than 50 free conferences with experienced speakers in the retail industry, and endless opportunities to network.
I managed to attend six conferences, with retailing, digital spaces, budgeting, internationalization and sustainability as some of the key words. Although all the talks were around 30 minutes each, the key points, the insights, the never ending questions like how, where and why, were all satisfied; no gap unfilled and no question unanswered. My personal favourite was the conference ‘Store refit on a budget’, given by Managing Director Lynda Murray and Creative Director Phil Hill at International Visual LTD. The title is self explanatory; but the best part was all the small tips they gave us that can make a big impact on a retail space, how things that might seem unimportant make a place stand out, like the colour of the walls, or symmetry inside the physical store.
Even though the sessions were touching various points, there was one word that kept appearing in all of them, ‘experience’. Mixed topics, from digitalization to sustainability, and yet, the same word over and over. So, if I could sum up the sessions, would be that they were all looking for a more ‘experience’ orientated retail.
Between sessions I used my time to walk around looking at all the stands. The people were very friendly to approach, all with very different ideas, approaches and designs to retail, but from diverse perspectives come brilliant ideas. There were some eye catching stands like ‘Sarah Feather Design’ with colourful threads or ‘Blacks VM’ decorated with amazing square mirrors and lighting. Companies of all sizes and from countries like Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, US and others as well as the UK.
The Retail Design Expo is the go-to event for people to find new ideas, inspiration and solutions, but especially to learn from others and network. There you can find anything you would ever hope for in the retail world, under one roof.
By Rafa Rodriguez, MA Fashion Retail Management