Innovare Design creating a retail ‘point of difference’

Innovare is a design agency specialising in retail projects, including golf stores. The company’s founder and creative director is Lloyd Blakey and he explained to Glyn Pritchard what elements need to be considered in a good golf retail design.

What is the best way to work with clients to achieve a successful design?

Lloyd BakerBasically there’s no magic wand and every project is and should be unique. We don’t dictate – you have to get a clear understanding of the client’s needs and establish a brief that they agree with. But clients often overlook elements like lighting which can have a fundamental influence on the design ambience and the way customers are drawn into and move through the store.

Basic physical facts such as floor space will help determine a design. The products themselves will influence the layout. For golf you need club racks and space to literally swing a club and try a putter. Seating is needed to try shoes.

What we try to create is a coherent design that not only runs through the store but can be used online and in general marketing collateral material. With golf, pressure from manufacturers to use their displays can mean that the store ends up looking like a fairground with clashing displays shouting at the customer for attention and no discernible overall design.

If the client really cannot give us a starting point to formulate a brief we will refer them to previous work to crystallise their thoughts on what they want from the design.

You state that Innovare creates retails environments with a ‘point of difference’ – what do you mean by this?

Our name Innovare makes a statement about innovation. So when we design a golf shop, a key consideration is ‘what would make a point of difference?’ How do we establish clarity so that the customer understands at a glance what’s on offer here and what’s special. That’s where our knowledge and expertise really excel, in creating that difference.

But you have to be realistic. Most projects are dictated by the budget, so we can provide the basics with options for future development. Our clients then have a plan for the future as well as design for their immediate needs.

What’s your team’s creative edge?

HarrodsI’ve been in retail design since 1987 and Innovare was established in 2006. All our work comes through personal recommendation and our portfolio includes projects all over the world. There are ten of us in the company and we have a highly experienced design team that specialises in branded retail environments. We approach a project from the shopper’s point of view so we understand their needs and perspective.

We have built up a close association with other experts and can work closely with structural engineers, lighting technicians, illustrators and so on to manage the whole project. The fact that we retain our clients and work with them repeatedly I think speaks for itself.

How do you assess if a project design has worked?

There should be an upturn in sales. When we completed the Lola’s Cupcakes rebranding project sales increased by 100 percent! That’s not just down to us, but we played a big part in forging a distinctive brand identity because the store design ran through staff uniforms, accessories and the website to create an integrated ‘look and feel’.

Does designing a golf store present particular challenges?

It does because there are lots of product lines including equipment, apparel, shoes and accessories. For example you need specialist lighting to display shoes at their best and racks for clubs. You also have to differentiate between men’s and women’s products and women’s apparel requires more display than men’s. You should also be able to establish that differential visually so a customer does not depend on staff telling them where to look. The design you produce has to be flexible to cope with stock changes based on the seasons.

For Harrods Golf section our design had to include a golf simulator as well as displays of premium equipment in what’s termed ‘visual merchandising’.

ZonalWhat general points would you make about store layouts to golf pros running shops who are not retail specialists by training?

Try to resist being dictated to by your suppliers with their displays. You need to establish a clear identity and a message for your customers, so take a look at your shop with fresh eyes. Take photos or video to get a fresh perspective: ‘when I look at my shop what do I see?’ Does it just say ‘Sales’!

How can your customers move around the shop, is there a natural flow?

Which retail project are you most proud of?

I’m proud of all our work, but as a completely rounded project Lola’s Cupcakes is the most comprehensive brief we’ve fulfilled and that was very satisfying, especially as it was a total sales success.